Sensory Delight Tasting Menu

The Autistic Chef’s Sensory Plantain Shrimp Bites – A Multi-Textured Delight

These Plantain Shrimp Bites are designed to provide a delightful sensory experience for sensory seekers.

Crunchy Texture: The crispy fried plantain slices and lightly coated coconut shrimp offer a satisfying crunch that appeals to tactile sensations.

Variety of Textures: Each bite combines the crunchiness of the plantains and coconut shrimp with the juicy freshness of the mango salsa, creating a harmonious blend of textures.

Sweet and Savory Flavours: The naturally sweet plantains, savory coconut-coated shrimp, and tangy mango salsa provide a balanced flavor profile that caters to different taste preferences.

Visual Appeal: The vibrant colors of the mango salsa and garnishes enhance the visual appeal of the dish, making it inviting and enjoyable.

The Autistic Chef’s Sensory Delight Muffins – Sweet, Savory, and Umami

Vanessa D’Souza

Vanessa D’Souza

The Autistic Chef

Vanessa D’Souza, celebrated as “The Autistic Chef,” has carved a unique space for herself at the intersection of culinary excellence and autism advocacy. Her involvement in “An Evening with Ezra” highlights her incredible talent for taste and underscores her role as a pioneering leader who navigates the complexities as a late diagnosed autistic female. Vanessa’s innovative menu for the event is not just a showcase of her culinary skills but also a testament to her journey from experiencing food as a source of extreme aversion to becoming an acclaimed chef. In her early years, food was fraught with challenges, often being told that her sensory differences and aversions meant she was ‘broken.’ Vanessa turned these painful experiences into a source of strength, using her unique perspective on taste and texture to innovate in the kitchen and challenge traditional culinary norms.

Her remarkable journey in the culinary world reached a pinnacle when she became a finalist and fan favorite on “Master Chef UK,” where her dishes not only wowed the judges but also captivated the audience with her story and advocacy for autism. Vanessa’s openness about her sensory differences and her relationship with food resonates with many, offering hope and inspiration to those navigating similar paths. Her success on a platform as prominent as “Master Chef UK” shattered stereotypes about autism, demonstrating the extraordinary potential of autistic individuals when their talents are nurtured and celebrated.

Vanessa D’Souza’s involvement in “An Evening with Ezra” is a marker of her unwavering commitment to challenging the narrative around autism. By sharing her story and her culinary creations, Vanessa illuminates the rich, multifaceted experiences of autistic individuals, especially women who are often diagnosed late. Her work transcends the boundaries of the culinary arts, positioning her as a vital voice in the conversation about autism, inclusivity, and empowerment. Through her dishes and her advocacy, Vanessa continues to redefine perceptions of autism, proving that differences in processing the world can lead to unparalleled creativity and innovation.



Culinary Artist

Rono is a dynamic researcher and entrepreneur whose work elegantly bridges the worlds of science and gastronomy. Rono is an avid entrepreneur and culinary artist, drawing parallels between the systematic methodologies of science and the creative expressions of culinary arts. She has integrated her sentimental love for making traditional Chinese dumplings into a broader dialogue about cultural and neurodiverse inclusivity. Hailing from China, her journey to the United states started with academic pursuits and culminated into a deep personal exploration, during which she discovered her own autistic identity and turned it into a source of strength. Rono’s dumplings have now found a platform at ‘An Evening with Ezra” where each small bite is a larger message of her values.

Rono is forging a unique path that highlights the intersection of seemingly disparate fields, demonstrating the uniqueness of career roadmaps for neurodiverse individuals, and importance of support to those navigating the complexities of multiple identities, thereby enhancing human understanding and driving societal progress. Her journey is ongoing, fueled by her own personal strength; she is an advocate for neurodiversity and promotes an understanding that diverse neurological conditions contribute uniquely to human culture and success.

Food Joy Catering

Food Joy Catering

Food Joy Catering, a full-service chef and catering team, has graciously committed to partnering with Love & Autism for “An Evening with Ezra,” demonstrating a deep commitment to the event’s success and its values. However, their role extends beyond traditional food service. For this event, Food Joy Catering is taking an exceptional step by executing the carefully curated menu of The Autistic Chef, Vanessa D’Souza. This collaboration is a powerful example of their adaptability and respect for neurodivergent individuals, as they bring Vanessa’s unique culinary vision to life for the event’s attendees.

This partnership showcases Food Joy Catering’s understanding and commitment to creating a neurodivergent-affirming environment. By accurately representing Vanessa’s menu, they not only honor her as a chef but also promote the broader message of inclusivity and recognition of neurodivergent talents in professional settings. Food Joy Catering’s efforts to align closely with Vanessa’s creative vision underscore their broader commitment to diversity and inclusivity within the culinary world.

Beyond this event, Food Joy Catering has a rich history of providing exceptional catering services for a variety of events, ranging from corporate gatherings to private celebrations. Their reputation for quality, flexibility, and impeccable service has made them a preferred choice in the catering industry. Their participation in “An Evening with Ezra” is not just a service provision but a significant contribution to the event’s mission, reinforcing their role as more than just caterers but as partners in promoting positive social change. 

Tara & Her Boys

Tara & Her Boys

L&A Allies

Tara and the boys live in San Diego, Ca with their dog, bird and gecko. Together they enjoy spending time at the beach, in the ocean, hiking, cooking, gardening, visiting museums, attending musical theater and traveling.

Tara Mullen and her sons—Quincy (15), Luca (14), and Beau (9)—redefine what it means to be neurodivergent family system. This bold and beautiful family exemplifies what it means to be authentic and autistic, embracing their identities with an unwavering commitment to change stigmatization of autistic people.

This year, at “An Evening with Ezra,” Tara and her boys are excited to contribute to the event by preparing the dessert for all guests, promising a sweet treat that reflects their creativity and passion. Their involvement is a testament to their active participation in the community and their commitment to sharing their talents.
Quincy, the eldest, is not only a talented performer but also a social justice warrior. He has previously contributed to the Love & Autism conference by performing “This is Me” from The Greatest Showman, captivating attendees with his powerful voice and presence. His interests in world-building allow him to create and explore diverse universes, showcasing his imaginative and artistic talents. Luca is a gifted neurodivergent musician. He shreds on his guitar, lead vocals of his local music group. He enriched the cultural tapestry of the community. Beau, the youngest, has grown up in a neurodivergent-affirming environment, free from unintentional ableist messages about being autistic. He understands his self-worth and exemplifies the power of living authentically. Beau’s interests and activities include electronic music, ADD contribute to showing the world the potential when one is allowed to be fully oneself.

Together, Tara, Quincy, Luca, and Beau represent a dynamic force within the autism community, continually pushing for greater acceptance and understanding. Their contributions to both the “Evening with Ezra” and the broader community highlight the profound impact of embracing and celebrating neurodiversity.

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