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'MasterChef' Season 3 Winner Is Christine Ha



The blind graduate student from Houston, Texas, walked away with a cookbook deal and the $250,000 grand prize.



Christine Ha in "MasterChef"
Christine Ha MasterChefSeptember 10, 2012

Christine Ha in "MasterChef"
Christine Ha in "MasterChef"
Josh Marks in "MasterChef"
Josh Marks in "MasterChef"
Tonight, Season Three of "MasterChef" came to an unforgettable conclusion as judges Gordon Ramsay, Joe Bastianich and Graham Elliot named Christine Ha the winner of FOX's hit home cooking competition series. Ha, 32, is a graduate student from Houston, Tex., and the series' first-ever blind contestant. In addition to earning the "MasterChef" title, Ha walked away with a cookbook deal and the $250,000 grand prize.

"Winning "MasterChef" is the biggest accomplishment of my life," said Christine Ha. "It has taught me to believe in myself and trust my intuition. I am incredibly humbled to have shared this experience with all the other talented home cooks who tried out, especially those in the Top 18 who cooked alongside me for so many challenges."



"Christine has the most extraordinary palate, and she really elevated the competition by conceptualizing and executing the most stunning dishes," said judge and executive producer Gordon Ramsay. "Next season's competition has quite an act to follow!"

Ha became an instant fan favorite after her first audition, when she wowed the judges with her signature dish — catfish braised in a clay pot — and touched viewers both with her inspirational story and immense passion for cooking. Ha began to lose her vision in 1999 as a result of neuromyelitis optica (NMO), a rare autoimmune disorder. But she cooked her way through the auditions round and earned a coveted spot in the Top 18. Each week, she competed in a series of grueling challenges and intense elimination rounds, winning four Team Challenges and one Mystery Box Challenge, and ultimately advancing to the Final Two last week.

In tonight's sensational season finale episode, Ha competed head-to-head against Josh Marks, a U.S. Army Contract Specialist from Jackson, Miss., who was eliminated earlier in the season and made a striking comeback. For the final challenge, Ha created a cohesive, Asian-Influenced three-course meal: an appetizer of Thai Papaya Salad with Crab and Mixed Vegetables; a main course of Braised Pork Belly with Rice, Crispy Kale and Maitake Mushrooms; and a refreshing Coconut Lime Sorbet Ginger Tuile for dessert. In the end, it was Ha's refreshing flavors and elevated comfort food that won over the judges and earned her the "MasterChef" title.

"Entering the competition as a talented, yet somewhat uncertain home cook, it was Christine's fierce determination, exceptional palate and passion for food that led her to inspire the fans across the country and become America's next MasterChef," noted judge Joe Bastianich.

"From her very first audition, Christine moved us with her ability to tell a story and connect with her roots through her distinct flavors," added judge Graham Elliot. "Christine grew leaps and bounds this season, and I couldn't be more proud that she is America's MasterChef."

Nearly 30,000 hopefuls auditioned for Season Three, and "MasterChef" will once again travel across the country and give talented home cooks the chance to prove they have what it takes to make their mark on the culinary world. Open casting calls for Season Four of "MasterChef" will be held on the following dates:

Cities - Dates

San Diego, Calif. - Saturday, October 6
Minneapolis, Minn. - Saturday, October 13
Nashville, Tenn. - Saturday, October 13
Chicago, Ill. - Saturday, October 20
Miami, Fla. - Saturday, October 20
Dallas, Tex. - Saturday, October 27
Cleveland, Ohio - Saturday, October 27
Los Angeles, Calif. - Saturday, November 3
Boston, Mass. - Saturday, November 3
New York, N.Y. - Saturday, November 10
Portland, Ore. - Saturday, November 10

Additional details, including venues and times, will be announced soon.

"MasterChef" is produced by Shine America and One Potato Two Potato and is based on the format created by Franc Roddam and Shine. Shine International handles distribution for the "MasterChef" format. Elisabeth Murdoch, Eden Gaha, Robin Ashbrook, Gordon Ramsay, Adeline Ramage Rooney, Patricia Llewellyn and Ben Adler serve as executive producers.
 
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