Cooking Up Some Tasty Stories

Welcome to QC Enews Empowerment

We’ve got some tasty treats for you in this edition of our newsletter.

First off is the story about our culinary class through QC Learning. Led by instructor Jeremy Cowart, our members have created possibly the most delicious southern fried chicken I’ve ever eaten.

Then for dessert, we have some news about a bake sale happening next week to benefit Quality Connections,  thanks to some philanthropic Social Work students from Northern Arizona University.

We hope you enjoy this edition of Enews Empowerment.

– Armando Bernasconi,
Co-Founder and CEO

Culinary Classes: Finger-Lickin' Good

It started as a search for some good southern fried chicken.

Sure, there are a few fast food options in Flagstaff, but Quality Connections Culinary Instructor Jeremy Cowart was looking for the real thing – that crunchy, juicy, salty comfort food that was a staple of his childhood in Arkansas and Georgia.

And since he couldn’t find it, he turned to his Quality Connections adult learning students and taught them how to make it.

Now, six months after they began tinkering with spices and the techniques, Jeremy and his students think they’ve hit on a winning recipe – and everyone who’s tasted it seems to agree!

“It really is that good,” Jeremy said. “Every time they make it and taste it and see how it’s improved, they are so proud of what they’ve done.”

If the idea of adults with developmental disabilities working at a stove with pans of hot oil gives you pause, Jeremy would like you to reconsider.

“I know they can do it; they just need help to do it carefully and slowly,” he said. “Obviously, the first few times, you’ll get someone that doesn’t listen carefully and there’s some oil that splatters. But once they get into the groove of something, these guys can do almost anything.”

Jeremy knows from personal experience the barriers that can prevent someone with a disability from learning to cook. Jeremy has mild autism and says that “when I was younger, I wasn’t the most trustworthy in the kitchen.”

Fortunately, he discovered culinary arts in high school and fell in love with cooking. He’s worked in restaurant kitchens and catered events, and brought all that knowledge to his students at Quality Connections when he joined the staff in early 2022.

His first decision was to grab his students attention by starting with food that would be interesting to them.

His first lessons weren’t learning how to boil water for spaghetti; he went straight for baking cakes and pies and making apple cider. If a student mentioned a food they had at a restaurant or event, Jeremy would turn it into a class project.

Jeremy believes having confidence in cooking leads to confidence in other living and working skills for adults with developmental disabilities. 

“It gives them the opportunity to understand they can make it happen for themselves,” he added. “It can translate into getting a job or finding a home. Food’s the foundation; it’s the easiest way to learn to take care of yourself.”

The work of the Quality Connections culinary crew in refining a delicious fried chicken recipe is another example of the many talents people with disabilities have – if they are given a chance to explore them.

Or as Jeremy puts it: “If you know anyone who has a developmental disability, give them a shot, because they can really surprise you with what they can do, if you give them the time or attention.”

Save the Date: Bake Sale for QC on 10/7

Grab a cup of joe and some homemade baked goods on October 7 from 8 am to 4 pm in front of the Dairy Queen on Route 66 in Williams. Many thanks to the Social Work students of Northern Arizona University for hosting this fundraiser!

We need Quality Connections . . . like you!

You can help individuals with disabilities become independent and productive members of our community. There are many way to be a ‘Quality Connection’ and get involved and all of them are important:

Every purchase from QC Office equals employment and job training opportunities for a person with disabilities.

Enable a person with disabilities to become a productive member of our community.

You’ll be doing good. Plus, you’ll get a dollar-for-dollar credit on your AZ state taxes (up to $800!)

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