Who says disability hinders one from doing what one loves to do?
One woman in Vietnam has proven just the opposite.
The first blind cook to compete on Fox’s “MasterChef,” 33-year-old Christine Ha is a Master of Fine Arts candidate in fiction/creative nonfiction in the Creative Writing Program at the University of Houston.
Ha didn’t undergo any formal study in cooking, admitting on her blog that “[her mother] was a wonderful cook,” and that she “grew up in the kitchen, tiptoeing over the stove, watching [her mother] simmer and taste the broth.”
Early on, she didn’t show that much interest in cooking, relating that she “didn’t even know how to steam rice in an automatic rice cooker.” When she later moved into a dorm without easy access to food, she had to learn how to cook. From there, Ha realized she also loves to cook for others.
Memories of her mother, who died when Christine was 14, prodded her to foster an interest in cooking. Christine fondly recalls her mother’s earlier days in the kitchen, sharing that “she was a culinary inspiration.” Christine adds: “I liked to help peel the egg roll skin apart, but I wasn’t that interested in cooking when I was a kid. She didn’t really get a chance to teach me anything. I’ve spent years recreating the memories from taste.”
Ha suffers from neuromyelitis optica (NMO), an autoimmune disorder that affects the optic nerves and spinal chord. She lost sight in one eye in 1999 and was completely blind by 2007.
When cooking, Ha allows her heightened sense of smell and taste to compensate for her lack of vision. On MasterChef, Ha is allowed by the producers to cook with an assistant, who guides her around the unfamiliar kitchen and helps her collect ingredients. Other than that, Ha has to follow the same rules as her rivals.
Despite her disability, Christine continues her passion as a cook and hopes to win Fox’s MasterChef.