'Master Chef' First Blind Contestant, Christine Ha, Talks Inspiring Others
Christine Ha, 33, the Vietnamese-American Master Chef contestant who even warmed judge Gordon Ramsay's heart with her story of being diagnosed with a central nervous system condition, neuromyelitis optica, which has caused her to slowly go blind but never diminished her devotion to becoming a "master chef," is now reaching a broader audience as Ha takes out the competition on this season of Master Chef.
"I have gotten a lot of amazing letters from people, messages — just an outpouring of love and support," Ha told People about the inspiration viewers are deriving from Ha's touching story. "There are a lot of people with vision impairment, people who have spinal injuries, people who had to deal with the death of loved ones that are now applying to grad school, applying to culinary school, changing their vocations."
Ha's vision has been deteriorating since 1999. "It only happened in one eye then," she explained. "It didn't recover completely so I learned to adjust to seeing out of one eye. In 2004, it decreased to the level where I could no longer drive. In 2007, it decreased to where I am now. I have to use a cane to walk around or take somebody's arm and be guided."
Some would think that such a condition would make cooking unparallelled savory meals almost impossible, but Ha relies on her other senses. "I have to figure out by smell or touch if an ingredient is fresh." And she has to be extra careful in the kitchen, too. "Cutting with knives — fortunately, I'm pretty careful and I have a proper knife technique."
Master Chef has just been renewed for a fourth season. Watch how Ha fares on Tusday night at 9:00 p.m. on FOX.
Watch Ha's apple pie triumph here: