In her new Neflix special, Growing, Amy Schumer reveals something about her chef husband, Chris Fischer. After noticing small things like the fact that he didn’t reach down to help her once after a bad fall, and that he is incapable of telling a lie (which had us crying), they two decided to visit a doctor to see what was going on. Turns out, he’s on the Autism spectrum, and was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome.
The pregnant comic carefully takes us through his diagnosis, and says he’s since gained the proper tools to help navigate through his life and their marriage. But even while undiagnosed, he’s been a successful chef and cookbook author for his entire adulthood. As a kid, his father father taught him how to hunt, fish, and farm, and he now runs the family’s Beetlebung Farm on Martha’s Vineyard.
Star Chefs wrote this about him in 2014: “Upon returning to the Vineyard (and to 12 generations of family legacy), he cooked privately, gained confidence, threw greenhouse dinners, and came up with a vision for his food and future. Fischer leapt at the opportunity to join the Beach Plum Inn & Restaurant as executive chef and earned a 2014 StarChefs.com Coastal New England Rising Stars Award. He believes local ingredients shouldn’t give chefs a free pass, and complicated dishes can be a symptom of insecurity. His menu, written daily at 3pm, is a reflection of the island’s bounty, gathered conscientiously and composed gracefully.”
His cookbook, The Beetlebung Farm Cookbook, won the 2016 James Beard Award.
He’s undeniably a success.
Danny Raede, founder of Asperger's Experts, tells The Feast it’s no surprise that a detail-oriented job works for Fischer.
“Asperger's can be an extremely positive thing when it comes to focusing on tasks because people with Asperger's are known to have hyper focus, to the level that almost borders on obsessive. That means that it is very easy for us to get into a state of flow and achieve mastery in our area of expertise,” he says. “When that comes to specific tasks like cooking, that means we can be focused for hours on end, and (quite literally) eat, sleep and breathe the subject matter.”
According to one report on the benefits of high functioning Asperger’s Syndrome, many people on the spectrum are “intellectually gifted people.” “People with very high IQs often question the status quo, resist direction, have long attention spans, undergo periods of intense work and effort, and like to organize things even as children. Other people often perceive them as ‘different.’"
“An ASD person’s ability to focus on details and their inability to see the big picture means they can come up with solutions to problems others overlook. [They] are often willing to spend long hours in laboratories and in front of computer screens because they do not mind being alone. All this enables them to make tremendous contributions at work and school … Their deficits are actually assets, as they are unfettered by convention or manners.”
Hans Asperger, the German doctor who discovered the syndrome, spoke of the positives of being on the spectrum. He said: “For success in science or art, a dash of autism is essential. The essential ingredient may be an ability to turn away from the everyday world, from the simply practical and to rethink a subject with originality so as to create in new untrodden ways with all abilities channeled into the one specialty.”
Given Chef Fisher's success, his combination of traits — whether in spite of or because of his autism, or perhaps both — have apparently worked quite well for him in the kitchen.
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