Christine Ha is the winner of FOX’s hit home cooking competition, MasterChef. In January, CVI was honored to have her as the guest speaker for the annual Henderson Dinner. She is a graduate student from Houston, Texas and the series’ first-ever blind contestant.
Nearly 30,000 hopefuls auditions for the show which features cooking competitions judged by world-renowned Chef's Gordon Ramsay, Joe Bastianich and Graham Elliot. In addition to earning the MasterChef title, Christine walked away with a cookbook deal and the $250,000 grand prize.
Before January of this year, the only ideas I’d had of Atlanta were these:
It is home to CNN and Coca-Cola;
It was home to Ludacris;
It is home to the Falcons, Hawks, and Braves; and
It had crazy weather and crazy airports.
And then I came to Atlanta and learned it was so much more.
Last summer, when "MasterChef" was still airing, I was contacted by the Center for the Visually Impaired to give the keynote address at the annual Henderson Society dinner. I got the email from Lauren Lindenbaum months before it would be revealed to the world that I was the new MasterChef, and so I knew that she, along with the rest of the CVI, had no idea how crazy my life was about to become. I accepted, figuring it would be one of the few opportunities I would have to make use of my gifts to help others.
I flew to Atlanta in January, and after a surprisingly pleasant experience at Hartsfield-Jackson Airport, I dove right into the work I was there to do: a cooking demo and Q&A at a VIP reception hosted by the Viking school, a brief talk with parents from the BEGIN program followed by a Q&A with the CVI’s adult clients, and then the Henderson Society dinner. After it was all said and done, I learned a few cool things during my visit to the CVI and Atlanta:
Children with little canes are the most precious things I’ve ever had the privilege to encounter and hear; Georgia, like my home state of Texas, knows southern hospitality;
The food scene is awesome in Atlanta—I got to enjoy Empire State South and The Spence.
The CVI is a wonderful facility for those living with or affected by someone living with a visual impairment.
From supporters to staff to clients to parents of little clients, I met a slew of fascinating people. I’m happy to say Atlanta had exceeded my expectations, and I look forward to returning soon—hopefully when peaches are in season.
Since January, I’ve been quite the busy gal. My cookbook, Recipes from My Home Kitchen: Asian and American Comfort Food from the Winner of MasterChef Season 3 on FOX, releases May 14. And I also successfully defended my thesis and will be graduating this month with a Master of Fine Arts from University of Houston’s Creative Writing Program. My thesis was my memoir that braids together the tales of my Neuromyelitis Optica (NMO) and vision loss with the year my mother had cancer. So what’s next for me on the horizon? I hope to publish the memoir and open a dining establishment or two. To keep track of my goings on, visit my blog, my Facebook page, or follow me on my Twitter handles: @ChristineHHa and @theblindcook. Until next time, be well, and eat well.