One-handed chef is thankful for being able to still cook

For one Rapid City man, there’s always something to be thankful for, and being able to cook is one of them.
82-year-old Joseph Luciano’s life changed forever 15-years-ago.
Published: Nov. 27, 2020 at 9:20 AM CST
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KOTA) - 82-year-old Joseph Luciano’s life changed forever 15-years-ago.

“My brain is continuously telling my left hand to contract,” Luciano stated.

At 67-years-old, Joe suffered a stroke - paralyzing his left hand. “Now I’ll show you my amazing one-handed can opener,” he said.

The Centers for Disease Control report nearly 11 percent of those disabled in South Dakota live with some sort of mobility loss.

With a newfound, unexpected disability, he focused on finding ways to adapt to his life. Moving forward as a professional pianist and keeping his skills sharp in the kitchen.

After his stroke more than a decade ago and living in multiple apartments with kitchens that didn’t accommodate his disability, Luciano became frustrated in the kitchen.

Demonstrating the height of regular countertop spaces in his wheelchair, Luciano said, “Can you imagine trying to work over here and cutting at this high? Look what happens to my shoulder.”

After practice, he found a counter space with wheels and an electric stovetop that made all the difference for him in the kitchen, and he’s implemented it in every kitchen he’s lived in since.

Just a few solutions Joe has out of many he’s ready to share for those living alone with the loss of mobility, just like him.

“That’s a space where you can put the banana,” Luciano said, demonstrating how to use a regular cutting board to peel fruit. “There are things that I’ve discovered that I want to share with other people who have a hand loss or hand disorder.”

His new goal is to write a book on cooking one-handed, in hopes of helping a few more people get back in the kitchen. “Nobody told me,” Luciano said.

You can find Joe’s Pasta e Fagioli recipe tried on Good Morning KOTA Territory here.

Pasta e Fagioli: From “Wheelchair Cooking”—A Cookbook for One-Handed Persons & Others with Hand Disabilities


a) 2 oz. Olive Oil

b) 2 oz. Cooking Oil (canola, corn, etc.)

c) 4 oz. sweet Italian Sausage, broken up, casing removed

d) 14 oz. Cento brand Crushed Tomatoes e) ½ cup Carrots, chopped f) ¾ cup Celery Leaves And Stems, chopped g) 12 oz. Vidalia Onion, chopped h) 2 medium Fresh Garlic Cloves, smashed & minced i) 6 large Fresh Garlic Cloves, whole & peeled j)

Thin-sliced Pepperoni (as much as you would like) k) 2-3 Tbsp Grated Italian Cheese (Romano, parmesan—your choice) l) 11/2 Cups Chopped Fresh Escarole or prairieland2 faux escarole (romaine or green leaf lettuce) m) 2 cups cooked mix3 of pasta (broken Fettuccini, broken Spaghetti, Mostaccioli, Tubettini, Farfalle)


1. Cook the pasta first and set aside to add later.

2. Then to the pot over LOW-MEDIUM HEAT add the cooking oil and the broken-up Italian sausage

3. When sausage is browned, add everything else (except the cooked pasta and cooking oil, which you already added.)

4. Bring to a boil; then immediately lower to simmer.

5. When carrots are cooked to your liking, add the cooked pasta.

6. mix. When everything is hot enough, serve!

To get in contact with Joe or learn more about his forthcoming book and website focused on cooking one-handed, you can email him at

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