The Ultimate Braai Master, a sizzling new local reality TV production, makes its debut this week.
Bar hosting the Soccer World Cup and cheering the Boks in the Rugby World Cup, there are few things that are able to unanimously unite South Africans. But one activity that we can all proudly lay claim to is sitting around the African TV – aka fire – and enjoying a good old tshisa nyama – more commonly known as a braai.
And now this South African tradition is getting the spotlight in a new reality TV cooking series, The Ultimate Braai Master. Hosted by local gourmet bush cook Justin Bonello and produced by Cooked in Africa Films, the 13-part programme sees 15 teams battling it out for the prized thongs of the ultimate braai master. Each team consists of two contestants (a braai master and their braai buddy) who undertake a gruelling 8000km culinary adventure around the country as they compete for the prize of half a million rand; a new Renault Koleos 4x4 and a Cadac BraaiMaxx. Along the way, the series showcases the beauty, diversity, unique flavours and local delicacies that characterise some of SA's best off-the-beaten track locations.
Media, celebrities and special guests were invited to Higgo House in Northcliff, Johannesburg, for a sneak peek of the show which launches on 13 September. And of course, it wouldn't be a celebration without a braai! But before guests tucked into the gourmet feast, Executive Producer Peter Gird and presenter Bonello filled us in on why South Africans are going to be glued to their TV screens every Thursday night. This was followed by a screening of the first episode of the show, which begins with a trip down the Orange River and a braai challenge set against the stark, outlandish landscape of the Richtersveld.
And for those of you are thinking, the show is only for men, think again. It was a refreshing surprise to see how many of the contestants are women. Not only that, the 15 teams also represent SA's rich diversity in terms of race and cultural backgrounds, proving that braaing has become a patriotic national pastime.
From a total of 6 400 aspirant braai master entries, Bonello and his production team whittled the teams down via a series of auditions. Finally the country's top 15 teams were selected out of a pool of 43 short-listed finalists.
Joining celebrity cook and traveller Bonello as resident judges are renowned chefs Bertus Basson and Marthinus Ferreira.
Watch the video as we chat to Justin Bonello about the show. Visit: www.ultimatebraaimaster.com to view the contestant profiles.
* The premiere of The Ultimate Braai Master, sponsored by Pick n Pay, airs Thursday, 13 September at 8pm on SABC3.