A Culinary Craze Aids Life-Changing Cause
'Man's Dogs Will Set Blind Kids Free'
Bob Baillie was featured in a story from the May 13 issue of The News & Observer. To read the story, click here.
When it comes to eating, oftentimes, as the familiar adage goes, the eyes can be larger than the stomach. End result? A wolfed-down meal, an over-stuffed tummy and, ultimately, nonfulfillment.
Dining in the dark, a culinary trend that originated in Europe more than 10 years ago, allows dinner guests to delight in their other senses rather than eating simply because they see food sitting in front of them. The absence of vision, it is said, allows the remaining senses to become keener; it also helps the hungry eater to slow down, and to fully appreciate the meal for its various aromas, textures and tastes.
Although this culinary craze has only made its way into big-city restaurant scenes in the U.S., on Friday, May 14, Carolina Eye Associates in Southern Pines will host “Dining in the Dark” at CCNC to benefit MIRA USA, a national nonprofit in Aberdeen that strives to provide free guide dogs to children who are visually handicapped.
Perhaps nobody knows what it’s like to dine in the dark quite like Bob Baillie, MIRA’s founder. Ditto what a blessing a guide dog is.
Baillie suddenly lost his vision in 2008 during a bypass surgery gone wrong.
“Being blind really puts a kink in your lifestyle,” he says, commenting on the near impossibility of navigating through rural parts of the area without assistance.
When he received Devon, an intensely trained Bernese Mountain Dog from the Mira Foundation in Montreal, his days became fulfilling once again.
“My dog takes me wherever I need to go,” says Baillie “And he’s more than a companion. He’s a social bridge to the community,” he says, adding, with a chuckle, that he’s met more people in the community with Devon by his side in the past two years than he’d met in over a decade with his eyesight.
Baillie, MIRA USA and Carolina Eye would like all children who are blind to have the opportunity to be able to experience this same freedom of mobility and bridge to the community. The organization has recently provided its first dog to a child in need. Each guide dog costs about $60,000 to train.
The “Dining in the Dark” event will begin at 6:30 p.m. at CCNC. Tickets are $100, and the evening will include a cocktail hour during which guests will be able to bid on a Tiger Woods autographed golf bag.
“The dining room will be fully lit,” Kathy Szyja, MIRA volunteer says, explaining that guests will be asked to wear a blindfold throughout the sensory feast.
But guests needn’t worry of being spilled on, she adds. Waiters will be able to see.
For tickets and more information, call (910) 944-7757.
More like this story