A True Masterchef
In 1999, Christina Ha was diagnosed with neuromyelitis optica (NMO) which is a condition of the central nervous system affecting the optic nerves and spinal cord. In 2004, her vision decreased to the point where she could no longer drive. By 2007, she had lost her vision and must walk with a cane or be guided. In 2012, she landed a spot in the coveted top 18 on Fox’s Masterchef, becoming the show’s first blind contestant. With the help of an assistant who carries her dishes to the judges, gathers ingredients she requests from the pantry, and assists her in walking from point A to B, Christine has proven herself to be a serious contender on the show and someone her competitors should both fear and respect.
The judges on Masterchef (Gordon Ramsay, Joe Bastianich, and Graham Elliot) have been quite taken with Christine’s ability, but offer her no special treatment. As Christine says, they “didn’t treat me any differently. They told me what was wrong and right with my dish. There was constructive criticism. I feel like they judged fairly.” Her amazing palate earned her great praise and won her the challenge on Tuesday night’s episode, where despite a sabotage attempt by one of her competitors by giving her a live crab to work with rather than canned, she created a delicious dish that had Gordon questioning if she was indeed blind. All her dishes are created by her using taste and touch, resulting in delicious results, but I am amazed and astounded at her ability to plate beautifully; her dishes have consistently looked as if they belong within the pages of a gourmet food magazine.
Christine not only impressed by winning the crab challenge on Tuesday, but impressed Monday night in the first pressure test of the season. After losing a group challenge (where she was picked dead last for her team) she and the rest of the blue team were faced with a pressure test where they would have to cook a perfect apple pie. Frank, the group’s leader, was allowed to give immunity to one team member, but passed on giving it to Christine and offered it to three other teammates, two of which refused the offer. Baking, being a visual task, seemed to be daunting for Christine, who had to stop midway into the pressure test to be bandaged after cutting herself while slicing apples. Relying on her aide to tell her the color of the pie crust as it baked, Christine seemed close to falling apart and was certain this failed apple pie she would present would be her ticket home. Upon presenting it to Ramsay, Christine declared her pie to be “a pile of rubbish” in appearance. On the contrary, Ramsay declared it to be stunning and the taste to be amazing.
Season two of Masterchef introduced me to the wonder that is Ben Starr. He is a gem, to say the least. Ben is one of the sweetest people to ever grace reality television; his heart is astoundingly huge and his Masterchef blog made me see some of season two’s “villains” as genuinely nice people. Going into season three, I didn’t expect to find anyone who would get under my skin in such a great way as Ben did, but when I saw Christine I immediately fell in love with her. It’s rare to find such warm souls in the cutthroat world that is reality television, and Christine is definitely the breath of fresh air that it so needs.
Christine is truly a stunning woman. To watch her in the kitchen is to watch a masterpiece unfold in front of you. At times she may doubt herself and her abilities, and at times others may doubt her as well, but in the end she emerges from every challenge shining like a star. Her talent in the kitchen is unmistakable and undeniable; the loss of her vision was devastating but resulted in giving her the gift of culinary brilliance. I hope that with Masterchef, Christine is able to find success and is able to continue to inspire others. As of this point in the competition, I feel secure in saying that she deserves to win. Regardless of what happens at the end, Christine has definitely already won a spot in many of our hearts.