Sara Chrisman, Carissa Krausam and Joshua Glick were looking for a new culinary experience.
Their latest adventure brought them to Crust Restaurant in Chandler on Tuesday night, more specifically, The Ostrich, which is a speakeasy of sorts located in the basement.
The three of them stepped down the stairs to the speakeasy door, walked inside and moments later had their sense of sight cut off--at least temporarily. They now entered a world of complete darkness.
A trained guide grabbed each of their hands one by one and placed it on his arm, just above his elbow. The three of them walked slowly to their table, perhaps catching their feet once or twice as they adjusted to having no sense of perception of where they were nor where they were going.
“It looked like a new experience,” said Glick on why he attended. It was "something new," one of his friends chimed in. They chatted with one another to try and figure out where in the restaurant they were at.
All three were led to a booth in a dimly lit corner. On the table were the normal place settings—a napkin with a fork, spoon and knife on it and a water glass.
For the next couple hours, they’ll enjoyed a multi-course meal in darkness. The menu was explained, but the guests did not see how each dish was prepared. They had to rely on their other senses—smell, taste, touch, hearing.
“As they go through the experience, they’ll start to realize that they’re still able to do quite a few things they didn’t think they’d be capable of doing,” said Jim La May, Executive Director of Arizona Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired. He suggested mentally envisioning the space in front of you as a clock and using the numbers to describe where the water or wine glass is.
For those who can see, this may seem like a fun way to dine. For 200,000 Arizonans, this is an everyday reality. It does not mean that each person is 100 percent blind—true, some are--but others may be legally blind and have a severe visual impairment, but still some sight ability.
The dinner was put on in partnership with the Arizona Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired, which provides training programs to help those with visual disabilities learn to do everyday tasks like getting dressed in the morning, brushing their teeth or how to use magnification tools to write a check or read a letter.
The first course: a roasted beet salad with goat cheese, walnut pesto on garlic honey ciabatta bread.
Glick laughs as his first bite is “all cheese.”
“I love cheese, anything cheese. I’m like ‘yes,’ Chrisman tells her table as she decides whether to use a fork or pick up the appetizer with her hands.
Two tables over, Steve Spencer and Kamie Best are seated across from each other.
“Ohhh. Smell the salad. It smells like balsamic!” she reacts.
“First bite in—here we go,” said Spencer.
They both agree that without the sense of site, they focused more on the aromas and textures.
In total, 17 people showed up for the event and left with a new perspective on vision.
To learn more about the Arizona Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired, visit their website, www.acbvi.org.