Everything that Ralph Farmer knows about cooking, his grandmother, Ouma Bettie, taught him.
Ralph and his team mate Pieter Malan are one of the three finalist teams in the very popular Kokkedoor cooking reality shows on KykNet. The winning team will be announced during the grande finale on 10 October.
Ralph grew up in New York, Paarl East, and attended William Lloyd Primary School until grade 7 after which he went Paulus Joubert Senior Secondary and later moved to Noorder Paarl High School.
The eldest of three, Ralph describes the household he grew up in as loving, with stern grandparents that taught him to respect others. Ralph, his brother, sister and four other cousins were cared for by their grandparents, where they shared a one bedroom, one bathroom house and were taught to get by with the little they had, and where, he says, they were always happy.
It was here, in the heart of Paarl, where Ralph was taught how to peel potatoes, kneed dough and cut meat. Ralph says, “My grandmother, Ouma Bettie, taught me how to cook at a very young age. It was more of a lesson she gave me on how to take care of myself when I became older,” he says.
Ralph immediately fell in love with Kokkedoor after watching the second season. “The food, the people, the set and locations they use to cook in interested me. It had such a familiar feel to it,” says Ralph.
But he never had the guts to enter this competition.
A year after meeting his fiancé Martin Boyder, Martin secretly signed Ralph up for the third season of Kokkedoor, knowing that Ralph had a true love and talent for food.
Ralph says he was both furious and happy when he found out about this, but after the idea of taking part in the show began to grow on him, he realised that this is a chance to show the country what he could do purely for the love of food and people.
According to Ralph, everything suddenly started happening all at once. “First the audition and then some other tests just to qualify. Before I knew it, I received a call a few weeks later from the show, telling me I had been selected to join the competition in Cape Town.”
He describes the Kokkedoor experience as both nerve-wracking and crazy. “I met so many wonderful, friendly, loving people, who all shared the same dream and passion for food.
“It was actually quite sad to say goodbye to those who left the competition.”
Ralph has had no formal cooking training and he says that one requires a a great deal of skill and determination to take part in the show.
He says ouma Bettie was a true power woman and someone he always aspired to be like when he was younger.
His grandma also offered comfort and guidance to everyone.
The fondest memory Ralph has of his life in Paarl, is that when snow fell on the Drakenstein mountains, he knew that his grandmother would either bake vetkoek or bread, comfort food against the cold.
He is currently living on the West Rand in Krugersdorp, and is the floor manager of a well-known hunting safari and outdoor store.
Ralph says that the possibility of turning cooking into a career, would be a dream come true.
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