Episode 161 – Unstoppable Unique TV Program Creator Ren’ee Rentmeester
Have you ever heard of Ren’ee Rentmeester? Well, possibly especially if you lived in Florida in the early 2000s or if you searched around YouTube. Ren’ee is the producer and creator of a program called “Cooking Without Looking”. Ren’ee always wanted to have a career in journalism and began by getting her college degree in the subject.
She worked for television stations in Florida until she decided to start her own advertising agency. While interested in journalism Renee also has a strong entrepreneurial streak which was enhanced as she worked on a number of nonprofit boards.
In 2001 she decided to create this unique show called “Cooking Without Looking”. Ren’ee is not blind but felt having a program that would feature blind cooks and chefs was worth exploring. The program aired on a public tv station for a time in Miami. Now you can find it on YouTube and there is also a Cooking Without Looking podcast. Renee is seeking ways to bring the program back to a major streaming service. Don’t be surprised if this happens as Renee is clearly unstoppable.
About the Guest:
For the past 22 years, I have advocated for people who are Blind/Visually impaired through the TV show called, “Cooking Without Looking,” the ONLY TV show which features people who are Blind/Visually Impaired. We aired on PBS in South Florida.
Blind people prepare their favorite recipes and speak frankly (including humor) about their lives as People living with Blindness. It’s not sad. The feeling is like, “This is my life, and oh, by the way, I’m blind.”
Mr. Fred Schroeder, President of the World Blind Union, says this about our show: “Your work fits well with our belief that blind people need encouragement to live normal lives and the sighted public needs the opportunity to learn that blindness does not render people helpless nor grant them with superhuman gifts. Your show shows blind people doing normal things, and that is a powerful message for the sighted public and for blind people themselves.”
Over the years, I have spoken to thousands of Blind people in various organizations such as the National Federation of the Blind (NFB); the American Council of the Blind(ACB); and the American Federation of the Blind(AFB).
Before that time, I worked at CBS as a Press and Public Relations Manager/Spokesperson; Associate News Producer; and Assignment Editor. I’ve been nominated for two Emmys…one for a series of Black History Month PSAs about the Miami people who fought in the Civil Rights movement. The other was for the writing of a special on youth gangs, “Youth Violence: Walking The Line.” I’ve written/published two books of poetry available on Amazon…”Visions From a Dream Called, ‘Life’: The Poetry of Meadowville”; and “Visions II: The Poetry of Life.”
Ways to connect with Ren’ee:
The Cooking Without Looking TV Show
Cooking Without Looking TV Show
Cooking Without Looking Podcast:
Anywhere you get your podcast, and is available on Alexa-enabled devices
About the Host:
Michael Hingson is a New York Times best-selling author, international lecturer, and Chief Vision Officer for accessiBe. Michael, blind since birth, survived the 9/11 attacks with the help of his guide dog Roselle. This story is the subject of his best-selling book, Thunder Dog.
Michael gives over 100 presentations around the world each year speaking to influential groups such as Exxon Mobile, AT&T, Federal Express, Scripps College, Rutgers University, Children’s Hospital, and the American Red Cross just to name a few. He is Ambassador for the National Braille Literacy Campaign for the National Federation of the Blind and also serves as Ambassador for the American Humane Association’s 2012 Hero Dog Awards.
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Michael Hingson ** 00:00
Access Cast and accessiBe Initiative presents Unstoppable Mindset. The podcast where inclusion, diversity and the unexpected meet. Hi, I’m Michael Hingson, Chief Vision Officer for accessiBe and the author of the number one New York Times bestselling book, Thunder dog, the story of a blind man, his guide dog and the triumph of trust. Thanks for joining me on my podcast as we explore our own blinding fears of inclusion unacceptance and our resistance to change. We will discover the idea that no matter the situation, or the people we encounter, our own fears, and prejudices often are our strongest barriers to moving forward. The unstoppable mindset podcast is sponsored by accessiBe, that’s a c c e s s i capital B e. Visit www.accessibe.com to learn how you can make your website accessible for persons with disabilities. And to help make the internet fully inclusive by the year 2025. Glad you dropped by we’re happy to meet you and to have you here with us.
Michael Hingson ** 01:21
Well, Hi, and welcome to another exciting episode of unstoppable mindset. They’re all exciting, actually. So I don’t know why I said that. But they are and it’s fun to talk about whatever comes along. today. Our guest is Ren’ee Rentmeester Ren’ee has an actually a very interesting story to tell, in terms of what she’s doing now, what she has done, and so on. And I think it is a fascinating thing that hopefully will fascinate all of you as well. So we are really glad that you’re here to listen to it. And Ren’ee, welcome to unstoppable mindset. Good morning or afternoon to you.
Ren’ee Rentmeester ** 01:58
Well, thank you so much, Michael. And thank you for the honor, I’m truly humbled by you honoring me with the interview. So thank you so much.
Michael Hingson ** 02:08
Well, my pleasure. And you know, as usual, this is really more of a conversation than just a plain old interview. So feel free to treat it that way. It’s it’s both of us talking to each other. Well, let’s start with a little bit about the early Ren’ee you know, before you did what you’ve been doing lately and so on, so tell us about you growing up and all that and how you got where you are is it were?
Ren’ee Rentmeester ** 02:31
Well, usually my airplanes perfect.
Michael Hingson ** 02:35
Come fly with me.
Ren’ee Rentmeester ** 02:38
I was a born and raised in Green Bay, Wisconsin was a daughter My father is Anthony rent Meester. My mom, Margaret and dad was a worker in a factory, paper factory Procter and Gamble. And so you know, I’m just just was born and raised there. And I always wanted to go into TV. And my family were, you know, farmers and factory workers. So that seemed like, sort of a crazy idea to them. Like, what are you talking about get real and such. But I did it anyway. And I worked myself through college, working about six jobs. The favorite I could tell about is working in a pickle factory working six days a week, 12 hours a day putting pickles in jars or one at a time. I don’t know if you remember the I Love Lucy episode where they were working in a factory. It was pretty much like
Michael Hingson ** 03:42
Yeah, well, one at a time. So why one at a time.
Ren’ee Rentmeester ** 03:48
Because they were spears, the pickle spears and and you had to put them in there because you had to get them standing nicely. next to one another. And in the middle, there would be a half a pickle half a half a cucumber that would go in and then at the end of the whole thing. The machine would cut that middle pickle into more spheres. So it was it was quite a learning experience. And I knew that I wanted to continue with college so I wasn’t working in a pickle factory the rest of my life.
Michael Hingson ** 04:26
You didn’t want to be in that much of a pickle. Oh, I had to say
Ren’ee Rentmeester ** 04:30
it was a doozy of an opportunity.
Michael Hingson ** 04:32
I get it. Yeah, well we’ve been so it’s pretty unique that that that kind of a job. How did all the pickle juice get into the jars? Did they also put pickle juice in or did the pickles just leak
Ren’ee Rentmeester ** 04:50
in cotton pickles was a in the machine. I’m trying to visualize it now because honestly I don’t remember but I know There was a part of the machine that just poured the pickle juice into it. Yeah.
Michael Hingson ** 05:04
And then when you filled a jar, what did you do with the jar?
Ren’ee Rentmeester ** 05:09
Well, it was on a moving line. So you know I’m a conveyor belt would just take it and then someone was at the end of the line, and those people will have to put them in put the jars that are already covered into a box.
Michael Hingson ** 05:28
So did you put pickles in while the jars were moving? Or? Oh, yeah. So you had to work at a at a decent speed and they didn’t let you slow down.
Ren’ee Rentmeester ** 05:40
And they didn’t let me talk, which earned me rubber gloves over the head several times from little Katie, the four person
Michael Hingson ** 05:51
which is for talking.
Ren’ee Rentmeester ** 05:52
That’s right for talking, you know, so um, yeah, it was a problem. My head I talked too much.
Michael Hingson ** 05:59
Well, so that was one of your unique jobs in college. What were you majoring in?
Ren’ee Rentmeester ** 06:05
Journalism? I have a degree in broadcast journalism from the University of Wisconsin in Eau Claire.
Michael Hingson ** 06:12
So you did pickles among other things? Yes. You go ahead. Oh, no, no,
Ren’ee Rentmeester ** 06:20
and and worked in a disco bar? I thought I just throw that out there. So pretty much you can you can tell I was also a bouncer at that disco bar.
Michael Hingson ** 06:31
Wow. And did you throw pickles at people? Or why you? No, no, I hear you that that you had a variety of different kinds of jobs. You just were pretty flexible in that regard? Huh? Yes. Well, you know
Ren’ee Rentmeester ** 06:45
what, I had the goal, I had the goal of working myself through college. And that was the only way I was gonna get through. And actually the I was bartending at the bar. But then they found that I could be useful as a as a bouncer as well, because guys didn’t want to look nasty when I walked up to them on was really nice and said, Okay, you have to go now, you know, they couldn’t get into a barber all with me and look bad in front of the girlfriend. So
Michael Hingson ** 07:20
that’s pretty cool. What did your parents think of all these jobs?
Ren’ee Rentmeester ** 07:24
Well, a mom would after I got home from the pickle factory. Mom would make me take my most of my clothes off in the garage, and she gave me a set of clothes because I smelled so bad. Imagine vinegar times 1000. That’s what I smell like. And then sometimes I would I had a marketing job in, in a mall, and I also worked at a TV station as a nighttime receptionist.
Michael Hingson ** 07:58
Okay. Well, so you again, you did a lot of different things. And that’s pretty unique. But it certainly had to broaden your horizons and a lot of different ways that I can appreciate that. But you graduated then and had your degree in journalism, and what did you do?
Ren’ee Rentmeester ** 08:17
Um, hey, I moved to move to Tampa first. And I just looked for any kind of job I could get to keep myself going. And one of them was a receptionist at an employment agency. And so as people would come in to the employment agency, I would ask them if they knew anyone in TV because it’s, it’s, you know, it’s always who you know, and all that sort of thing. And I talked to this one gentleman, and he told me all his sister worked at a TV station, which was amazing. And I’m so sure he gave me someone to contact by this time. I was in Miami. I was only in Tampa for a year. I sold magazines in Tampa, and then I moved to Miami. And that’s when I became the receptionist. And they he led me to assist her who led me to a job at an independent station in Miami. I wrote on the back of a motorcycle I didn’t have a car or in the back of a motorcycle to get there and it rained it poured. It was my summer. It’s
Michael Hingson ** 09:35
Miami. Yeah. What made you move to Florida from Wisconsin?
Ren’ee Rentmeester ** 09:40
My boyfriend boy who I eventually married. Oh, good. Okay. Now here are the usual the usual suspect.
Michael Hingson ** 09:50
Well, so you moved down there and so you got a job. Then through your sister and her contact
Ren’ee Rentmeester ** 10:00
The gentleman’s sister Yeah, I don’t have a system to gentleman sister. Yeah, through her and I got to know who she was. And she had been in Miami for a long time. And my boss was, was pretty amazing. And I was a writer there as a writer at the station.
Michael Hingson ** 10:20
So what kinds of things did you write for? What did you write?
Ren’ee Rentmeester ** 10:24
Um, I started out just writing voiceovers, you know, little voiceovers I used to have between shows, I
Michael Hingson ** 10:30
don’t know shows. Yeah. Well, not commercials, not the commercials, but just
Ren’ee Rentmeester ** 10:35
the little voiceovers, like telling you like you had an acute C and about the show that was coming up. Like Benson falls down the stairs. You know, whatever. And and so it was the little things like that.
Michael Hingson ** 10:52
And then again, the game say something like, can you believe that that Benson guy fell down those stairs? Like Benson we liked Benson. That was a fun show.
Ren’ee Rentmeester ** 11:03
BENSON Yeah. I don’t know how I just started that. It just popped into my head.
Michael Hingson ** 11:08
Well, so you wrote, and then what
Ren’ee Rentmeester ** 11:15
we see there, your independent station. I was there for 13 years, and it turned into CBS. And I just said one place. And so I became that an associate producer and news and an assignment editor and news. And that was pretty cool. Because as associate producer, you write the news stories, I was just gonna ask. Yeah, you write the news stories. And I remember one of my most memorable news stories that I wrote was about a little boy, he was three years old, and he needed a liver. And in Florida, there’s a rule against giving livers to certain people of certain ages, like, if you’re under certain age, and over a certain age, while I was on the news desk that day, and the mayor or the governor was doing one of those wonderful luncheons that they do. And I called the father of this little boy. And I said, Listen, I’m going to send my photographer over to you get over there. And my photographer is going to shoot you and the governor asking to get your son a liver. And it happened. I could have lost my job, but it happened.
Michael Hingson ** 12:36
So you created the news.
Ren’ee Rentmeester ** 12:39
Yes. Well, it helped because three days later, the little boy had a liver. So the Governor made it happen.
Michael Hingson ** 12:51
Well, that’s cool. And then you took the the time and the interest in doing that. Because that certainly had to be, as you said, a little bit of a challenge and you could have lost your job over it.
Ren’ee Rentmeester ** 13:03
Right. But as your title is unstoppable mindset. I don’t ever let any of that train stop me like, what’s more important my job or little boy’s life?
Michael Hingson ** 13:15
Yeah. So did anybody chastise you for it? Or because of that or not? Okay. They Oh,
Ren’ee Rentmeester ** 13:23
yeah. Yeah. turned out great. I don’t even know if a lot of people knew that my cameraman and I did that. I mean, that we set it up, sort of, because, you know, no one ever said anything about it afterwards. So, but it worked for a while. And then the little boy died a couple months later, because his buddy Jack did it. But at least he has a chance.
Michael Hingson ** 13:48
Yeah. What year was that?
Ren’ee Rentmeester ** 13:51
Ah, let’s see. It was probably late 80s, early 90s.
Michael Hingson ** 14:00
Okay. So how long did you work at writing the news and being an associate producer and so on.
Ren’ee Rentmeester ** 14:09
I was I was there for that in a news department for one year. And then they created a job for me. I was a press and public relations manager. And that went upstairs because the news was downstairs and I went upstairs. And so I was I suppose, spokesperson for the station. And I also produced the PSAs. So that was pretty cool. And in the meantime, I started on a whole bunch of boards because I dealt with a lot of nonprofits. So that’s, that’s what I did there. And eventually, you know, 13 years later and you’re like, Well, what else can I do? And I started my own advertising and PR company. I left the station started my own advertising PR company. And then I thought of something because then with so many different so many different nonprofits, like six of them at once I was on the board. I wanted something for myself, and I wanted something that was a legacy for my family. So I wanted to make a purpose have a purpose.
Michael Hingson ** 15:23
Before we get there, I’m just curious. So you were there until after the World Trade Center terrorist attacks, because you were there? 13 years is that right?
Ren’ee Rentmeester ** 15:33
Was I? Um, no. Okay. Because we’re already to that. Yeah,
Michael Hingson ** 15:41
you’re gone by then. Because I was going to ask what, what you did or what was it like at the station and so on? Around September 11. But you were gone by then.
Ren’ee Rentmeester ** 15:51
Yeah, I was gone by then. I I remember that day, I remember where I was, I remember. I had a friend in New York, and I called her to see if she was okay. And I just watched her the coverage and and I kept my daughter home that day, my daughter was nine. And I kept her home from school. Because, you know, you didn’t know what was gonna happen?
Michael Hingson ** 16:19
Yeah. Yeah, there was no way to know. No. Well, you eventually started as you’re saying something that became very personal to you a project that you’ve been doing for quite a while, and in of itself is an interesting story. So why don’t you tell us a little bit about that?
Ren’ee Rentmeester ** 16:39
Okay, um, I created cooking without looking at the first TV show that features people who are blind and visually impaired,
Michael Hingson ** 16:47
which we really call low vision today and appropriately. So. Because when you talk about visually impaired, where we should be compared to people who have eyesight, just like, if you said hearing impaired to a person who was partially deaf, they probably Dec you because hearing impaired is as they recognize a way of comparing to people who can hear rather than saying deaf and hard of hearing, right. So it’s learning continuum. And so the whole concept of visually impaired is really unfortunate, for two reasons. One, visually, we don’t look different, just because we’re blind or partially, why do we deal with it in terms of impaired saying, well, you’re impaired if you can’t see fully? And so we’re learning to say, as deaf people already have blind or low vision, but anyway. Alrighty. So you want it you started this this show?
Ren’ee Rentmeester ** 17:47
Right? Right. Because TV was what I did, that was my tool. And if you want to change the way people look at people who are blind or, or, you know, low vision, you will have to show people, you know, and it’s also a way to bridge between the sighted community, the low vision community, the blind community, just just to show what is done because we still have an old mindset. So I did my research, and I went on some blind listservs. And learned about blindness from a lot of people. I did not know a blind person, I do not have a relative who was a blind person. It was just something I saw that needed to be done.
Michael Hingson ** 18:42
And you of course, are not blind. No, I am not. So you did a lot of research, which is always a great thing to do, and a great way to start. So this When did all this start?
Ren’ee Rentmeester ** 18:57
This started in 2001. Ironically, I’m talking to you and 2001. I was in my first meeting about the show, as the twin towers are being hit. That’s what happened. And we actually took a break from the meeting and saw as the towers were being hit. Yeah. So your your story is much more compelling. But But I remember like, How can this happen? How, you know, like, we become desensitized to things like this, and it almost seemed like we were watching a movie. It didn’t make any sense.
Michael Hingson ** 19:46
Yeah, it was very surreal to people because who would have thought somebody would fly our planes deliberately fly airplanes into the World Trade Center yet? That’s the end of the Pentagon. And of course Shanksville, Pennsylvania, but that’s what happened.
Ren’ee Rentmeester ** 20:04
Yep, exactly. So.
Michael Hingson ** 20:06
So what was the first meeting about? Was it trying to sell it to a station or plan or program? What was the meeting? Like? What was it?
Ren’ee Rentmeester ** 20:14
It was at Florida International University, the School of Hospitality, because that’s where I met a man who was a blind chef. And I met him. And then he was a professor there. And he introduced me to all the people he worked with. And we were looking for anything like how can we work together? Sponsorships, whatever. Um, and that’s, that’s what we did. That’s what we did it first. So So,
Michael Hingson ** 20:48
so when did the show actually start airing or when did you start producing it,
Ren’ee Rentmeester ** 20:56
we started producing an airing it. We started producing it in September of 2005. And after that, it went on in September. And we had a live studio audience at PBS station in West Palm Beach. And we were on like a couple of seasons. And then after that, we hit the recession at 2009.
Michael Hingson ** 21:31
How’s my typical like three and a half years to actually bring the show to fruition? Since you had your first meeting in 2001. And it took until 2005, for the show to actually come on,
Ren’ee Rentmeester ** 21:44
there are so many moving parts. First, I found a man who I thought we should use as a host right. And then I had to start going out and selling the program. Because even my I was on the Board of Governors for the National Academy, TV Arts and Sciences. And even they couldn’t understand having a show with blind people, because they thought blind people only only are taught, and that a lot of times I still find that out, but they couldn’t understand it. So it was a lot of selling them apart just to sell the idea. Then I went to talk to the TV station. And then we had to find a sponsor, because we actually had to pay to get it produced on there. And so I produced it. And it was just a lot of explaining to people and making people understand and once they understood, you know, everybody really loved it and moved on from there.
Michael Hingson ** 22:58
So you obviously had a lot to go through at the same time you had your own advertising agency, you said right,
Ren’ee Rentmeester ** 23:07
right, exactly. So a lot of times whatever costs, I had to pick it up from my advertising company. And because I was you know, like, there were like three of us there. And PR, I do did a lot of PR for people. And I always tried to look at the positive side of it, trying to help people with my PR, you can have negative PR or positive PR. And I always I always used it for the positive and as a matter of fact, even just helping people with it.
Michael Hingson ** 23:42
Do you believe the in the comment, there’s no such thing really as bad PR that even bad PR is really good PR?
Ren’ee Rentmeester ** 23:53
Well, I to a point, I won’t say bad and good. Effective PR, which means that people at least know about you. And in some ways, because a lot of times they’ve done studies that people don’t realize how they know about you or how they heard your name, but they just know you know, they know your name. And so So yeah, I just I believe that. Just getting your name out there. Sometimes people don’t know how but they know of you.
Michael Hingson ** 24:36
And so there’s no qualitative factor there. They just know who you are.
Ren’ee Rentmeester ** 24:42
Right. Exactly. Exactly. So then we continually went to many food festivals and people were just amazed we were at Macy’s. We went to the Boca Raton wine and food festival. We do presentations with our hosts, one of which was time Although a blind on one was he has, he isn’t nearly blind, nearly total and the other man who, who was not all the way blind at all, but we just we just had a lot of fun going together driving down the road hitting these festivals and showing people what it was like.
Michael Hingson ** 25:27
So was this before the show actually started airing or while the show
Ren’ee Rentmeester ** 25:32
afterwards because when we hit 2009, we, most people didn’t have any money to sponsor anymore because of the recession. So we just we had to find other ways to get the word out. And so that’s what we did, we went on the road or went to the festivals and showed people, we pretty much closed down Macy’s because the whole store when they announced that we were going to be there, everyone wanted to see people who were blind, you know, cook and give tips. And, and that’s the cool part about our show because it actually is a bridge between, you know, the sighted and non sighted communities. And and so we can understand one another, we don’t deal in stereotypes or, you know, something from the 1950s. We know what we can do, and we can do anything we want because we have an unstoppable mindset.
Michael Hingson ** 26:32
So is the show still airing at that time? Or were you just doing the festivals?
Ren’ee Rentmeester ** 26:37
No, the shows weren’t airing but I had to keep, I had to keep it going. There was no way I was going to stop it. Because I had a purpose. And I felt like I had a commitment because so many people were backing it at least you know, supportive, even least just in their words. I had to keep it going. So I did we kept it going through. I started a podcast in 2018. Where we talk to people, our motto is changing the way we see blindness everyone there is either blind or low vision. And we also during the pandemic, we started doing it on zoom as a TV show, which we still do now. And we reached 61 countries.
Michael Hingson ** 27:33
Tell me if you want a little bit about maybe some of the unique recipes or some of the interesting experiences on the show. Love to hear some stories.
Ren’ee Rentmeester ** 27:44
Okay. Well, you know, um, we had South African, it was a, it was a sort of organization like the lighthouse. And its Cape Town society for the blind, and we had them on there and they made South African food, which was like pretty cool. And then we had one gentleman when we were in Palm Beach, it was funny. We had a live studio audience and he was an elderly gentleman and he was he was nice man a little crusty. And he was showing us how to make it was like a poor it was called poor man’s I forgot what it was. Anyway, he was put here to test the noodles, he actually put his hand in the boiling water. And this was the way he did it. Obviously I cut it out for the TV crowd. But when I was there, the people were yelling at me stick his hands on the floor. It’s like he’s 80 years old, you know, he knows this is how he does it but I won’t put it in I’ll you know I’ll edit it out because I don’t want little kids watching that. But um, let’s see what other types of stories we we’ve had just like a lot of fun. We went to a school in Minnesota and we taught blind kids how to cook and we did our own little cooking without looking with them. And that was a lot of fun. We had a special script for them you know, it was just it’s just every everything is full of stories. We also have podcasts where we speak to individuals who are blind visually impaired, we they talk about their life as a person who’s blind or low vision sorry, caught myself and and and then at The end they present a recipe and all of our recipes that we present is the cooking without looking recipes of the day are submitted to us by blind or low vision people, and they’ve actually made them themselves. So we know that you know that they’re good recipes. We don’t have any sighted people present them. We just, you know, we just have a lot of fun together, we went to a bar, a year and a half ago, we went to an NFB convention, the Florida NFB and was a net, Alan and I in that now in our, our hosts, and we just had a great time. It’s like we’re family, we’ve been together now the 22 years, a full 22 years. So we just get a lot of laughs that way too, because we each have our own personality. Oh,
Michael Hingson ** 30:59
well, and that’s, that’s, that’s what really makes a long running operation work when you have a family and people are able to work together and so on. So what happened at the NFB of Florida convention? What did you guys do?
Ren’ee Rentmeester ** 31:16
Well, what we did was we put people on Facebook Live, and we had them tell their story. And then we took pictures with them, it’s sort of like we were like, famous, quote, unquote. And we just, we just had a good time, we had people talk about themselves, and what they were doing at the NFB convention. And out of that, we got a sponsorship out of the Florida Division of Blind Services, and they appeared on one of our shows. So that was, that was a good time. It’s nice to learn. I mean, every single person has a story that we can learn from, it doesn’t matter who you are, where you are, where you are. Everyone has a story that we can all learn from. And that’s it. That’s what makes us unstoppable. You know, you know, my computer went down and and it was like, Okay, well, what’s going on here? You know, what, what’s happening with the universe, and my computer went down, because I couldn’t do any of the shows or the podcasts. And those are really my fun. That’s, that’s the fun in my life. I don’t bend to Disney World plenty of times.
Michael Hingson ** 32:37
There’s a lot of that, then on cruises,
Ren’ee Rentmeester ** 32:38
Ben to other countries. But this is my fun, because I feel like I’m doing something that matters.
Michael Hingson ** 32:47
So you, I remember in looking at your biography, you mentioned Fred Schroeder, who is the past president of the World Blind Union, tell me about meeting him and a little about that.
Ren’ee Rentmeester ** 32:59
Well, that was wonderful. I actually met him when he was president of the NFB. And we spoke there. And when I met him, I was I was just, you know, he seemed like a really great person. But when he said all the nice things about us, you know, how he loved the show, I was honored, because here’s a man who has been all over the place and who is blind, and told me that, you know, what we were doing helped. And honestly, when when you start something that has never existed, you’re sort of sitting there all by yourself, going, you know, what, what am I doing? Why am I doing this? And, and he made me feel like, we were doing something that mattered?
Michael Hingson ** 33:59
Well, today, is the show airing on any TV stations or is it?
Ren’ee Rentmeester ** 34:07
Well, that’s what we’re working on. We wanted to get the TV stations, we want to stream it. So been working on getting it either Netflix or the Food Network or, you know, something like that. I’ve been in contact with Rachael rays, PR people. And Stevie Wonder is PR person. She’s very nice. So you know what, we’re starting the rebirth. Round two, but we keep it going on Zoom. And with Zoom, we can reach people around the world, which is what we’ve been going.
Michael Hingson ** 34:47
Yeah. Which absolutely makes sense. Well, how are you being received by Rachael Ray is people Stevie Wonder and so on, and kind of what have you had to do to keep them interested and so on.
Ren’ee Rentmeester ** 35:02
Well, you know, it’s really just keeping on reminding people that we’re there. Stevie Wonder’s person, her PR, the PR person, you know, is Shelley. And she was very, very nice. And so I just keep up, you know, reminding her, Rachael Ray now has left her show, but she’s starting something new. So I emailed them, which is very recent, and they’re probably on vacation right now. And and people, you know, are actually very receptive. Well, we’ll see what happens. But just like before, you just have to keep on knocking on the doors chiseling something out, you know, just keeping on trying. That’s, that’s all you can do.
Michael Hingson ** 35:47
Have you looked at any of the other Food Network people in the the other celebrity types and gotten any, anywhere with any of them? Or have you tried?
Ren’ee Rentmeester ** 35:56
No, I really haven’t. Because I’m, I like the philosophy of Rachael Ray, which is similar to what we do. It’s you don’t have to be a fancy chef or whatever. It’s the home cooking. We’ve all learned from our parents, grandparents or whatever, how to cook, and survive and have a good time. And, and I liked the way she does it. So our philosophies are similar. In the past, the first, the first host that we had did reach out to one of the people, I don’t like the idea of, of, you know, racing or doing things fast and cooking in the kitchen or having a contest and you know, getting angry at one another. I don’t like that. I you know, I like just showing people as they are. Because I think that’s how we see ourselves. We’re not all we’re not all celebrities, we’re just people who are trying to get by and do the best we can.
Michael Hingson ** 37:07
I would say I think there are places for some kinds of competitions, but I hear what you’re saying. I think a lot of the angry, sharp edge things are really a problem. And they don’t, they don’t really serve a useful purpose. And I’ve enjoyed a lot of the Food Network. But I like things that are really more fun than yeah, getting angry.
Ren’ee Rentmeester ** 37:35
Right, right. And I and you can have so much fun in the kitchen. Think of it like, a lot of times, that’s the way we get to know our grandparents are our parents is cooking with them in the kitchen. You know, like, I cooked with my daughter, my daughter cooked with me from the time she was little. And honestly, I think she’s a better cook than me. She’s more of a detail person where I’m like, You know what, this is my art. I’m just gonna throw this in. This sounds like it’s gonna be good. Try this. Try that. So I’m a little more experimental. But that’s the way you get to know your family, in a lot of instances. So I like that part.
Michael Hingson ** 38:16
Oh, I still think it would be fun to somehow involve Bobby Flay because he’s such a fun guy. And yeah, he’s an incredibly fun guy. He’s an incredibly sophisticated guy. He’s got an incredible grasp on food preparation, but I bet he would be a fun guy to somehow be involved with
Ren’ee Rentmeester ** 38:37
that, well, you know what, firm your lips to God’s ears. I’ll give that a try. And you know, I’m living in a place of Ray Charles birthplace I live in Albany, Georgia. And, and so I was thinking about reaching out to their foundation to see how we could work together to get something done as well. There’s a beautiful monument to Ray Charles is in the Ray Charles Plaza on the river in Albany. And it turns around, it’s blueish. And it turns around, and it plays all of his songs in his voice. And is is is just really beautiful and inspiring, and, and a lot of funny things, a lot of the songs my mom used to sing.
Michael Hingson ** 39:28
Well, yeah, I think any place like that where you can get some funding would certainly be a valuable thing. But I, I think that an innovative visionary kind of guy, like a Bobby Flay might really take an interest in something like this, because it’s unique and it’s because it’s different. And since that’s just a thought, you know?
Ren’ee Rentmeester ** 39:54
That’s good. It’s a seed I’ll work on seeing how I can reach Bobby flaying. No problem.
Michael Hingson ** 40:02
So, how has the show changed over the years? Like, from the pandemic, to now and so on? Is it really still basically the same format? How has it evolved overall?
Ren’ee Rentmeester ** 40:16
Well, um, it really evolved from the way we were doing it before. You know, during the pandemic, we started off with people from the United States, and it evolved into going to like seven countries, and having people from all around the world actually watch us. And so, as I wrote in the letter to, I contacted the CEO, both CEOs on ones left now of Netflix, like, Okay, we’ve planted the seeds all over the world for you. And, and there’s an audience all over the world. And Netflix is, is one of the most watched shows by people who are blind, most watched streaming services of people who are blind, and all over the world. So they were, I had heard that that particular CEO was a very nice man. And I’ve always found a lot of people in TV are really nice, not, not the way we look at them. And TV shows they’re actually like, real human.
Michael Hingson ** 41:28
So have you had a response from Netflix yet? What was that? Have you had a response from Netflix yet?
Ren’ee Rentmeester ** 41:36
Um, no, no, we haven’t. His name was Ted Saran dose, and he’s the CEO over there. And so that’s where I sent it. You know, we’ll do Bobby Flay. But we’re, it’s just, you know, an ongoing process of planting seeds, planting seeds. To get it this far, has been pretty amazing. Because, you know, I’m sort of like the Wright brothers with the first airplane, no one can really visualize that, like, What the heck are you doing? And, and, and now we’ve gotten to a point where we can launch it in a bigger platform.
Michael Hingson ** 42:20
Have you had guests on the show from other countries? Or just the Yeah,
Ren’ee Rentmeester ** 42:25
yeah. We have we’ve we’ve had seven countries. They’re all blind people from other countries. It was, like I said, South Africa, Guyana.
Ren’ee Rentmeester ** 42:43
Barbados, Barbadoes. Let’s see where else where else where else trying to think of the ones off the top of my head. But those are just some of them. But
Ren’ee Rentmeester ** 42:57
everyone can go see them. They’re all on our cooking without looking YouTube channel right now. And that’s what we’re focusing on just getting the things done and and showing people but yeah, we’ve had lots of different Oh, Jamaica, we had to make it too. So that was pretty cool. So yeah, we’ve had all these countries, that’s really the biggest change that we’ve had is, is going and highlighting people from other countries, other people who are blind, cooking their native recipes in other countries.
Michael Hingson ** 43:35
How many shows have you produced so far?
Ren’ee Rentmeester ** 43:40
Wow. That’s a good one. I think we were up to like 90 something. I’m not a numbers person. You know, I’m a writer. So um, but I’m pretty close to around 90 And then the podcasts as well. We just, you know, I’ve got another podcast to do tomorrow with a lady. So she’s making peanut butter cookies. Yeah, only three ingredients. Peanut butter cookie. So she’s going to talk about her life, and Tara coin. So that’s what we do. So if you ever want to see or go to them, and enjoy them cooking without looking TV show on YouTube.
Michael Hingson ** 44:37
So how often do you produce a new show?
Ren’ee Rentmeester ** 44:42
Um, once a once a month, and we’re going to start up again since my computer and then the podcasts are like, several times a month like whoever comes out and wants to do a podcast. We produce their podcast several times. The month.
Michael Hingson ** 45:02
So, you’ve, you’ve had a number of interesting people on needless to say, What’s your favorite show so far?
Ren’ee Rentmeester ** 45:10
Oh my, well, that’s hard. That’s like asking her mother, a mother what her favorite child is, which one is your favorite child? It all depends on who was on there. We had a cute one. For Valentine’s Day once, we had two blind couples on there. And we had a lot of fun with that. Um, that was, that was a cute one. And then I really liked the one from South Africa. That was, I was cool. Maybe it’s like a little selfish because I love food from other countries. You can always see the similarities of of your own of the countries of your own. One of my favorite podcasts, we had a couple who was blind, and I actually they came to Miami and I walked him around Miami and the beaches and everything. And Mike Gravatt and his wife, Gianna, they’re there just a hoot to talk to. Let’s see what else they those are probably my favorites, that I can pop off the top of my head. But it’s, it’s nice to see that people get along and just enjoy themselves. And the blindness is really just a secondary factor. It’s it’s living and having fun and enjoying your life.
Michael Hingson ** 46:40
So when you do the shows, like on Zoom, and so on, you people are actually cooking during the shows. Oh, yeah,
Ren’ee Rentmeester ** 46:47
yeah, we have a script, everything.
Michael Hingson ** 46:50
So how does all that work in terms of the fact that typically, if you’ve got to have a camera and everything so people can see it? How, how easy is it to set all that up? I mean, from your side, it’s great. But if the other end where the people are actually doing the, the cooking and so on, how does that work? Oh,
Ren’ee Rentmeester ** 47:08
it actually works really great. Um, I’ve only had edit like one or two of them just a tiny bit, that people put their cameras up either the cameras or their computers, and they are able to cook and we practice first, we have a rehearsal a couple of days before. And we look to see where their cameras set up a lot of times, we you know, they have a family member or something who sets the camera for them in a certain area. It’s, and it goes really, really well because we we just do it ahead of time we show them you know, we take a look at see how their camera is set up or whether they’re using their computer, and whatever works for them. But we’ve had lots of success that way. Not a big deal. People are always excited to be on the show the tips. We had one young man mica, he made like he has it down the perfect chicken breast because that’s one of those things that can be really really difficult. And sort of dry, you can wear him as a shoe. And he he had a doubt and that became like, pretty popular. And he’s a young man and he just took us through it. He was like, Okay, you do this, you do this, you do this. I’m very, very attentive, lots of attention to detail.
Michael Hingson ** 48:43
When people are cooking, there’s, there’s, there’s the actual cooking part. And there’s the preparation part. So do people move their cameras around? Or do you just have them in one spot? How does all that work?
Ren’ee Rentmeester ** 48:56
No, um, it depends. It really depends on the recipe. We have one lady who has a special syrup, and she was making some food, very special syrup. Oftentimes, if there’s like a lot of cutting or preparation or whatever, we have them prep their food ahead of time. And then maybe just for example, if you need a cup of carrots, chopped carrots, they chop their carrots ahead of time, just like any other TV show, they chop their carrots ahead of time, and then show us just one. But there’s there’s not a lot of moving around. Most of them don’t move around, we haven’t worked out so like depending on the recipe, we tell them how to position your camera, how to position your computer, and, you know, look this way to your right to your love, you know. So, um, it actually hasn’t been harder. This is probably the first time I’m thinking about it when you ask me this, Michael.
Michael Hingson ** 49:57
The reason I ask is I’m just thinking Have me. One of my favorite recipes is a recipe that I will do on the grill outside. But the preparation is inside. It’s a chicken recipe. It’s called Chicken Diavolo. It’s actually a recipe my wife got from food and wine. And it’s really our favorite recipe uses chicken thighs. And the marinate that you put the chicken thighs in is wonderful.
Ren’ee Rentmeester ** 50:26
Sounds good. And it’s just, Michael.
Michael Hingson ** 50:29
And it’s, it’s, it’s got a, it’s, it’s, well, it uses a fair amount of oil, but they’re not really oily by the time you’re done. But it’s a wonderful recipe to do. But just the preparation or doing it and then putting it on the grill is in two different locations. And that’s what really prompted me to ask the question, when I’m sure that we could figure out it would be fun to to do it. It’s been a while since I’ve done chicken D. But
Ren’ee Rentmeester ** 50:55
I would love to have you on that one that will be great. Because we don’t have anything like that, I would have to see you do part of it, like part of it would be done ahead of time. Because that’s really like a lot of TV shows the cooking, a lot of things are done partially ahead of time. And then do you have like some sort of a table alongside of you or?
Michael Hingson ** 51:22
Well, when I do the grilling, everything else is done. And then I take it out and there’s there’s a table on the grill. But it wouldn’t be fun to to think about doing it. The preparation is really creating the marinade. Because then the chicken thighs go into the marinate and then they go on to the grill. So it would be it would be something to explore. And yeah, we’d love the idea would the idea would be that you create marinate, put the chicken in it, then let them marinate a while. And so that could be done inside and then just move the camera and everything outside. It might be fun to think about.
Ren’ee Rentmeester ** 52:00
Well, you could you could just you could have, are there like lots of ingredients for the marinade.
Michael Hingson ** 52:08
Not too many.
Ren’ee Rentmeester ** 52:10
But take those ingredients outside. You can have the chicken in the marinade already done, right?
Michael Hingson ** 52:16
Yeah, you can just take the ingredients outside that would go into the marinate and, and create a little bit of it. Yeah, that’s another way to do it. Which also means when you do that, you get a second batch, which is also good. So that’s fine.
Ren’ee Rentmeester ** 52:29
Right? You can never have too much grilled chicken. That’s fine. No.
Michael Hingson ** 52:33
And and if unlike anything else, if done, right? They come out pretty moist. You don’t want to overcook them. It is chicken thighs so that the marinate does get absorbed a lot better into the thighs than it would into like chicken breasts and so on, which is why thighs are used. But it’s a it’s a great recipe.
Ren’ee Rentmeester ** 52:52
Oh, that sounds good. Well, what’s in it?
Michael Hingson ** 52:55
There’s rosemary, there is oil. I’m trying to remember some of the the other spices are. Well, there’s peppermint
Ren’ee Rentmeester ** 53:02
Michael Hingson ** 53:03
Yeah, there’s pepper. And I have to go back and find the recipe. It’s been a while. My wife was ill last year and passed away in November. So frankly, I haven’t made it for a while. So I’m going to have to do that. I’ve been lazy, but that’s okay.
Ren’ee Rentmeester ** 53:19
Well give you a reason to make it. I’m sorry to hear about your wife, Michael.
Michael Hingson ** 53:23
Well, it’s okay. We, we we continue to move forward. And and she’s around watching. So it’s okay. So I will do it right. Otherwise, I’ll be in trouble. So it’s no problem. Well, so what are your future plans for the show? You are? I know you said you’re restarting it and so on. So kind of what are the plans? What do you expect to see happen?
Ren’ee Rentmeester ** 53:46
Well, I would like to get some sponsors. I would like to go to more events, the season in California, I’d like to go there, you know, bring my troops. So I’d like to be more on the ground with people. And I would like to find a resting place for us on a streaming service.
Michael Hingson ** 54:13
Well, I still think of Bobby Flay and Food Network as far as a place to go. I don’t know Bobby, and then and all that, but I’ve watched him and just he’s clearly an innovative visionary guy. And I would think if anybody would be intrigued it would be would be He. So something to think about.
Ren’ee Rentmeester ** 54:34
Well, I don’t think I just do so um, this this week, I’ll get a note off the bobby off the research how to get a hold of him. And um, you know, Rachael Ray knows him and the thing with her is Rachel has a her mother has macular degeneration, so I thought there will be a special in with her as well. Have you? Go ahead? No, no go up.
Michael Hingson ** 55:03
Have you ever had the opportunity to interview Christine? Ha, who won the Mastership?
Ren’ee Rentmeester ** 55:10
I did. And she’s on our, our Facebook. I’m sorry, our Facebook, our YouTube channel. She’s on her podcast. Oh, cool. Yeah. What did you want to know about Christine?
Michael Hingson ** 55:24
Well, no, I was just wondering if you had I mean, I’ve met Christine. But again, that might be a way to, to get some context, but I just was curious if you’d met her and had her on because she’d be a natural, that would be a good person to be on the show.
Ren’ee Rentmeester ** 55:41
Yeah, she, she wanted to be on the podcast. So she was on the podcast, it’s quite interesting with her. She, they thought she had they, they thought she had multiple sclerosis at first. And then it went into blindness. And, you know, some of the medications she was taking, wasn’t working, weren’t working. And but, um, you can always, as I said, go to our YouTube channel. And she’s there
Michael Hingson ** 56:10
to tell us if people want to watch the show exactly. Where do they go? Do you have a web address that you can give? Or do you have a website they can go to and we start from
Ren’ee Rentmeester ** 56:19
the website, the main place they can go is a Cooking Without Looking YouTube channel, go to YouTube, and then type in cooking without looking. We have a website, which is w w w . cooking without looking TV, .wordpress.com. And if that’s a lot for you to remember what it is for me. You can always just Google cooking without looking TV show on or bring it to our, to our web.
Michael Hingson ** 56:52
Great. Well, and I assume that if anyone wants to reach out to you, they can go to your website and and make contact with you there.
Ren’ee Rentmeester ** 57:01
Yes, or, you know, we also have a Facebook page and cooking with the cooking without looking TV show Facebook page, and I can email me there.
Michael Hingson ** 57:13
And what is it called?
Ren’ee Rentmeester ** 57:15
What was that?
Michael Hingson ** 57:16
What is the Facebook page called? Specifically?
Ren’ee Rentmeester ** 57:18
The cooking without looking TV show. Okay, cool.
Michael Hingson ** 57:23
Well, I want to thank you for being on unstoppable mindset today. This has been fun. We’ve done some good cooking talk here. And a body is now getting hungry.
Ren’ee Rentmeester ** 57:36
Well, Michael, thank you. I’m so grateful for you to invite me over and and talk to you. I’m really humbled by you asking me so thank you so much.
Michael Hingson ** 57:46
Well, it’s been an honor. And I really appreciate it. And I hope you listening out there enjoyed this as well go check out cooking without looking in all sorts of places from YouTube, to Facebook and everywhere in between, and go to the website. Reach out to Ren’ee. And we, we will I’m sure be hearing more from her as the show progresses. And hopefully we’ve given her and you some things to think about. Blindness isn’t the problem. It’s our attitude, that is really the issue that we have to address. So really appreciate Ren’ee again, you being here. And again, for all of you listening, we’d love to get your feedback and your comments. We would appreciate you giving us a five star rating wherever you’re listening to our podcast. And if you’d like to reach out to me feel free to do so at Michaelhi at accessiBe A C C E S S I B E.com. Or go to our website. www dot Michael hingson m i c h a e l h i n g s o n.com/podcast. And we’d love to have you rate us there and listen to all of the podcasts that are there. You can binge listen and spend a whole lot of time at it now. So we what we really appreciate you listening to us and all the wonderful comments that you’ve gotten. And again, Ren’ee, one last time, thank you very much for being here with us today.
Ren’ee Rentmeester ** 59:14
Thank you, Michael. Thank you.
Michael Hingson ** 59:21
You have been listening to the Unstoppable Mindset podcast. Thanks for dropping by. I hope that you’ll join us again next week, and in future weeks for upcoming episodes. To subscribe to our podcast and to learn about upcoming episodes, please visit www dot Michael hingson.com slash podcast. Michael Hingson is spelled m i c h a e l h i n g s o n. While you’re on the site., please use the form there to recommend people who we ought to interview in upcoming editions of the show. And also, we ask you and urge you to invite your friends to join us in the future. If you know of any one or any organization needing a speaker for an event, please email me at speaker at Michael hingson.com. I appreciate it very much. To learn more about the concept of blinded by fear, please visit www dot Michael hingson.com forward slash blinded by fear and while you’re there, feel free to pick up a copy of my free eBook entitled blinded by fear. The unstoppable mindset podcast is provided by access cast an initiative of accessiBe and is sponsored by accessiBe. Please visit www.accessibe.com. accessiBe is spelled a c c e s s i b e. There you can learn all about how you can make your website inclusive for all persons with disabilities and how you can help make the internet fully inclusive by 2025. Thanks again for listening. Please come back and visit us again next week.