D’Souza cooks up autism awareness in Masterchef’s TV kitchen

Kitchen challenge: Vanessa D’Souza, from Croydon, appears on Masterchef tonight

An autistic chef from South Croydon is set to make an appearance on BBC1’s MasterChef – just as Autism Awareness Month gets underway.

Vanessa D’Souza, who works as an anti-piracy manager, appears in tonight’s first episode of the latest series of the popular cooking competition, which airs at 8pm (it’ll be available on BBC iPlayer as well). This is the 19th series of the challenge for amateur cooks.

D’Souza was diagnosed with autism last year, and openly discusses it on the programme.

Masterchef co-host Gregg Wallace recently announced he was stepping down from other presenting work to spend more time helping with his three-year-old son, Syd, who is autistic.

Time out: Gregg Wallace with son Syd

D’Souza says that her diagnosis was a real game-changer in helping her understand herself.

She had always found that the kitchen was her comfort zone, a place where she could express herself by creating food pairings with sensory elements and experimenting with alternative presentations.

The diagnosis led D’Souza to pursue her love of cooking and enter the TV competition.

“I’m just a simple girl from Croydon trying to make my food dream a reality,” she told Inside Croydon.

“I like to cook and create foods that I love, and from this produce recipes which cater to both neurodiverse and neurotypical people alike.

“I am hoping that appearing during Autism Awareness Month will give a greater understanding of autism for the benefit of others.”

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News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email inside.croydon@btinternet.com
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