Queensland retail manager Ben Ungermann gets emotional when he speaks about his family.
The father-of-three lived with his Dutch grandparents in Brisbane during high school and credits his maternal grandmother, his Oma, as being ‘my rock”.
“Oma has been through a lot and she’s definitely my hero,” Ben, 32, tells TV WEEK.
“I owe everything to her – my interest in food has come from her.”
Ben reveals his grandmother emigrated to Australia after surviving World War II in The Netherlands under German occupation.
“I’ve heard all her horror stories and that was pretty tough,” Ben says.
Shortly after arriving in Australia, his grandmother suffered another setback when she was diagnosed with breast cancer.
“She had to have a large portion of breast taken out and so that was tough as well,” Ben adds.
Yet despite the earlier hardships it was the devastating floods in Brisbane in 2011 that was nearly too much for her to take.
“That almost broke her,” Ben says. “She didn’t care about the house being damaged, it was the photos and videos of us as kids that she lost.”
Now she lives with his parents in Ipswich, and Ben adds it was Oma that encouraged him to pursue his cooking dreams.
“She’s the one that kick-started everything,” he says. “I love her to death.”