thoughts on the passing of josh marks

As many of you may have heard, my friend and co-finalist for “MasterChef” season 3, Josh Marks, recently passed away from an apparent suicide. Josh was one of my closest friends from the show, and it greatly bereaves me to have learned of this news. As if this wasn’t enough, I see that someone who doesn’t know either one of us personally has been making judgments online. Today someone posted on my Facebook page (and I paraphrase) that “nobody cares about Josh, that none of us helped him before it was too late.”

I am sorry, but I have to express my disappointment in reading this statement. This comes from a person who admits he/she does not know Josh nor I nor any of his family and friends personally, and to make that sort of a judgment is completely uncalled for and wrong. To think that nobody tried to help him dismisses the great lengths his mother went through to try to help her son. To say this is to believe her efforts were nonexistent.

I am the kind of person that does not like to focus on the negative, but rather the positive, of a situation or person. I am also the kind of person that believes in respecting people’s privacy. This is why I choose not to post or write about Josh’s circumstances on my blog, Facebook, or Twitter. Josh’s loved ones are going through enough grief; they don’t need the additional stress of any unwanted media on them. But after reading this person’s allegations that nobody cared about Josh, I had to say something.

Is it not enough for us to be going through this grief, now we have to answer to people’s accusations, too? I am deeply saddened by Josh’s passing, but I prefer not to air it out online. My bereavement is personal and between me and those who knew Josh. It is not between me and the rest of the world. It is not my responsibility to report publicly what my relationship with Josh was like, how many times we’ve talked or emailed, what we talked or emailed about, how he felt, how I’m feeling, what transpired between us, what I have or have not done, and so on. And I think anyone who questions what any of us are going through or are thinking or have or have not done should really mind their own business. It greatly upsets me to know that people would think just because we have been on TV means 100% of our lives belong to the public. This is simply not true. And it upsets me to know that some people confuse our choice of keeping some things private with not caring. These are not equivalent.

With all this being said, there has only been one person who had anything negative to say. Everyone else has sent their sympathies, and these are very much appreciated. On behalf of Josh’s family, friends, colleagues, and his fellow MasterChef family, thank you for your sincere condolences. Please continue to keep Josh and his loved ones in your thoughts and prayers.

blind life episode 101: pop-up episoe 1 recap


Here it is, as promised: the “pilot” of my grassroots “Blind Life” YouTube series. A while back, I mentioned on my Facebook fan page that, per the request of fans, I would be starting a YouTube series called “Blind Life” to showcase what my daily life is like as a visually impaired individual. Since the show, much interest has been brewing about the Christine beyond the MC3Christine: what do I cook at home regularly, how do I get around my house, how do I navigate Facebook/Twitter/my blog? Well, ask no further. Here is the beginning of all the answers to your questions.

I cheated a little with my first episode, only because it’s the hubster and me making up the entire whole of the crew. He directs and edits while I write and act. So while we get the hang of things, we decided to make a large act of this episode the video montage by Dave Franklin who was asked by MKT BAR and Phoenicia Specialty Foods to commemorate the whole pop-up experience. It was the first pop-up service for both myself and MKT BAR, and neither of us could have been happier with the results.

So for those of you who live far away from Houston and couldn’t fly here for the event, or who came at 4 PM only to find out we were sold out of all 240+ covers, or those of you who got to enjoy the food but are wondering what went on back of house, here you go. Don’t forget to leave a comment letting me know what you think of episode 101 and what you’d like to see in future episodes. Also, if you have a question you’d like me to answer, let me know that, too. Make sure to subscribe so you’ll know when the next video is up. Happy watching!

yahoo! japan 3d printer helps blind children surf the web

Ever on top of the tech news, the hubster sent me a link to this article about the 3D printer from Yahoo! Japan that helps the blind navigate the web. I’ve only recently learned of the 3D printer concept (thanks to the geeky hubs), and because I can’t see to watch a video demo of it online, I’m still unclear on the concept of a 3D printer. For some reason, I keep picturing paper scrolling out of a regular-looking printer but then suddenly popping into 3D shapes much like a pop-up book—you know, the kind that we used to read when we were little with the cardboard pop-ups on each page?

Regardless, it’s news like this that makes me happy to know the world is advancing in ways that help level the playing field for the visually impaired. What do you think of this concept? In what ways can you imagine this helping not just the blind world, but the world in general? The imagination is endless. I love it.

accessible app: our groceries helps the blind (and the sighted) make shopping lists easily and efficiently

Whew. Talk about a long-winded headline. But lately, I’ve had lots of energy. Not only did Pop-up Episode 1 at MKT BAR go off without a hitch (more on that soon—I’ll have a surprise for you in that regard), I’ve been [sort of] relaxing lately with some down time before the culinary adventures begin again.

I’ve been sleeping better than I have in years, trying to eat a little healthier, and working out a little more than usual (which, sadly enough, isn’t much). But I’m feeling good. I have a few weeks to shed the apron for the pen; with a personal essay and short story on my revision desk, not to mention that pesky memoir I haven’t touched since my thesis defense, I’m welcoming a change of pace in my daily routine. But what I’m looking forward to the most is being able to wear pajamas, no make-up, and bed-head every day.
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pop-up episode 1 at mkt bar houston sep. 14th 3 to 6 pm

For the past twelve months, one of the questions I get most frequently is, “Christine, when will you be opening your own restaurant?” Or, “Christine, how can we try some of your food?” But for the past eighteen months, my life has been a whirlwind, as you can imagine. First, it was filming the show. Then it was doing press for the show. Then it was speaking at this conference and cooking on that TV show and attending this benefit and that event. Oh, and let’s not forget I had to write a thesis, defend it, and graduate somewhere in there, too. Life’s been quite full, I should say.

While I’ve looked extensively into opening my dream gastropub in Houston, there have just been so many other opportunities still falling into my lap that I couldn’t bear to pass up. I’m the kind of person that, when I start a project, gives it my 110%. So I know that opening an establishment would require my full attention for at least a year or two before it can steadily run on its own. Because I don’t want how much xanax to take to miss certain opportunities, I’ve decided to put the gastropub plans on the back burner until everything falls into place.

But I was still very much aware of the fact that everyone’s still asking to try my cooking. And that’s why I’m finally doing my first ever pop-up in my hometown of Houston. I’ve finally gotten a month where I’ll be in town to plan the menu, logistics, and prep for the pop-up. I’m proud to announce in conjunction with MKT BAR (co-owned by a dear friend of mine since middle school, Haig Tcholakian), I will be hosting Pop-up Episode 1: a tribute/farewell to summer. It will be held at MKT BAR in downtown Houston this Saturday, Sep. 14th, from 3 to 6 PM. Please note that it’s on a first come, first serve basis. Alvin Schultz from ”MasterChef” season 2 will be cooking alongside me in the kitchen.

For some more information about the event, you can read the Houston Chronicle story, the interview I did with CultureMap, or visit the pop-up Facebook event. We look forward to feeding you.

web blackout in serbia raises blind awareness

I came across this article about a blind awareness campaign in Serbia that involved blacking out many popular websites to give the sighted websurfer a taste of what it’s like to be blind. Interesting concept, I thought. The organization behind the campaign is White Cane, and they help provide guide dogs for the blind.

I recently returned from a cruise on the Adriatic, and I met two Serbians who were part of the crew, and their jovial personalities completely disarmed me. Those Serbians are cool people. I know it’s a random stretch, but I hadn’t thought of or met any Serbians for the past 5 years, and suddenly, they’re popping here and there into my life. Maybe that’s next on my destination list.

Read more about the blackout campaign on the Serbian web. Thoughts?

first ever guest blogger: meet jon m

This week, I have a guest blogger (my first one ever, so be kind). Meet Jon. He reached out to me after learning about me on “MasterChef.”. Jon is a photographer. Read on to find out what makes Jon’s story so intriguing.

Hi, I’m Jon. Like many, I have been inspired by Christine to achieve my Dreams.

I have 2 things in common with Christine. First, I am a creative person; I couldn’t cook to save my life, but I can paint, draw, and take great photos. Second, I have temporary blindness—I’m currently legally blind in my left eye from a secondary Cataract, and am fighting permanent blindness from Glaucoma.

My story began when I was just 19 months old and was Diagnosed as one of the youngest cases of Junior Rheumatoid Arthritis (JRA). This was well treated during my youth and went into remission. Meanwhile, I was showing a lot of promise as an artist; my grandmother and father both taught me how to paint and draw. Growing up, I was always known as the artist.

In junior High, the JRA struck hard and fast, almost crippling me. I was quickly treated before it could cause permanent damage. With medicine like Celebrex, and Enbrel, I was able to suppress it and live a normal life.

At 16, I noticed some blurriness in my right eye. It turned out to be Uveitis (arthritis/inflammation in the eye caused by my JRA). the treatment of this disease is what ended up causing my Cataracts and Glaucoma a few years later. During this time, I had honed my craft and was able to draw pictures with such detail that people often mistook them for photos. I won competitions and was accepted as a Sophomore in High School to a prestigious Art School in Brooklyn.

But I decided to go to college in Idaho for business. After just a semester, I was pulled out because I had full-blown Glaucoma in my right eye and had lost 75% of my optic nerves life. I spent the next few years in surgery and recovery. That was when I reevaluated my life and realized there are no guarantees for tomorrow. I then spent my early 20s soaking up life: traveling, skiing, hiking, spending time with my friends at their colleges—getting the most out of life that I possibly could. This was hands down one of the 2 best decisions I have made. I still live my life with this mindset and love it.

Three years ago, I made the other best decision of my life: I started my photography business. I jumped in head first, bought a professional camera and lens setup, and immediately started building my portfolio. It was a few years before I learned how to be a professional in the industry, all the while losing vision in my right eye to the point where I couldn’t see any definition through my viewfinder. I would use my left eye to see the shot and try to frame the composition with my right eye. Amazingly I did some great work during that time. I was able to get the blurriness cleared up, thanks to my great doctors and new technologies.

I am now becoming one of the best photographers in the area, and I’m working towards national recognition. God gave me challenges and shortcomings, but two things He gave me in abundance are Aspiration and Drive. I spend every day studying and teaching myself how to become better. I want to be recognized as one of the best photographers in the world, and won’t settle until that happens. Watching Christine take on a challenge that seemed insurmountable, and not only do well, but excel and ultimately win was all the affirmation and inspiration I could ever ask for. It just goes to show that your limits only reside in your mind. Knowing this has amplified my determination and growth. I have seen a great deal of personal and professional success since being inspired by her on “MasterChef.” Knowing that I am capable of becoming the best has torn down the walls that were once limiting me. I just turned 30 a few weeks ago and am looking forward to my future.

Thanks, Jon, for sharing your story. And you all thought I was nuts for being a Blind Cook, huh? Check out Jon’s work at Jon M Photography, and show him some blind love.

baseball for the blind

We’re deep in the season of baseball. Who said blindness has to stop you from playing America’s most beloved sport? Check out this video clip about the Long Island Bombers, a baseball team for the blind. And I thought I was brave, being on ”MasterChef” and snowboarding. But I would still be scared out of my mind to hear balls flying at my face. ;)

i am a cook who lost her eyesight 5 years ago, but still cooks every day

Nope, this IAmA doesn’t belong to me, though I did one recently. (You can still check out my IAmA on reddit.) This is a fellow blind cook’s IAmA that preceded mine. By the sound of her recipes, she’s spectacular and adept in her own home kitchen. Kudos to her for sharing the stage with me and showing the world that blind people can do just about everything a sighted person can—only differently. Read this blind cook’s IAmA and catch another glimpse into our culinary world.

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