Growing up in a family of eight – in Zimbabwe, then moving to South Africa and ultimately immigrating to Australia – food has always been a big part of Ralph Kahango's childhood. While the MasterChef Australia contestant experienced some dark periods, it's these struggles that have pushed him to look on the bright side of life and pursue his love of cooking.
The amateur chef – already known for singing during the high-pressure cook-offs – tries to remain positive in stressful situations, knowing how unexpectedly life can change."You're well one minute and then, in the blink of an eye, you're sick – and the next minute, you could pass away," Ralph, 32, tells TV WEEK. "That's a big drive for me."
Ralph was 17 when he endured the tragedy of losing a brother, but little did he know there was more heartache to come.
"Losing my brother shaped me," he says. "Then, a year later, I lost a second brother. That's when it kind of hits home. My parents lost two sons; we lost two siblings."
Ralph remains optimistic about life, his secret to happiness being to always celebrate the joys in life.
"When bad things happen, we tend to dwell on them," he says. "But when something good happens, we don't celebrate it enough."
After a bumpy road for the Kahango family, Ralph's tilt at becoming Australia's next MasterChef winner has been warmly supported by his loved ones.
"My mum's a big supporter, but my younger sister would be my biggest supporter – she's over the moon," he shares. "She's so happy I decided to follow the passion that makes me happy."
South African President and civil rights advocate Nelson Mandela, who died in 2013, is one of Ralph's heroes. When Ralph lived in South Africa, he witnessed a lot of the good that came from his rule and efforts to end apartheid.
And what would he do if he were to meet Nelson now?
"I would really love to sit down with him and cook him dinner – hopefully, he'd enjoy it," Ralph says with a laugh.
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