Parveen Shankar thought his dream of becoming a chef was over when he lost his sight after a car crash in 2004.
"I was a fully sighted guy before, and after I lost my sight I felt my life and all my dreams ended," said the former hydraulics welder.
"One of the things I enjoy most was home cooking and baking and always dreamt of becoming a chef, but after the accident, I thought it was just an impossible dream."
Fast forward 15 years, not only does Shankar, 38, have a career in hospitality, he has been roped in by the Cookie Project in a pilot programme to train other aspiring bakers who have lost their sight.
The Cookie Project is a business started in June last year by two Auckland men Graeme Haddon and Eric Chuah that employs special needs workers at its kitchen.
"When I got blind I told my mum 'my life is finished'," said Shankar, originally from Fiji.
"But since 2005 when I got connected and help from the Blind Foundation to be independent, I went back to my mum and said, 'My life isn't finished, it begins here', and I never looked back."
He got a break into the hospitality industry as a blind guide waiter at Dans Le Noir when the "dining in the dark" business opened at the Rydges Hotel in 2017.
Shankar's responsibility was to guide and serve guests in complete darkness.
He was taken to Melbourne last year by Dans Le Noir to help set up the kitchen, interview and train staff for a new dining in the dark restaurant there.
Last Thursday, Shankar had his first experience with baking at the Cookie Project kitchen in Newton.
His new role is to ensure that the kitchen is "blind-friendly" and train new recruits.
"We will be able to do everything independently, but it must be ensured that no one moves anything because we have to know exactly where everything is," Shankar said.
"I am honoured to be part of this project where I can be a living example to show that we can all live the life we love, even if we have a major disability like blindness."
Chuah said the Cookie Project was working in partnership with the Blind Foundation's Accessibility Tick programme which helps organisations and businesses become more accessible and inclusive of people with disabilities.
Since the project's start, it has employed 19 special needs workers and there's about 20 on the waiting list.
"Parveen is a success story and an absolute inspiration to others," Chuah said.
"We never thought it was possible to include blind people in our project until we went to Dans Le Noir and met Parveen."
Chuah said the Cookie Project had a "pan disability policy" where anyone with any type of disability can apply to work, and requires no formal assessment process.
He said 10 to 15 blind aspiring bakers will be recruited for the pilot project that Shankar will lead.
Accessibility Tick programme leader Tanya Colvin said Shankar will be playing an important role in imparting important life skills to other disabled people.
"Parveen is an expert in what he needs, we will let him show us how we can set this up to make it work for him and other people with blindness and no vision,"
"We have bigger plans...our ultimate aim is for them to pick up and learn valuable skills that will help them find jobs outside of the project in future."
With Chinese New Year just days away, the bakers are hard at work baking pig-shaped cookies and special edition matcha flavoured ones.