IRVINE, Calif. — When Chase Bailey was diagnosed with autism at 2, his mother feared he’d never enjoy a typical childhood. Indeed, he hasn’t. Between appearances with celebrities and hosting his own cooking show, Bailey’s life feels anything but typical.
During the past two years, the 13-year-old has spiced up ramen noodles with Korean-American street food guru Roy Choi, simmered butternut squash soup with Sting’s daughter, Fuschia Sumner, and baked hundreds of bright blue frosted cookies for guests at an Autism Speaks gala in Los Angeles where he was introduced by Conan O’Brien.
The days when Bailey would eat nothing but pizza, chicken, french fries, chocolate chip cookies, and chips with dip almost seem like a faint memory.
“He wasn’t even eating food until he was 8 years old,” said Nick Shipp, executive chef at The Upper West, the Santa Monica, Calif., restaurant where Bailey helps cook dinner once a week. “For him to go from that to cooking and eating all kinds of different things, it’s pretty remarkable.”
After her son’s diagnosis, friends and acquaintances prepared Mary Bailey for the worst. He’d never be able to have a job, some said. He’d probably never learn to socialize. And he’d never be independent.