Cross your tongs and hope to braai


Words & Photos: Meghan Mccabe

For the second year running, the Indaba Hotel in Johannesburg played host to the most fantastic, lip smacking and delicious outdoor cooking. The gorgeous smells that emanated from the pots and pans belonged to the braai teams taking part in first round of regional auditions for the third season of the reality TV series, Ultimate Braai Master, held on Saturday 8 March 2014.

Photos by: Meghan Mccabe

Looking to secure one of just 15 spots available and make it into the third season of the Ultimate Braai Master competition, Gauteng's toughest and most creative braai teams were put through their paces by South Africa’s favourite gourmet bush cook, Justin Bonello, the sponsors and team of judges. They were looking for those foodies who were going to continue to shatter the stereotype of what can be made on an outdoor flame.

There were traditional potjie dishes on offer, as well as some very unusual dishes that the judges had the privilege of tasting. After the teams had cooked up a storm, I had the opportunity to listen in as the judges, who consisted of our country’s finest chef’s, food bloggers and journalists, deliberated on which teams had the perfect taste, flair and attitude to carry on in this epic journey. Peter Kird, the head judge, was extremely impressed with the tenacity and inventiveness of some of the teams.

Having watched plenty of cooking shows on TV, I've always expected the chefs to be really harsh and critical. Yes, it’s definitely needed in this game, but listening to them actually amazed me. They commented on the taste, texture and presentation, but there was one team that caught their eye because of how 'humble' and unassuming they were. With just a plastic table and a simple South African dish, The Kumaloes managed to impress the judges, but what really connected with the judges was how 'in love' these contestants were.

Before announcing which 19 teams would go through to the second cook-off, where they would have to once again impress the judges with their culinary expertise, there were a number of fun awards given out. These awards ranged from the earliest arrivals that morning and best gees to the best dressed, best display and the most imaginative dish.

I spoke to the Old Guys Rule team about how they felt about the competition and pressure, and they replied that dealing with the pressure comes with age, especially if you have a military background. This was the first cooking contest they've entered and are ready to rough it all the way. I also caught up with the Simple Sisters team, who were definitely ready to party in their pink tutus and shocking pink afros.

So after a long and gruelling day of cooking, and ultimately trying to secure their spot in the finals of the Gauteng leg, the following teams excelled in Saturday's cook off and were eager to start planning their menu for Sunday, the second leg of the cook-off.
• Team Da Vans
• Team Braai Code
• Team Ala Mofepe
• Team Pot en Deksel
• Team Sugar and Spice
• Team Sophia Tongs
• Team X-Men
• Team Afro Thunda
• Team Le Gwaz
• Team Tong in Cheek
• Team The Khumalo’s
• Team Old Guys Rule
• Team Couzzies
• Team Simunye
• Team Charcoal Chix
• Team Mixed Herbs Roasted Chicken
• Team Sekelbos
• Team Kaiings and Afval
• Team Simply Sisters

Congratulations to the 19 teams that made it through to the second round of the Johannesburg auditions! You are now one step closer to going on an epic 70 day, 9 000 km adventure braai trip of a lifetime, and for the last team standing, winning R500 000 cash, a NEW Renault Duster valued at R260 000 and a host of other prizes!

Overall, it had been a fun day for all and definitely a great start for the qualifying teams that have an epic culinary adventure ahead of them.