'Stump Kitchen' star Alexis Hillyard bringing one-handed cooking skills, life advice to Woman's Show
'This show and cooking have made me fall in love with my stump even more and the uniqueness of what I’m able to do'
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Cooking is a way of life for Stump Kitchen creator Alexis Hillyard.
The Edmonton woman’s popular YouTube cooking show has not only become her job, but also a form of therapy.
Hillyard, who was born with one hand and pokes fun at her limb difference while using her "stump" to prepare food in unique ways, started making the show after she was diagnosed with major depressive disorder two years ago.
“This has been a really cool mental health tool for being in my body – slowing me down, filling myself with really nutritious food,” Hillyard said, comparing it to the benefits some people get from meditation or yoga.
“I’ve always loved my stump and I’ve always loved my body. That can definitely fluctuate, but this show and cooking have made me fall in love with my stump even more and the uniqueness of what I’m able to do.”
Hillyard will do cooking demos and talk about her life during the Edmonton Woman’s Show at the Expo Centre Saturday and Sunday afternoon.
Her love of cooking initially came from a need to work around her dietary restrictions.
Hillyard was diagnosed with a gluten intolerance seven years ago, and two years ago she became vegan.
“That really forced me into the kitchen to make myself good meals."
After a few months, her YouTube series caught on to the point where she had enough supporters on crowd-funding website Patreon to make it her primary source of income.
She hopes to inspire others with “funny” or restrictive diets, as well as people with limb differences.
Hillyard volunteers with the Lucky Fin Project to raise awareness and support people born with limb difference, and she sometimes features kids with disabilities on her show.
“I love challenging assumptions, I love creating space for what’s possible,” she said.
“The more representation we have of folks with disabilities, people of colour, people with limb difference in the media, the more people will see themselves reflected back in things like YouTube and media, the more possibilities open up for them."
Local filmmaker Andrea Beca was awarded a $10,000 Storyhive grant Wednesday to shoot a pilot for a documentary web series called Stump Kitchen: Cooking for the Heart, which will follow Hillyard as she visits professional chefs in local restaurants for conversations and cooking sessions.