A chef who lost her sight after a nerve illness has published a cookery book of her favourite meals to raise money for the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB).

Kim Jaye, aged 54 from Bolton, was inspired to create the book after regaining her confidence in the kitchen by learning tricks and techniques to keep cooking the dishes she loves.  Her new book,  A Taste of Spice, is now available on Amazon and Kindle and includes more than 12 recipes for authentic Indian cuisine, alongside tips on how to cook the dishes with low or no vision.

Kim, who had previously taught cooking in schools and was head chef at a fusion restaurant, called Blasé, in Egerton, hopes that the book will inspire more blind and partially sighted people to don their aprons and get into the kitchen.

She said: “I lost my sight 25 years ago and, at the time, it was devastating. I had previously held several jobs and was a very busy person, but then I went totally blind almost overnight. I lost all my confidence and became very withdrawn and isolated. 

“RNIB became my lifeline – especially it’s Talking Books service. I ended up getting through around 300 audiobooks in one year! Volunteering for the charity also helped me come back out of my shell and I started believing that I could do the same things that I had always done before.

“Above everything else, I was determined to cook again. Cooking is a passion for me and is very much a part of my family life and cultural heritage as an Indian. Slowly but surely, I found ways of using my other senses to prepare my favourite foods and actually became even better at cooking. Now I’m in a much better place and I wanted to create this book to help raise money for the charity that helped me so much during my darkest moments.”

The book comes as Kim Jaye is planning to launch a cookery class for RNIB’s Connect Community next year. Free to join, RNIB Connect enables people with sight loss to meet others with similar experiences and share information, advice and guidance, both face-to-face and online.

She said: “Cooking is an extremely sensory experience that isn’t dependent on sight. Everyone can enjoy cooking by using the smell, sound, taste and feel of food as it cooks. Ultimately, with the book and the classes, I want to help teach other people with vision impairment that they can challenge perceptions and cook amazing dishes with little or no sight.

“It’s not about what you can’t do, it’s about what you can.”

Andrea Glover, Network Manager for RNIB in the North West, said: “Kim’s book is a fantastic new resource that opens up the world of cooking to blind and partially sighted people, encouraging them to give it a go. Not only will this book help people with vision impairment become more comfortable in the kitchen and create some delicious dishes, it will help challenge other people’s perceptions about what is possible with sight loss.

“I had the opportunity to taste test a few of the recipes in the book, and they are absolutely amazing. All the steps are so easy to follow and the fact that the book is so well laid out and clear makes complex-sounding dishes so easy. It would make a fantastic stocking-filler for anyone who loves to cook, with helpful tips for the visually impaired and sighted alike.”

A Taste of Spice is available now on Amazon for £4 on Kindle or £5 as a large-print paperback. All proceeds are being donated to RNIB.

The book is available in large-print and also has Text-to-Speech capability on applicable Kindle devices