Christine Hà, the “MasterChef” winner known as “The Blind Cook”, to open her first restaurant

Chef Christine Hà, the first blind contestant on competitive cooking show "MasterChef" and winner of the show's third season, is opening her first restaurant in April.

Christine Hà, the “MasterChef” winner known as “The Blind Cook”, to open her first restaurant

"MasterChef" season three winner Christine Hà will open her first restaurant, The Blind Goat, this April. Julie Soefer Photography

The Blind Goat, located inside Houston's Bravery Chef Hall, will feature a predominantly Vietnamese menu with unique influences from across the globe.

"The menu is very much rooted in my Vietnamese heritage but there's a playful spin on a lot of the dishes," Hà told INSIDER. "I was born in Southern California and my parents are from Vietnam, but I grew up in Houston. Being raised in Texas and born in America, I have western influences on my menu as well. I infused some Texas stuff and some Mexican stuff into my Vietnamese cooking."

Hà also said that she has traveled "all over Asia," and is therefore "bringing some other Asian influences into the menu."

Hà's path to opening her first restaurant has been far from straightforward. She first taught herself to cook in college, around the time her vision began to deteriorate.

Although she said she was born with "perfectly normal vision," Hà said she began experiencing haziness in one of her eyes at the age of 20.

As her cooking skills progressed, so too did her visual impairment. Multiple neurological attacks later, Hà had lost most of her vision to what she eventually learned was an autoimmune disease called neuromyelitis optica. Despite the fact that she could no longer see the masterpieces she was creating, she held onto her passion for cooking.

"It was all kind of happening at the same time — the gradual vision loss and the learning to cook. It was a weird transition I guess but I just kept at it," Hà said. "Throughout that whole time, I was picking up a lot of skills with cooking but each time I would lose more vision."

Feeling like she "had to start over," Hà said she had to "learn just to adapt." "If I couldn't physically see what the color of the food was in the pan, I'd have to start thinking about how to use my other senses to figure out what stage of cooking the food was at," she said. "I learned to use a knife just by touch."

Christine Hà, the “MasterChef” winner known as “The Blind Cook”, to open her first restaurant

Hà said she had to adapt her cooking skills as her vision deteriorated. Julie Soefer Photography

Just a few years after becoming legally blind, Hà competed on the third season of 'MasterChef USA'

During her emotional audition, Hà cooked a Vietnamese catfish that received rave reviews from the judges and earned her a white apron.

"That's one of the most delicious dishes I've tasted in this competition so far," Ramsay said on the show.

Hà defeated more than 30,000 home cooks across the US to win the season despite having to navigate the set with limited assistance. She earned a $250,000 cash prize and a cookbook deal for her victory, and went on to write the New York Times best-seller "Recipes From My Home Kitchen: Asian and American Comfort Food."

Since being named a 'Masterchef' winner, Hà has been featured on multiple major news platforms and been recognized for her culinary achievement

In 2014, Hà earned the Helen Keller Personal Achievement Award from the American Foundation for the Blind, joining past recipients such as Ray Charles, Patty Duke, and Stevie Wonder. She also served as a culinary envoy for the American Embassy in Jordan, Serbia, Bosnia/Herzegovina, and Croatia, co-hosted Canadian cooking show "Four Senses," and served as a judge on "MasterChef Vietnam."

Now, she will return to Texas to fulfill yet another dream by opening her first restaurant

For Hà, there is something particuarly special about opening her own restaurant.

"I have always wanted to share my cooking with other people. I think that's what initially sparked joy with me in cooking and why I began to love cooking," Hà said. "My favorite pastime is sitting around a table with food and drink and just chatting with my friends, and that's the same experience I'm trying to recreate with The Blind Goat."

Despite winning "MasterChef," writing a best-selling cookbook, traveling across the world, judging other chef's cooking, and all of her other successes, it's the allure of bringing people together that continues to motivate Hà.

"Food has a very universal ability to connect people," the chef said. "Regardless of what language you speak, what religion you are, what beliefs you may have, I feel like two people can sit down together at a table and share in a meal and bond in that way."



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