Christine Ha: I chock it all up to maturity. As I became an adult myself, I learned to appreciate what my mother did for me as a child. I learned to appreciate her cooking and, thus, food itself.
CH: First, I had to accept my diagnosis and condition. That helped me pick myself up and move forward. And because that passion for food already existed in me, it was then all about adapting — how do I do things differently to accomplish the same tasks in the kitchen? Which equipments or tools will be helpful for cooking without sight?
CH: I always say my time on MasterChef was one of the most stressful, most intense, craziest, yet most amazing experiences of my life. Gordon Ramsay says it like it is; he's a great mentor on MasterChef. He's also hilarious — he'd have us all laughing even if it was 6 a.m. and we were all bleary-eyed.
CH: Once I'd finished the show, I knew that it was a life-changing experience and I wanted to commemorate it with some body art. The tattoo incorporates three of my favorite ingredients with which to cook and eat: garlic, cilantro and a school of anchovies to represent fish sauce. They are three ingredients I used quite often on MasterChef, and I felt like they were, especially the fish sauce, my secret weapons. I wanted the ingredients to flow together harmoniously (as they do in the dishes I cook), so I asked for a Japanese print to be applied to the piece, which is why they are all connected by a wave of water. The Japanese highly value art, Zen and harmony — all elements I feel should be a part of food.
CH: That is an extremely difficult question to answer, as I love so many different types of comfort food. If I were to eat a comfort dish from each cuisine right now, I'd pick my mama's chicken noodle soup for Asian and Cajun fried turkey and all the Thanksgiving fixins for American.
CH: Many of the recipes you'll find in my cookbook are not fussy — the ingredients are easy to find, the techniques are simple and the results are fabulous. Classic bruschetta is delicious and elegant but not time consuming to prepare. Chicken curry is one of those comfort dishes that taste like you've been cooking it for hours but in actuality has little hands-on requirement. Grilled beef short ribs taste impressive but call for just eight ingredients. Other simple yet savory recipes include panko-crusted lamb, meatloaf and Thai basil clams.
CH: The Japanese gyuto chef's knife my husband gifted me this month upon my graduation from the Master of Fine Arts program in creative writing.
Season 4 of MasterChef begins May 22 on FOX.
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