On the Live Inspired Podcast, John O’Leary welcomes MasterChef‘s Christine Ha to share a story of resilience, courage and passion — something many of us need during a season of great uncertainty.
Can you imagine losing your ability to see? At 20 years old, this became Christine Ha’s reality. Instead of losing faith or focusing on what she had lost, she used it as her inspiration to pursue her life’s passion: cooking.
Christine joined the competitive cooking reality TV show Masterchef, hosted by notoriously hard-to-please celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay.
Christine won MasterChef Season 3, has hosted her own show, opened her own restaurant, written a New York Times bestseller Recipes from my Home Kitchen and so much more.
In a season of great uncertainty for many of us, Christine’s story of resilience, courage and passion will speak to your soul.
- As an only Christine struggled to balance embracing her American roots and her family’s heritage.
- Growing up as a first-generation Vietnamese-American, Christine struggled yet is now grateful for an enriched childhood.
- While losing her mom at 14, Christine maintained a strong connection to her mom’s culture by living with her grandparents + extended family.
- At 20, Christine began experiencing optic nerve inflammation, causing blurry vision and shifting her life’s perspective.
- Before being properly diagnosed with Neuromyelitis optica (NMO), Christine suffered from spinal cord inflammation leading to paralysis from the neck down.
- Learning to live with vision loss: For years, Christine was constantly adapting to gradual vision loss causing her to re-learn how to accomplish daily tasks.
- Building confidence: Leaning on her network of support + local resources for adapting to a later-in-life disability, Christine learned how to use public transportation, use a white cane and read Braille.
- Celebrate the small victories: Starting with a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, Christine took small steps to relearn her culinary skills, giving her courage to continue.
- With the encouragement of her husband and friends, Christine auditioned for MasterChef only anticipating it’d be material for her creative writing.
- Fake it until you make it. Try your best, and if you believe it then eventually you will get there.
- “In spite of my disability, I was able to compete with the best of them.”
- Second-guessing: While facing numerous disadvantages, Christine found not being able to see what her competitors were preparing as an advantage.
- As a female Asian-American in the male-dominated culinary field, Christine found her success on MasterChef gave her confidence + courage.
- During each grueling challenge, Christine expected the worst and hoped for the best. In the final round, shocked + exhausted, Christine moved Gordon Ramsey to tears and was crowned the winner.
- “I wouldn’t ask for my vision back because my life has gotten better. It’s taught me gumption and fearlessness. My life is fuller now because I reach for things that I love like writing and cooking which I would not have done. I would have lived a safe life.”
- The Blind Goat: a twist on her nickname “The Blind Cook” and being born the year of the goat, Christine’s first restaurant is a modern Vietnamese gastropub. Learn more here.
- Xin Chao: meaning “hello” in Vietnamese was opened during the pandemic features modern Vietnamese dishes. Learn more here.
- Despite losing between 50-80% of expected revenue during the pandemic, Christine maintains hope + faith.
- Advice to those facing struggles: “I don’t like saying ‘things will get better’ because it’s a promise I can’t hold. I’d tell them things can suck and while I don’t know exactly what it feels like to be in their shoes, I’ve had my own struggles. Surround yourself with the right support network + be willing to ask for help and you will find the strength to make it through.”
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CHRISTINE HA'S LIVE INSPIRED 7
- Q. What is the best book you’ve ever read?
A. Angela's Ashes by Frank McCourt.
- Q. What is a characteristic or trait that you possessed as a child that you wish you still exhibited today?
A. I was less concerned about others.
- Q. Your house is on fire, all living things and people are out. You have the opportunity to run in and grab one item. What would it be?
A. My MacBook Air because it has all my photos and recipes.
- Q. You are sitting on a bench overlooking a gorgeous beach. You have the opportunity to have a long conversation with anyone living or dead. Who would it be?
A. Mother Theresa and ask, “what’s life like on the other side?”
- Q. What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
A. Believe in yourself.
- Q. What advice would you give your 20-year-old self?
A. Don’t care about the superficial things. You need to find out who your true friends are.
- Q. It’s been said that all great people can have their lives summed up in one sentence. How do you want yours to read?
A. Christine Ha led the best life and was the best person she could be in the time that she lived.