Khanh Ong has always pictured himself having kids. But now he feels a real 'sense of urgency'.

Khanh Ong has always wanted to be a parent. But now, he feels his own clock ticking quickly.

The TV personality, cook and author is best known for being his bubbly, cheery self on our screens, whether it be via MasterChef Australia, I'm A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here! or even his own show Khanh Ong's Wild Food.

In his chat with Mamamia this week though, Ong shows another side of himself.

"When you're flying around, filming content, meeting amazing people, you can't really complain about much. You can't say anything. But life is also really stressful sometimes," he tells But Are You Happy.

"I really want kids. I've always really wanted kids. I'm thinking I need to start that process now, I am feeling a sense of urgency. I'm at an age where I probably still have five or six years before it becomes very urgent. That idea scares me and it makes me really upset that I possibly might not have them," says the 31-year-old.

"If I do this alone, how do I make that work?"

Watch: Khanh Ong's highlights from MasterChef Australia. Post continues below.

Video via Channel 10.

Ong always grew up picturing himself with the farm, the chickens and the kids. That vision comes from what his parents had experienced.


Ong spent the first two years of his life in an immigration camp in Indonesia, before moving to Australia with his family in the 1990s. His parents had fled Vietnam as refugees via boat, in desperate search of a better life.

Eventually they ended up in Melbourne, Ong's father working as a butcher and his mother as a seamstress.

"They were workhorses. Dad would work all day in his butcher's shop and at night mum would be making all her samples and garments for these big chain stores around Australia. I remember sitting on the kitchen counter with mum and dad at night as they made dinner, and they would debrief about their day."

Sadly, when Ong was 16, his father passed away from cancer. It was devastating for the family, Ong helping run the butcher business, as well as trying to support his grieving mother.

Being a typical teenager though, he and his mother were butting heads at the time.

"We were not getting along. I didn't deal with dad's death well, I was a horrific teenager. Towards the end of year 12 I remember sitting in the car with her and she was talking about her starting to date again, and I was literally like, 'I'd rather roll out of this moving car than continue to have this conversation with you.' Anyway, I totally regretted it, because I stormed out of the car and had to walk home three kilometres."

Ong says in a way he also regrets how he told his mother he was gay.

"I struggle to talk about this, because it makes me sound like the worst person ever. But I wanted to pick a fight with mum, so I sat her down and decided I was going to weaponise my coming out. I just said, 'I'm gay'. She watched for a bit and then said, 'How do you feel about going to Vietnam?'


"I thought she was going to send me to some kind of camp where they 'rehabilitate' me. Instead mum went, 'The gay community is very big in Vietnam, you can probably make a really good career there. You might become quite famous.' It made me laugh. I love my mum, we're really close now."

Ong looks back on his parent's relationship very fondly. He said there was a lot of heart between them, and they did everything in their power to be together, both sets of grandparents "totally against" the pair marrying.


"They came to Australia together, they built a family together, a business together. They were so madly in love. For me, I don't think I've always associated love or a partner with happiness. But for me happiness was always going to be the chickens, farm and the kids. I don't need a man in that picture."

Being on TV definitely has it perks, but it also has it downsides too, says Ong.

"This is amazing, but all I could remember the first time watching myself was going, 'Why do I look so overweight? What is going on with my skin? Why are my mannerisms like that? Is this why I'm single?' I was going through a breakup at the time, so that plus seeing myself on TV was horrible," he explains.

"I know it's a very superficial thing to feel. But at the time, I remember just going 'This is the reason I currently don't have love in my life.'"

Listen to this conversation on Mamamia's But Are You Happy. Post continues after audio.

Today, Ong has a "special man" in his life who he is hanging out with.

"He's not my boyfriend. It's non-monogamous. We're both travelling, not living in the same state, right now it doesn't make sense to be completely monogamous.

"I think that the act of cheating isn't the thing that is the most hurtful part, the most hurtful part is the betrayal or the lie. If you can have an open conversation with your partner, about what your needs are, you can pick out the things that your partner may not be able to provide you. Then you take away the betrayal."


In his friendship circle, plenty of Ong's mates have started having kids. He says when he sees babies it brings a smile to his face.

"I love seeing this potato that does nothing all day," he laughs. "I get jealous of all of the things that my friends have to go through, even the parts that look painful — the tantrums, the trips to the dentist, the dinners they don't want to eat. I want that."

Of course, the refugee experience of feeling pressure to succeed is something Ong can relate to though.

As he notes on But Are You Happy: "I need to keep pushing or keep working, because my mum and dad came over here to give me opportunities for me to better my life."

Ultimately, Ong says he is very content with how his life is panning out, particularly his career. He just hopes he can get the ball rolling on his familial aspirations soon too.

"I'm a pretty happy person now. Right now is the moment that I should be happy. But there's this little thing in the back that is just constantly there," he says.

"What I really want is that family and to cook for my family. Whether it be adopting, surrogacy or whatever way that I want to have children, it's not just going to happen on its own, especially for a homosexual man like me. So I really need to start dedicating some time to sit down and map it out."

You can listen to the full conversation on But Are You Happy now.

Feature Image: Supplied.

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