"Blind Chef" Christine Ha, Agritage Vietnam Deliver Empowering Talk to Ethnic Viet Women
The discussion was held on September 18 in Van Ho Agritage Village (Chieng Yen commune, Van Ho District, Son La). The organizers include the Northwest Development Cooperation Center (TABA), Agritage Vietnam Social Enterprise and the US Embassy in Hanoi.
|Many ethnic minority women at Chieng Yen commune, Van Ho District (Son La) attended the event (Photo: Nhung Nguyen)|
The first speaker of the discussion is American-Vietnamese Christine Ha (Ha Huyen Tran), well known as the first blind contestant and winner of the American TV show "MasterChef" in 2012. The second speaker is Dinh Thi Huyen (Muong ethnic), who founded TABA and Agritage Vietnam. The two speakers shared their own experiences of overcoming challenges to become successful in their businesses and positively contribute to their communities.
At the event, the ethnic minority women at Chieng Yen commune, Van Ho District (Son La) also had the opportunity to discuss many topics such as gender equality and leadership opportunities for women and people with disadvantages.
Adapting and Thriving
|American-Vietnamese chef Christine Ha showcased her cooking skill to the people at Chieng Yen commune (Photo: Nhung Nguyen).|
Christine shared that she loves sharing her Vietnamese heritage and background with other people through food. Although she was born with full vision, Christine gradually lost eyesight in her 20s due to a rare disease of the optic nerve. Still, she wished to cook for herself and those around her so she taught herself and gained a passion for cooking.
"In 2012, I auditioned for MasterChef just to learn how to be a better cook, and also to share inspiring stories with others. I did not expect to win. After winning the third season, my life changed. I traveled to many countries, I came back to Vietnam to be on Masterchef Vietnam. I opened 3 restaurants in Houston, Texas," said Christine.
|Christine Ha (left) presented the special recipe to the representative of Chieng Yen Commune (Photo: Nhung Nguyen).|
The American-Vietnam chef stressed that amid all the challenging times in her life, such as losing her mom at a young age and losing her vision, there are many great opportunities. Thanks to winning on MasterChef, she also opened her own business and focused on her education.
"My biggest prize is the experience of traveling to different countries, trying food from many cultures for my restaurant, meeting and sharing about food with people," said Christine.
For those pursuing a professional career in culinary, Chirstine advised them to travel to formulate a robust palette. Although it is a challenging career path, she believes that being knowledgeable about a lot of different flavors and food cultures, as well as the will to try new things will be beneficial.
Christine Ha (Ha Huyen Tran) was born in 1979 in California (US), is the first visually impaired person to participate and win in the famous American TV show "MasterChef". Her first cookbook, "Recipes From My Kitchen", was a New York Times bestseller. The Houston-based chef starred as a special judge on culinary programs and competitions in many countries, including the "MasterChef Vietnam 2014" and "MasterChef Vietnam 2015". Currently, she is the owner of 3 famous restaurants in Houston (Texas), namely Blind Goat, Xin Chào and Stuffed Belly.
The power of knowledge
Speaker Dinh Thi Huyen, Founder of TABA and Agritage Vietnam, said that she was grateful for the education she received as an alumni of the US Department's exchange program. It helped build the foundation of knowledge and motivation on the path to realizing her dreams.
|Agritage Vietnam Hosts Empowering Talk With "Blind Chef" Christine Ha|
"My success story is not just about overcoming barriers and prejudices to realize my own dreams. It is also about the dream of creating a place where people of ethnic minorities can raise their voices, and where ethnic minorities support each other. That is the reason why I founded TABA in 2011," said Huyen.
Through many trials, Huyen currently has profitable businesses and projects in operation, bringing positive impacts to the community, including the Van Ho Agritage project.
"Agritage Van Ho is the first heritage Agricultural Village supported by TABA Center, Son La Provincial Department of Planning and Investment, and Van Ho District People's Committee to build and operate according to the 5 sustainability principles of United Nations' Food and Agriculture Association (FAO). Since 2019, the project has supported 58 households of Thai ethnic in Buot village (Chieng Yen commune, Van Ho, Son La) to start organic farming and to develop community tourism combined with nature conservation," exclaimed Huyen.
The model initially became a sustainable livelihood for the 58 Thai households. Many jobs were created thanks to this model. Van Ho Agritage agricultural goods are being distributed in Hanoi. Their best-selling products are rice, vegetables, pork and chicken. Since 2011, the tourism activities in Buot village also attracted many tourists in the first two years of operation.
|Agritage Vietnam Hosts Empowering Talk With "Blind Chef" Christine Ha.|
Participant Ban Thi Kieu (Dao ethnic), Head of the Women's Union of Chieng Yen commune, shared that she was inspired by the speakers' stories of running their own businesses amid many challenges.
"I think this is a valuable opportunity to meet two great female entrepreneurs with energetic and inspirational stories. They help me see that an ethnic minority woman like me can also thrive further," said Kieu.
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