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News | Veterans' stories

Blind veteran celebrates world cooking tour in new book

Published on 22 Apr 2022

One of our blind veterans has released her second cookbook, entitled ‘A cook’s tour: Baking Blind goes global’.

In 2017 Penny Melville-Brown won the international Holman prize for blind people. The award would fund a tour to cook around the world and meet inspiring blind and sighted chefs.

The tour took Penny across the globe to collaborate with amazing chefs in destinations including America, Australia, China, Costa Rica and Malawi, amongst other incredible locations.

Photo of Malawian home cooks and local head chef Cephus teaching Penny, centre, authentic local cuisine
Malawian home cooks and local head chef Cephus teaching Penny, centre, authentic local cuisine
Photo of chef Mack, left, teaching Penny, right, how to make a peach gallete at San Francisco's One Market
Penny, right, makes peach galletes at San Francisco's One Market with Mack, left

The resulting book not only features over 100 varied and authentic recipes from six continents, but also chronicles the hardships Penny encountered on the tour due to her sight loss, and the life-changing journey she went on too.

Penny narrowly avoided being stranded in San Jose by Hurricane Nate. Rescue surfers and helicopters saved her videographer and nephew Toby from drowning in Australia, and she nearly died in a car crash in France.

Penny says:

“From the start, my goal was to showcase the capabilities and achievements of blind and other disabled people world-wide."
"Many of the chefs and cooks were nervous about a blind cook. But having a little knowledge, some basic skills and bags of enthusiasm broke through their fears. We became colleagues doing a job together and there was no stopping us. If only we could do the same in every walk of life and work."
Penny
Blind veteran
A photo of Fred, left, teaching Penny, right, about Bush Tucker in Australia
Fred, left, teaching Penny, right, about Bush Tucker in Australia
Photo of Melbournes expert Charleen, left, teaches Penny, right, her smoked egg pasta and ravioli
Melbournes expert Charleen, left, teaches Penny, right, her smoked egg pasta and ravioli
Photo showing Penny, centre, amidst fellow blind cooks In Lilongwe, Malawi
Penny, centre, with fellow blind cooks in Malawi

Penny served for nearly 22 years in the WRNS and Royal Navy including roles in NATO Intelligence plus Home Defence and War Planning.

After studying as the Navy’s first female barrister, she held legal roles until her eyesight deteriorated and, while promoted Commander, she was medically discharged in 1999.

Penny then started her own business, helping other disabled people to work and held many senior public appointments. Penny says:

“I wanted to help other disabled people and show the world that we can still do nearly anything. We do things differently but can be as successful as anyone else.”
A photo of Melbourne's top food writer Dani, left, with Penny, right
Melbourne's top food writer Dani, left, teaches Penny, right, one of her key recipes
A photo of Maribel, left, and Penny, right, in Melbourne
Penny, right, and fellow blind chef Maribel, left, in Melbourne

After being medically discharged from the Navy, Penny got in touch and we have been supporting her ever since.

Penny says:

“Blind Veterans UK’s support has meant that I can live more independently which, in turn, has allowed me to continue working and pursue my ambitions. They’ve helped me with many different bits of accessible kit, like a screen reader, that make life with blindness so much easier.”
Photo of Kate, left, teaching Penny, right, her fish pie in Virginia Beach
Penny, right, making fish pie with Kate, left, in Virginia Beach
Photo of Tanya, left, showing blind Brit cook, Penny, right, the basics of her famous Creole cuisine in California
Tanya, left, showing Penny, right, her famous Creole cuisine in California

Pick up a copy of Penny’s book on Amazon

Buy now