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Cristine Ha

Fri, 09/13/2013 - 10:43 -- deepti.gahrotra

Christine Hà American chef and writer from Houston, Texas, is the first blind contestant of  MasterChef and the winner of its third season in 2012.

Christine, who lived in Lakewood and Long Beach as a young child before her family moved to Houston, said she had a normal childhood and was pursuing a fine arts graduate degree when she became ill in 2004. At first, doctors had no idea what was causing her symptoms, including strange bouts with paralysis. At one point, they thought she had M.S. She was finally diagnosed with neuromyelitis optica, an autoimmune disease that would ultimately rob her of her vision by 2007.

She received a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in Finance/MIS from University of Texas at Austin in 2001 and a Master of Fine Arts degree for creative fiction/nonfiction at University of Houston's Creative Writing Program in 2012. She recently received the editor's poetry prize from The ScissorTale Review and was a finalist in the 2010 Creative Nonfiction MFA Program-Off contest.

She also serves as Fiction Editor for Gulf Coast Journal and her work has appeared in Fire Point, The ScissorTale Review, and PANK Magazine among others.

While she has never studied cooking, she has a large following on her food blog. She tells "I have to depend a lot more on the other senses to cook – taste, smell, how certain ingredients feel", adding that cooking without sight just involves "a lot of organization".

On September 10, 2012, Christine Ha was pronounced the winner of the competition, taking away $250,000, the MasterChef title, the MasterChef trophy, and a cookbook deal. Her cook book, Recipes from My Home Kitchen: Asian and American Comfort Food, was released on May 14, 2013.

Christine does not want people to assume that she is always upbeat and positive -- characteristics that have come to define her astonishing run on "MasterChef." "I get depressed," she said. But she doesn't allow that dark cloud to take over her life, which, despite the lack of eyesight, is rich with friends and family and a loving, supporting husband. "I try hard to stay positive. Everything happens for a reason. It built my character to be strong. I've wallowed in self-pity before, but I know that it doesn't get you anywhere... You just have to pick yourself up and move on."

Still, she had something to prove when she decided to try out for "MasterChef," even though she doubted she'd actually make it. "I wanted to prove to America that you can really pursue your dreams if you set your heart and mind to it."

Source: Wikipedia and Los Angeles Times

Wednesday, May 9, 1979
United States

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