Vietnamese blind chef tastes her way through US cooking show

The sense of taste and smell have never been more vital to the TV cooking contest MasterChef, where a Vietnamese American is breaking ground as the first blind competitor.

Christine Ha, 33 and fromTexas, beat out thousands of contestants this month to nab a white apron on the hit TV show hosted by Gordon Ramsay.

“Wow,” Ramsay said as Ha made her way to the qualifying round, guided by her husband.

She might need a stick to walk, but Ha relied on herself alone to get through the competition.

While other chefs spot and grab the ingredients they need, Ha smelled and tasted them, all while introducing traditional Vietnamese dishes to the judges and viewers.

“Catfish is really tender and I didn’t want to pick it apart,” she said in explaining why she kept the bone in an entrée of catfish braised in a clay pot with caramel, coconut juice, garlic, and fish sauce, served with pickle vegetables and rice.

“I think it looks more appealing, and that’s just the way Vietnamese people eat.”

Even while feeling her way around knives and plates, Ha said her blindness would help her against rival chefs.

“Because I can’t see,” she said, “I won’t be worrying about what other people are doing.”

Known for their blunt critiques, the three judges warned Ha that her visual impairment would grant her no favors.

“Everybody has their story and things they have to overcome,” chef Graham Elliot said.

Ramsay added, “You put your challenge aside.”

He went on to call the catfish “the most delicious dish in the competition so far,” and joined the two other judges in a yes-vote to bring her onto the third season of Masterchef.

The last judge complimented Ha for bringing more than just culinary skills to the contest.

“Your face speaks values,” Joe Bastianich said.

“Your eyes are filled with happiness, pride, and passion, and you have a lot to be proud of.”

Ha said that about 10 years ago, she was diagnosed with neuromyelitis optica, a disorder in which one’s immune system attacks the optic nerves and spinal cord.

Now, much of her cooking comes from memory.

“I love foods, I loving eating it, I love creating it,” she said.

“I feel like regardless what your background, you gender, your religion is, food is something everybody has in common, and I think food is what connects people together.”

MasterChef is an American competitive cooking show open to amateur chefs.

It is co-hosted and co-produced by Gordon Ramsay.

Of all the amateur chefs who audition nationwide, 100 are chosen to cook their signature dishes for three judges.

Contestants need at least two “yes” votes to earn a white MasterChef apron and advance.

The winner receives US$25,000 in cash, a publishing contract, and the Masterchef Cup

 Source: Tuổi Trẻ News

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