In life, when something gets in your path, there’s only one way to move — forward. That’s exactly what 44-year-old Szabolcs Kurucsai did after losing his eyesight nine years ago.
Following an eye operation in his mid-20s, Kurucsai lost sight in one of his eyes. Then, nine years ago, his sight in the other eye faltered.
After being told by several doctors that his condition was irreversible, Kurucsai had to deal with becoming completely blind.
"I didn't give it up, I didn't want to commit suicide... I'm not this kind of guy... I visited doctor after doctor, but everybody said, whether you accept it or not, it will never change. So I accepted it."
The Hungarian founded the Mast Association, a non-profit that spreads awareness, specifically among children, on how to behave with handicapped people.
"People are not snobbish because they are bad. They are snobbish because they have never been faced with this kind of situation,” he explained.
In just five years, he has visited countless schools, meeting more than 50,000 children, and in just six months, teaching 5,000.
On his visits, many were surprised to discover that he was capable of performing difficult day-to-day tasks such as cooking.
In one class, he offered some children eye patches, to attempt to cook blindfolded. He observed that after putting on the patches, the students began to help and accompany each other around the room. This resonated with Kurucsai; he too decided he wanted to attend cooking school.
Kurucsai was required to complete 386 hours of cooking training, but nobody wanted to hire him as a trainee. Then, Art Hotel Szeged gave him a chance and he graduated from the 1-year programme with an A grade.
Kurucsai has no bad memories from the experience: "My best memories? The first time I made risotto. I will always remember the happy feeling I felt that day when I tasted my own cooking... another very happy moment was when I held my diploma in my hand. I even cried a bit that I had managed to complete it."
Kurucsai explains he’s fond of cooking but the hustle of a busy kitchen is too much for him.
“I only did the classes to prove to myself, and to society, that a blind man can do it, to set an example.”
Kurucsai is also interested in magic. Ideally, he'd like to work magic tricks into his "sympathy" courses in kindergartens.
The cook intends to start his own YouTube on which he would cook with other people, as well as writing a cookbook.
He will also take a barista class in October and is interested in doing an international tour to visit a different chef’s kitchen each day for 50 days.
"There is nothing that blind people cannot do. We can do a lot more things than people think. But they don't know how to handle blind people,” Kurucsai said.