Chef Darren: The Challenge of Profound Deafness

Chef Darren: The Challenge of Profound Deafness

Sat, 07/18/2020 - 1:00pm - 1:30pm

Darren's graduation from CIA

Credit: Linda Weiss

This film profiles the determination of a profoundly deaf boy and his family as they work together to find ways for Darren to communicate. 

In Chef Darren: The Challenge of Profound Deafness, airing Saturday, July 18, 2020 at 1 p.m. on WXXI-TV, you'll see Darren grow from an early, silent childhood to his graduation from The Culinary Institute of America. Archival footage captures intimate moments revealing the challenges that Darren, his parents and his older brother, Seth all face.  Darren speaks candidly about his frustrations with the judgments of his peers in school, as his parents decided to "mainstream" him through the public education system. We learn that Darren gets a cochlear implant. 

As he moves out into the world, he meets and marries, Sawalin, who uses sign language only. Together they raise their son Noah, who has no hearing loss. We can see that Noah has become fluent in both spoken and sign language. Highlights of the film include Darren teaching Noah to cook, as well as arranging a hands on cooking class for hearing impaired children. Through his passionate determination, Darren goes on to become an award-winning Chef at his own trend-setting restaurant. Even though being deaf clearly does make some situations more difficult, the film shows how Darren is unstopped by his hearing loss, as he continues to forge ahead.

Fadiman's 40-year career covers a wide-range of subject matter, with seven films shown on PBS stations nationwide. Her films document meeting various physical challenges, including spinal cord injury, blindness, brain damage, emphysema, and aging.  

Additional subjects include: Women's reproductive rights, the vulnerability of our elections, progressive education, spiritual awakening, nuclear proliferation, women stepping forward in the villages of India, AIDS in Ethiopia, and college educations for first generation Latinos.

This special is part of Move to Include, a partnership between WXXI and the Golisano Foundation designed to promote inclusion for people with intellectual and physical disabilities. This Move to Include model expands nationally this year to five additional communities with support from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a private corporation funded by the American people. To learn more about the national efforts, visit