Food

5 minutes with chef Christine Ha

By: Canadian Living
Canadian Living
Food

5 minutes with chef Christine Ha

By: Canadian Living

Season 3 winner of Master Chef USA and author of the food blog The Blind Cook, chef Christine Ha has been co-costing the cooking show Four Senses, on AMI-tv, which is currently airing its second season. We chatted with Christine to get her take on the show and ask her about her love for cooking. Make sure to watch Four Senses Friday April 17th at 7 PM -- our very own Food Director Annabelle Waugh will be the guest chef for that evening's episode! Canadian Living: Can you tell us about Four Senses, the cooking show you're hosting? Christine Ha: “Four Senses” has me co-hosting with Carl Heinrich, a sighted chef who won “Top Chef” Canada season 2. He and I have a guest chef on every episode where we each cook a recipe according to a particular theme. “Four Senses” airs on AMI, the accessible media network, which is geared towards the vision and hearing impaired audience. The innovative thing about “Four Senses” is the audio description is built right into the show rather than in post-production. That means blind viewers can follow along as we cook because accurate descriptions are embedded right into the episode. To me, this is important because I used to love watching cooking shows when I had vision, but it became quite a challenge after vision loss since it was so difficult to follow along when things aren’t well described. Four Senses CL: You're co-hosting the show with Top Chef Canada Season 2 winner Carl Heinrich. What's it been like to work alongside him? CH: It’s been great. He and I get along very well, and I think our charisma comes across on camera. We both respect each other’s talents and abilities. CL: What steps will be embedded in the show to maximize the experience for the visually impaired? CH: Everything we are doing, step-by-step, is audibly embedded within the episode. No more pronouns (e.g. “I've put this much salt into it”); rather we use detailed description (e.g. “I’ve put one teaspoon of salt into the pot in which the tomatoes have been stewing”). CL: How did your love of food come about? Do you remember the first dish you ever made? CH: My love for food came about when I first began cooking in college. I was fascinated by the fact that cooking was both an art and a science by the process by which you can turn raw ingredients into a cohesive, delicious meal. When I was able to bring smiles to my friends’ and roommates’ faces that was what sealed the deal. I remember the first successful dish I cooked: it was ginger braised chicken, and I’d followed a recipe step-by-step from a second-hand cookbook. CL: What's your go-to dish for busy weeknights? And an unusual ingredient you always have on hand? CH: Lately, Chinese style hotpot has been my go-to-dish for busy weeknights. It’s easy: all you have to do is chop up the vegetables, slice the meats, and lay everything out on plates for self-service. Then you make the hotpot broth however you like it; I usually use chicken stock, garlic, scallion, coriander, and maybe some spicy pastes. The unusual ingredient I always have on hand is fish sauce! Fish sauce is not such an unusual ingredient in a Vietnamese kitchen, but it’s still considered exotic by many. But a little bit of fish sauce goes a long way—it adds umami and can lift a dish to the next level. CL: Is there a misconception about the visually impaired that you'd like to dispel? CH: We can do most things sighted people can—we just do them differently. Once equipped with the proper adaptations and perhaps after a little assistance or guidance, we are pretty capable people. CL: Is there anything you thought might be a challenge to cook but that you've able to overcome and whip up? CH: A full Thanksgiving meal. This was what I was doing before I lost my vision, and then I had to start relearning how to cook after vision loss. I’m happy to say, aside from the help I get from my husband with the turkey, I can now whip up an even better Thanksgiving meal than ever before. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. Catch our Food Director Annabelle Waugh on Four Senses on AMItv Friday April 17th at 7:00PM.
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5 minutes with chef Christine Ha

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