By: Seth Johnson

Six ISBVI students pose for a photo with Chef Jody May in the lobby of Ivy Tech’s Culinary and Conference Center. Two of the students are wearing a white chef’s hat. Chef May is wearing one as well.On Aug. 16, a group of six ISBVI students took part in a very special virtual cooking class led by MasterChef Season 3 winner Christine Ha at the Ivy Tech Culinary and Conference Center.

Known for being the only chef who’s blind to win MasterChef, Ha kicked off the course by introducing herself to the students, giving them a bit of background on how she got to be where she is today.

“I started teaching myself to cook when I was about 20 years old, and I was in college. So it’s definitely possible to become really good at it if you enjoy it,” Ha said. “If you don’t, that’s totally okay too. Cooking is not for everybody, but you should learn to cook a little bit of something because eventually you’ll want to be independent and learn to feed yourself.”

Over the course of the hour-long cooking class, Ha walked the ISBVI students through her recipe for Chinese cold sesame noodles, giving them firsthand food prep pointers to help them navigate the kitchen as individuals who are blind or visually impaired. In addition to Ha’s virtual instruction, the ISBVI students were also provided with in-person expertise from Jody May, the first individual who’s blind to graduate from Ivy Tech’s culinary arts program.

As Christine Ha walked the students through her recipe, she also made sure to share several bits of wisdom she’d picked up over the course of her life’s journey.

“One of our core values at all my restaurants is, ‘Be better today than you were yesterday,’ and that’s kind of the philosophy I live life by,” Ha told the students. “That was really something that stemmed from my time on MasterChef.”

Christine Ha is scene on a large screen in a kitchen at the Ivy Tech Culinary and Conference Center as she communicates with ISBVI students via Zoom. To the left of the screen, we see Chef Jody May, who also helped instruct the students in person.After they had successfully prepared the recipe, the students reconvened to give the noodles a taste test before heading back to the ISBVI campus. When asked to reflect on the experience overall, a pair of ISBVI students shared that they hope to continue honing their skills in the kitchen for the sheer fact that it will help them to become more independent.

“I think it's important because I really want to be independent as an adult and not rely on anyone else,” said one student. “So if I can learn how to cook and be independent in that way, then that means for the rest of my life I won't have to rely on anyone to do things for me. I can just do it myself.”

“I want to become independent so I can just live on my own and not have to worry about buying food every day,” added another student.

On Saturday, Oct. 7, Christine Ha will serve as the keynote speaker at IBCF’s annual Through the Looking Glass Gala, held at the Renaissance Indianapolis Hotel in Carmel. Fittingly, this year’s “Fund-A-Need” at the Gala will support an adaptive culinary arts program for youth who are blind or have low vision.

To bring this adaptive culinary arts program to fruition, be sure to purchase tickets to the 2023 Gala at




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