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Craig Shanahan is the blind chef


Craig Shanahan is the blind chef

TAFE NSW Nepean graduate Craig Shanahan is proving that you can follow your dreams no matter your circumstances. At just 27 years old, Craig has not let his vision impairment stop him from completing the Diploma and Advanced Diploma of Hospitality Management so that he can open his own café/dessert bar.

Diagnosed with cancer at the age of two, Craig tragically lost the vision in one of his eyes. Not to be deterred, he followed his love of cooking by completing the Certificate II and Certificate III in Commercial Cookery at TAFE NSW and worked as a qualified chef for a number of years. At the age of 23 years, tragedy struck again, Craig suffered a life threatening brain tumor, and lost the vision in his other eye.

“When I finished high school I knew that I wanted to be a chef, it’s what I have always wanted to do. Cooking was a hobby of mine and so I decided to become a fully qualified chef,” said Craig Shanahan.

“I’d been living in Queensland for only six weeks when doctors discovered the life threatening brain tumor. After spending four weeks in hospital and months recovering, I moved back to Sydney to be with family.

“I still had the dream of opening up a café, so once I was able to, I decided to go back to TAFE NSW to study. I know how to cook but I needed to learn the front of house and how to manage and run my own business which is why I enrolled in the Diploma and Advance Diploma Hospitality Management.”

Before commencing further study at TAFE NSW Nepean, Craig completed a phone and a touch-typing course with Vision Australia. This adaptive technology gives users like Craig the ability to navigate a computer and smartphone through voice commands and touch.

Recommencing study at TAFE NSW was a little daunting for Craig as he was nervous about finding his way around the facilities.

“Everyone at TAFE NSW Nepean has been extremely kind and helpful. My teachers were just amazing, they would convert the class notes into a format so that my computer could read them to me, and I could complete assessments and study at home.”

“My classmates were incredible, I’ve made some lifelong friends – they are the friendliest and most helpful people, we supported each other through the course and still catch-up on a regular basis.”

Not limiting his study and learning to TAFE NSW, during a holiday break Craig completed a two-week Guide Dog course and he now has a guide dog Rocko, who accompanies him everywhere.

“The first time I bought Rocko to class I was a little nervous, but it turns out that I had nothing to be nervous about.”

Not resting on his laurels, Craig is busy trying to find the right space in the Penrith area so that he can open his own café called The Blind Chef Café & Dessert Bar. The business name has been registered and it will be a café by day and dessert bar by night.

“The qualifications I gained from TAFE NSW Nepean have taught me everything I need to know to start my own business. I’ve got a solid understanding on rostering, finance and WH&S procedures and policies.”

Not wanting to reveal too much about The Blind Chef Café & Dessert Bar, Craig has a developed a dessert concept that will bring fine dining restaurant style desserts to customers who love that style of food but want to enjoy it in a more relaxed setting.

To find out more about commercial cookery or hospitality management at TAFE NSW visit or phone 131 601

Media contact: Emma Cawley, TAFE NSW Media Officer,, mobile 0412 478 415