What astonished the viewers was the fact that Ha was blind.
“I think there are a lot of people who completely discounted me,” Ha told “Nightline.” “They think I’m there as a TV gimmick for ratings. People will say, ‘what is she doing? Is she going to cut her finger off?’ But I cook at home for years without vision, so if I can do it at home I don’t see why I can’t prove to everyone else I can do it on national TV.”
Week after week Ha managed to bring the best dishes within the group of chefs using only her sense of taste, smell and touch to guide her, FOX did allow to use her aide, Cindy but she did’t cut or help with the preparation of the food.
“She’s basically my eyes,” Ha said.
“I couldn’t see what anyone else was doing, I was solely focused on myself, and I think that helped me. It gave me an advantage,” she said. “When I came out of it, it was most stressful intense experience of her life, it was amazing.”
Ha said she is able to compete mainly because she was not born blind. She nearly lost all of her eyesight about five years ago after being diagnosed with an auto-immune disease that attacks the optic nerves.
“I see shadows,” Ha said. “I think the best way for me to describe it is, if you were to come out of a really hot shower and looked into a really steamy mirror, that fogginess is what I see.”
But Ha, who has no professional culinary training, said she was determined not to let blindness force her to give it up.
“When I lost my vision, there was one time, I tried to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich,” she said. “I recall getting it all over the counter. I just started crying and was wondering if I would ever cook again.”