Alexis Hillyard is Bringing Accessible Cooking to YouTube

by September 21, 2018
filed under Entertainment
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Alexis is the host of Stump Kitchen, a gluten free, vegan YouTube series that celebrates diverse bodies and ways of being in the world. Editor-in-Chief Amanda chatted with Alexis over email about working around obstacles, teaching the next generation and why she’s always smiling. 

You started cooking videos when you had to learn to make vegan, gluten free meals. How has finding different ways to do things been a theme in your life? 

Haha, well I guess this has been a theme in my life since birth! My mom said that when I was a baby I would hold my bottle with my feet, so I guess I’ve been doing things a bit differently my whole life. Most of the time it comes very naturally to me because I was born without my left hand and it’s all that I know, but sometimes I am presented with a task or new activity where I really have to take a good hard think about how I might do it… Usually these are smaller things than you like think, like how might I open a door that has a latch and a handle (one that requires two hands)? How do I gently make sure that I don’t get charged the full amount for manicures? How do I convince the driving teacher that I actually CAN drive a standard transmission safely? I recently got a new camera and I have LOVED finding the unique ways that I need to use and hold it. It’s like I have my own personal techniques that are exclusive to my body. And the thing I love most about finding different ways to do things is surprising people, and expanding other people’s notion of what’s possible with ‘just’ one hand.

Who have been some of your favorite guests on the series? 

Every single one of my guests has brought their own unique beauty and flare to the show. Looking back, I love how different they all are from each other, whether that’s because of their age, their limb difference, their sense of humour… it really keeps the show fresh and fun. I worked with Rosie the first time when she was two and a half years old, and I remember just really having to follow her lead – it was amazing, and it took the filming in such wonderful and unpredictable directions. I also really adore cooking with my family on camera. My mom was so cute, and my sister was so sassy! I honestly can’t pick a favourite, because everyone I’ve had on the show has been an incredible gift.

Stump Kitchen partners with CBC Kids. What do you love about teaching children?

Children have some of the most unique outlooks on life, I think in part because their imagination still plays an integral part in their daily lives. I love what they bring to the table, I love their willingness to play and try new things, and I love their curiosity. When I have kids on the show, I love having fun with them but also teaching them about food and ingredients and cooking techniques, in informal and accessible ways. I like how Stump Kitchen can be a vehicle for food literacy. I also love how teaching and learning is a two-way street with kids. If we are open to it, we can learn SO MUCH from these amazing tiny humans about playfulness, adventure and love!

“When I was a baby I would hold my bottle with my feet, so I guess I’ve been doing things a bit differently my whole life.”

You have such a kind, positive presence in your videos. Where does this attitude come from? 

Aw, thank you! My mother is an incredibly kind and compassionate woman. I don’t think I have ever known her to hate anyone! She also has a great love of animals, gardening and children. She’s never met a dog, flower or child that she didn’t get along with. So I think maybe I got some of my temperament from her. My younger sister also shares this compassion for others. She became a vegetarian when she was 13, and really became my role model and reason for going vegetarian myself when I was around 19. Both my sister and mom helped shape who I am today!

What kinds of episodes do you hope to produce in the future for Stump Kitchen?

Coming up I want to continue to expand my video repertoire to include more ‘limbs only’ videos. I have started a series where the camera captures close ups of my hand and stump preparing different fruit and vegetables like garlic and watermelon. I love the intimate feel of these videos, plus it lets people watch and learn more about limb difference in a close up but non-intrusive way. I also want to continue to grow the ‘Stump Chats’ series on my channel, where I interview other folks with limb difference about every day limb-difference stuff! These have proven to be super helpful and educational for many folks all around the world! If time permits, I’d love to do a vegan menu hacks series, where I visit restaurants and tell folks how they can ‘veganize’ their meals. I get that question a lot! But mainly, I want to continue to strengthen my craft as a videographer and editor and produce fun, high quality cooking videos with fun people!

How can people support your show?

The most accessible way for people to support my show is by subscribing to my YouTube Channel (it’s free, so why not!), watching my videos, and ‘liking’ and ‘commenting.’ This helps make my videos more viewable across YouTube. If people are able to support a bit deeper, they can become a Patron by signing up on my Patreon page! Patreon is a platform that allows fans to support the creator that they love on a monthly basis, for whatever amount they want and for whatever time frame they want. Right now Patreon support just over half of my living income, and my ultimate goal is to have my Stump Kitchen work fully supported! This way I won’t have to find other sources of income and I can dedicate my time to editing, development, and making my show even more accessible by adding things like ASL interpretation. You can become a patron at www.patreon.com/stumpkitchen.

Published in the Fall 2018 issue. Get it in digital or print here.


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