Each day in genU Business Enterprises’ kitchen, Adrian moves at pace through a pallet of pumpkins; chopping up to three tonne per week to fill commercial orders received from hospitals and other businesses in the Barwon region.
There is a huge volume of vegetables to get through and Adrian does it without ever being able to see the pumpkin or his knife.
Born with Retinitis Pigmentosa, a hereditary degenerative eye condition, Adrian wears a knife glove to protect his hand while working, and after being in the processing kitchen for over a year, he feels confident with his culinary skills.
“My technique compared to when I started is much better,” he said.
“It comes second nature to me now: cut it, crack it open and bang! I clean it all out and chop it up. As long as you do it safely, you find your own way and what works for you.”
From Monday to Friday, he and his guide dog Wilbert make their way by train from nearby Lara to North Geelong to begin the work day in the kitchen.
“I love the people here: I love working with the guys, they’re a lot of fun, and my bosses are really good.”
At home with his wife and three dogs, Adrian is no stranger to cooking.
“I mainly do soups and slow cooks,” he said.
“If I’m cutting veggies at home I can be a bit over-confident and then realise I don’t have that knife glove on my hand so I probably should take it easy!”
Adrian’s future in the kitchen looks bright, with genU working alongside JobAccess and Vision Australia to expand his role by introducing adaptive technologies such as talking scales and other speaking devices.