Back in October, I was in Toronto shooting the first season of my Canadian cooking show, “Four Senses,” when I received a message on Facebook from Sandee Birdsong, the almighty culinary producer behind all the main competitive culinary shows you see on American television, including MasterChef U.S., Top Chef, and now MasterChef Canada.

“You’re in Toronto?? I’m here doing MC Canada, and we’re about to tape our finale. Can you come visit the set and give a pep talk to the finalists?” Sandee had said.

October 25th just happened to be a dark day for “Four Senses” (“dark” meaning a day or days that are non-filming), so after I wrapped up some media in the morning, the hubs and I were picked up in a nondescript van to be whisked away to the set. Oh, how those econovans remind me of my own MasterChef days—we’d started out with at least a dozen vans, and the closer we got to the end, the less contestants left standing, and thus, the less vans roaming the streets of L.A.

The hubs and I were driven to the outskirts of Toronto where the landscape (so I’m told) turned from skyscrapers to warehouses. Typical production sets, I thought.

It was great to see Sandee and her right-hand man, Brad, both of whom I’d known from my very first day at MasterChef U.S. season 3. Sandee ushered me first to the holding room for the two finalists, Eric Chong and Marida Mohammed. They were both in their chef whites, probably crapping their chef pants, and going over their menu and execution steps in their heads. I remember being in that position all too well.

Eric and Marida’s reactions to meeting me were so cute. I was surprised they knew who I was; I didn’t expect Canada to know me (but I hope to change that with “Four Senses.”

Afterwards, I met the judges, Michael Bonacini, Claudio Aprile, and Alvin Leung. Again, I was touched by their enthusiasm, especially when Chef Aprile said he’d been emotionally invested in my season. Later on, in the green room, I was listening to the judges’ audio before rolling, and I could hear them discussing how inspiring I was and how nice it was to get a surprise drop-in from me. I chuckled at how the off-camera conversations of the MasterChef Canada’” judges were so positive and pleasant compared to the kind I had with Gordon, Graham, and Joe when I’d returned for a guest appearance on season 4. Let’s just say Gordon, Graham, and Joe are vulgar yet hilarious, and I dare not repeat the things they’d said here for the sake of my PG-rated blog.

Lastly, I entered the MasterChef set, which the art team had just remodeled into the showdown-style kitchen similar to that of MasterChef U.S.’S. (Ours was circular while theirs was square—“Budget constraints,” Sandee had reasoned.) Up in the gallery, just like during our finale, the previously eliminated contestants stood, waiting for the cue that film was rolling. Again, I received the warmest of welcomes, and they even brought me to tears. Just a little. In spite of what you’ve all seen on MasterChef season 3, I’m really not a frequent crier!

The MasterChef Canada finale aired Monday night, so the embargo on the footage my hubs had recorded that day has finally been lifted. We’ve made this into the second Blind Life YouTube episode and hope you enjoy the behind-the-scenes snippets of a MasterChef production.

Did you watch MasterChef Canada? Who was your favorite? What did you think of the finale?

To Eric, Marida, and all the other MC Canada contestants, what I said is true: your life is what you make of it. That’s what I’ve learned from losing my mom at an early age, from being diagnosed with Neuromyelitis Optica and losing my vision, from my time on MasterChef U.S. I wish all of you the best of luck. Don’t be afraid to dream big. xoxo


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8 Discussion to this post

  1. Shanondoah says:

    We love you in Canada, I loved you on Masterchef. Can't wait to see your new show! Exciting it's from Canada.

    • Christine Ha says:

      Returning the love right back at 'cha, Canada! “Four Senses” is currently airing on AMI-TV. Hope you can catch it somehow.

  2. Anna Di Cerbo says:

    Loved watching this! Thanks for sharing. My husband was in the gallery (Pino – made it to top 6!) and I know he was so touched by your visit. We are big fans and watched your season intently especially because of our son's issues with his eyes (had cataracts in both eyes at age 2). I have been trying to figure out how to watch Four Senses but can't seem to tune in – any insight?

    • Christine Ha says:

      So lovely to e-meet you! Funny and true story: Alexander of MasterChef Junior U.S. emailed me today about a school project, and he mentioned his mom works with your husband…? Small world indeed. Thank you very much for dropping by, watching, and leaving this comment. It keeps me going when I hear the positive impact I have made and hopefully will continue to make on others, even if just the slightest bit.”Four Senses” is only broadcasted on the AMI network for now. We are hoping to find other ways to syndicate it and make it available to all. Please stay tuned, and I will be sure to announce it if/when it happens.Keep on fighting the good fight. xoxo

      • Anna Di Cerbo says:

        Thank you for your note! You truly are an inspiration and so glad we had the opportunity to watch you. Did Alexander’s mom ever work in Canada?! Where? Pino is a stay at home dad now. Small world!

        I will definitely stay tuned and see how to subscribe (if it’s) possible to AMI.

        Loved you Lent project too:)

        • Christine Ha says:

          Not sure where Alexander's mom worked or works. Guess it's true we're all separated by 6 degrees. Thanks for your support, and best wishes to you and yours.

  3. Roshaida says:

    Masterchef Canada is my introduction to the masterchef series, and thanks to it, I get to know about you as I googled and watched the masterchef US on youtube.
    Throughout the masterchef Canada, I was rooting for Marida, but she lost to Eric in the finale (it was intense and too close to guess the winner). A contrast to masterchef US judges, the masterchef Canada judges are more polite, even though Chef Alvin is rather intimidating. (Would love to have your meeting with them in this video).
    It was nice of you to drop in and say hi to the contestants, and I really love their reactions on your surprise visit (Danielle was in tears throughout your visit; Carly and Tamara obvious surprise and delight as they walk in into the set and saw you; the awe and respect for you shown by all the contestants). And last but not least, your parting words (your life is what you make of it) are very inspirational not just for the contestants, but for the rest of us who watched this video. Thank you!

    • Christine Ha says:

      Glad you enjoyed this video. 🙂 It was a nice visit. I've since been back to Canada to film my second season of “Four Senses” and hung out with judges. Photos posted on my Facebook ( and Instagram (@theblindcook).

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