Bravo TV's "Top Chef" Comes to UCPlay FeaturedWritten by Ron Cohen
I think that we often take for granted living and working in the shadow of Hollywood. Every now and then, UCPLA and the entertainment industry intersect in interesting and unexpected ways.
Several years ago, one of our talented and dedicated staff members, Olivia Karaolis, created UCPlay, a unique program that gives children diagnosed with Autism-Spectrum Disorders and other disabilities a voice through drama, dance and music. One day, while watching the popular TV show “Top Chef”, Olivia envisioned a similar cooking experience for her UCPlay students. We could use this learning opportunity to do a number of things, she thought. The students could learn basic living skills like shopping, cooking, about different foods and textures, smelling, tasting, recipe sequence, creative interaction with others and take turns using a video camera to document the experience….just like the TV show!
“UCPlay Top Chef” was born and met with tremendous success! How could we top this? What about a “Top Chef Challenge”? This is where our proximity to Hollywood comes in. Olivia contacted NBC/Universal, the producers of the show to see if they could help with our “challenge”. Impressed with our program, they put Olivia in touch with celebrity Top Chef Antonia Lofaso, from Top Chef’s season four. Antonia agreed to judge our UCP Top Chef Challenge!
What an incredible experience for our students, their teachers and families. Thanks to the Special Children’s League for funding this one of a kind venture.
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