Australian Survivor contestant Khanh Ong’s secret weapons

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MasterChef star Khanh Ong went into the latest season of Australian Survivor with some advantages — and being able to cook was only one of them.

For former MasterChef contestant and skilled chef Khanh Ong, who owns the popular South-East Asian restaurant The George On Collins in Melbourne, becoming a player on Australian Survivor 2022: Blood v Water must have thrown up some serious challenges — but none more challenging than going from a diet of fine cuisine to one of bugs and beans.

“I’m a fan of Survivor so I knew what I was getting into and there was nothing I wasn’t prepared to do,” laughs Ong.

Despite being incredibly familiar with Survivor, the fitness fanatic — who has garnered a reputation as a “challenge beast” on the show — found the experience of competing to be even tougher than he had anticipated.

“It turned out to be a lot harder than I thought it would be,” he says.

“With the cooking in particular, I thought it’d take an hour tops, but it took so long to cook out there. I didn’t account for that at all.

“I see food as good for morale, though, so even though we mostly just ate rice and beans, I was trying to figure out new ways to cook them every day to make people happier, which I figured would give me a greater chance of staying. I tried my best to keep it interesting.”

Ong is also committed to regular fitness training, which he does for two to three hours every day, which undoubtedly gave him another edge on the show.

“My sister [Amy Ong, who also appears on the show] and I do rock climbing every Monday as a brother-sister bonding thing, which made challenges involving climbing ropes a lot easier to deal with,” he says.

“I also do pilates regularly which really helped with my stability and endurance and core strength. I was just lucky that I had those things up my sleeve.”

As for goals for 2022, Ong’s involves a dedication to his regular fitness routine.

“I made a decision that, no matter what I’ve done the night before, I have to go and do at least one workout the day after. It can be hard or easy, I just need to do something active,” he says.

“I can be out until 3am with a group of 20 mates, but the next day, I still have to do that workout. Usually it’ll be swimming, because that’s all I can deal with.”

Khanh Ong on…

Mindfulness

“There’s 100 per cent a link between exercise and good mental health. I do yoga three times a week and without that I’d go insane and be a big ball of stress. I’ll either do an easy class where you’re mainly meditating, or the hard class, where you’re really working your body. I really need that time to switch off.”

Diet

“I can’t restrain myself from eating – I’m always cooking, always in the kitchen, and love good food. Food for me is indulgent, so I’m not about stopping myself from eating anything. Because of that, I have to train harder.”

Exercise

“I get bored easily, so it’s all about mixing it up. I do sessions on a climbing machine, Strong Pilates, which is a combination of pilates and using a rowing machine, so you’re working on strength and stability, but also throwing in some full-on cardio, as well as yoga and EMS training, where you do three squats, but it feels like you’ve done 300!”

Sleep

“I’m a believer in needing a good night’s sleep, but I’m one of these people who can function well on five-and-a-half hours of sleep a night. Minimal sleep doesn’t affect me – that’s just how I function.”

Australian Survivor: Blood v Water airs on 10 Sunday to Tuesday

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