About Deaf Chef Ross

The Team

Jade Girvan – Administration Officer

Sonia Younger – Cooking Mentor

Ross Onley-Zerkel – Food and Cooking Coach

Chef Ross

Ross is the founder of Deaf Chef Ross.

  • Certificate III in Commercial Cookery
  • Certificate IV in TAE (Training and Education)
  • Certificate IV in Disability Work
  • Working with Children Check
  • Level 2 First Aid
  • A passion for fresh and whole foods because they are grown for us to cook and eat them
  • A strong belief in eating home-cooked meals regularly 
  • A semi-vegetarian who enjoys the occasional meat

The video was recorded by Ross’s teacher when he completed an assessment of a dessert dish.

Ross's childhood

Red Hill South, Mornington Peninsula

“I started early at the age of 11 from cooking for mum because she worked in the evenings. My father is a vegetarian so I learned to eat raw foods and lots of vegetables. My family and neighbours grew some and I helped them prepare and eat home-cooked meals that were delicious.

I love chatting with friends about foods, the flavours they have, the health benefits they give us, and cooking them in different ways that are healthy. I learned to take photos of the meals I cooked and post them on Instagram, a way of sharing how I creatively cook and present healthy dishes.”

Photo: Ross plays with food mindfully such as peeling a mandarin in focus for as long as he can without breaking it. Somers Beach by Kath Haydon Photography

Personal Experience

Overcoming a health issue

Ross experienced health issues in his early 30’s and developed a case of psoriasis, a skin condition of red, scaly spots mostly on his lower legs. The spots spread on his hands, arms and head during the flare-ups. After years of medical advice and several medications that were unsuccessful, Ross was advised that the ‘disease’ is incurable.

Ross was beginning to lack self-esteem. One day he went to a public event on a humid day where he noticed people eyeballing his legs and making comments, and he felt the depression hit him again. Enough was enough. 

Ross researched the causes of skin conditions and discovered the core issue. Next, he researched natural remedies that can assist the issue. He discovered apple cider vinegar in its raw form helped balance the acidity of the body. The spots disappeared in a few months and Ross was delighted to wear shorts again. He was really excited that he could fix and manage the issue himself based on his research. His skin has improved since, and so has his mental health.

The experience helped Ross understand how people’s feelings can be affected by physical health issues which can have an impact on their mental health.

Getting there...

The Business

After a career change, Ross studied cookery and worked at two cafes. A close colleague suggested that he deliver cooking classes to encourage deaf people to cook and eat healthy foods. Ross created Deaf Chef Ross website and Facebook Page. He completed a business course to develop a business plan.

In 2018 Ross travelled in USA to meet deaf chefs and gained some insights on their career life. Alan Abrams (Atable! in NYC) and David Uzzell (Washington DC) both stated the importance of educating children very early about eating foods with nutrients. Ross discovered his niche! He wanted to coach people and help them to introduce more nutrients in their diets by developing their food knowledge and cooking skills.

Ross registered with the NDIS for Deaf Chef Ross to deliver services to deaf people with NDIS supports.

Ross was granted a scholarship at Well College Global (formerly Cadence Health) and is studying Advanced Certificate in Human Nutrition and Health Coaching so he can become a nutritionist.

His wish is to help people to improve and manage their health with foods that are healing and food medicines.

Ross with David Uzzell, a deaf chef in Washington DC, USA.