Christine Hà (born Christine Huyentran Hà)
Chef + Writer + TV Host
Interview: with Defining Cultures
The daughter of Vietnamese parents, Christine Hà is a true inspiration for anyone that has ever uttered “Why me?” From losing her mother to lung cancer at the age of 14, to losing her vision by the age of 28, Christine is definitely an inspiration for go-getters and aspiring chefs!
Christine first started cooking when she moved to her first apartment during undergrad – she bought a Vietnamese cookbook in hopes of recreating dishes that her mom used to cook for her. The smell and taste of these dishes would not only bring memories of her mom’s food, but prepare her for a future cooking career.
Christine attended the University of Texas and graduated in 2001 with a bachelor’s in business administration. She would go on to become a software consultant in the oil and energy industry, and then segued into a creative writing degree after she was diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder called nueromyelitis optica (NMO) in 2003. By 2007, although Christine’s vision was basically diminished, she was determined to have a career that was much more fulfilling and effective. So she went on to study creative writing at University of Houston’s Creative Writing program in 2008, which influenced her to start writing about food on a blog she named The Blind Cook. With sheer determination to never quit, combined with an attitude that welcomed change, Christine decided to try out for season 3 of MasterChef U.S. and made the cut to become one of the 18 contestants in 2012. During this time, she put her master’s thesis on hold in order to compete on the show. 20 episodes later, Christine grabbed the MasterChef title and a cookbook deal – making her the first ever blind contestant and winner of the extremely popular TV show!
Since 2013, Christine’s life has turned into a positive whirlwind. She released her cookbook, Recipes From My Home Kitchen: Asian and American Comfort Food, completed her master of fine arts degree at University of Houston, and became a co-host on the Canadian TV show Four Senses. She also continues to serve in judging capacities on various cooking shows around the world, including: MasterChef Vietnam and MasterChef U.S. (seasons 4 and 6),
Christine’s journey is definitely one for the books, and reminds us that even when we encounter obstacles, we must never give up.
Interesting fact: after her diagnosis, Christine began to use adaptive cooking aids for the vision impaired (i.e. talking thermometers, talking scales, etc.) to start cooking again.