During Kitty Storey’s independent living skills class at Longfellow Middle School in Wauwatosa, her teacher would take the class to a nearby grocery store to buy all of the ingredients needed for a specific recipe.
In the next class, they would make the recipe together.
When COVID-19 hit and in-person classes came to a halt, the teacher sent recipes to the students, weekly, to make at home, said Kim Storey, Kitty’s mom.
“We helped cook it and started filming it, so we could send the videos back to the teacher to prove she (Kitty) was actually doing the work,” Kim said.
Kim also started uploading the videos to Facebook.
“Some of them turned out pretty cute and my friends were like, ‘You need to start a YouTube channel,'” she said.
Four months later, “Cooking with Kitty” has about 30 YouTube videos, close to 300 subscribers, and in October, she’ll have her own doughnut at Cranky Al’s in Wauwatosa. Sales for that doughnut will benefit the Down Syndrome Association of Wisconsin.
Kitty, 13, of Wauwatosa was diagnosed with Down syndrome when she was 14 weeks gestation, and autism, about six months ago.
“She’s a miracle,” Kim said. “She’s one of the best things that’s ever happened to our family and our lives. To know her is to love her. She warms your heart and brings a smile to your face as soon as you look at her.”
‘Welcome to cooking with Kitty’
The family tries to film two or three “Cooking with Kitty” episodes a week. An episode gets released every Tuesday morning on her YouTube channel.
At the beginning of the show, Kitty says, “Hi, welcome to cooking with Kitty,” and announces what she’s going to make.
The episodes follow Kitty and her dad, Dan, working together, to make a recipe.
“He (Dan) is self taught,” Kim said. “He is incredible for what he can make. I don’t know how he does it. He creates masterpieces out of thin air.”
Kim films and edits the videos, using her Google Pixel 4 and editing software on her laptop.
“If you watch our videos early on, it was pretty bleak,” she laughed. “As we go on, we’ve gotten progressively better. Hopefully, as we continue, I’ll get better and better at it.”
When they stopped getting recipes from the school at the end of the spring semester, Kitty continued on with “new and interesting” recipes her parents found, and some of the family’s usual dinner dishes.
“Kitty eats just about anything,” Kim said. “So, we’re able to make quite a few exotic recipes.”
They’ve made everything from Moroccan chicken bowls to chicken biryani.
Some episodes feature guest stars. During Pride Month in June, Kitty’s uncles made a rainbow cake with her. In August, Kitty made dog treats with her older sister, Olivia, for her sister’s dog, Chewie. In September, Kitty made fancy grilled cheese with her best friend.
Most recently, Kitty filmed an episode with Joey Carioti, owner of Cranky Al’s, which will air Sept. 29.
A couple months ago, as Carioti was scrolling through Facebook, he came across “Cooking with Kitty.”
“She looks like she’s having a blast,” Carioti said.
He reached out to Kim about doing a doughnut making show at his shop with Kitty. On Sept. 23, they made it happen.
Before Kitty arrived, Carioti pre-measured all of the ingredients. Then, he worked with Kitty to make glaze, icing and cake doughnuts. After frying and finishing the doughnuts, they tasted them.
“Kitty is amazing,” Carioti said. “She’s a little pistol. She’s a ball of energy. She messes around with ya. It was really great. I just really enjoyed it. I think she showed me a thing or two.”
“She loved it,” Kim said. “Her favorite part was eating them at the end. That’s always her favorite part of filming.”
The “Milk and Honey,” also known as “The Kitty Special,” is an old-fashioned cake-style doughnut with Highland Honey, which is made by a Wauwatosa boy and his dad, yellow glaze and blue drizzle. Blue and yellow are Down syndrome awareness colors.
Kitty’s doughnut will be available online at crankyals.com and at the shop, 6901 W. North Ave., Wauwatosa, from Oct. 1-31. Each doughnut costs $2.25.
Proceeds will go to the Down Syndrome Association of Wisconsin, an organization that is important to the Storey family.
Down Syndrome Association of Wisconsin
“When I found out Kitty had Down syndrome and we started telling friends and family, everybody says, ‘Oh, I’m so sorry,’ like it’s something bad and not to be celebrated,” Kim said.
When she called the Down Syndrome Association of Wisconsin for the first time while she was pregnant, the person who answered the phone said, “Congratulations, that’s such great news. Welcome to our family.”
“That was so important to me,” Kim said. “That was the first time someone treated my pregnancy like a joyous occasion.”
Since being introduced to DSAW, the Storeys have helped raise between $20,000 and $30,000 for the organization, Kim said.
“We will forever support DSAW,” she said.