It must have been almost impossible for the producers of Ultimate Braai Master to edit hours and hours of footage of the first stage down to the mere 40 minutes, or so, that were finally screened on Thursday night.
I was amused by Roger’s disparaging comment about experimenting with “soggy biscuits” on the banks of the Orange River. Those biscuits were a key component of the dessert that kept our team out of the elimination, to which Roger’s under-cooked smoked chicken had almost certainly destined us. My partner in the making of those biscuits was Roxy, who is an absolute star. She has a passion for all things culinary, she works like a Trojan, and really does deserve an opportunity in the industry.
The cameras picked up the niggle between team leader Greg and Tinus, who ended up getting eliminated the following day. The origin of that ‘beef’ (as Roger would put it) was that Tinus and his braai buddy Leki had split up on the river, for the purpose of them each paddling a canoe with a member of the Chi Town team (Frank and Claire were taking a bit of strain). When Leki eventually started struggling himself, Tinus asked Greg if he could help out. The team leader’s response left no doubt of his views on the matter. Even if this was the team he was leading, it seems, it was up to the weakest links to paddle their own canoe.
The best parts of Ultimate Braai Master happened when there weren’t any cameras around. One example was our arrival at the campsite for the second stage, where we didn’t have much protection from the cold front, toilets were more than 100m from the tents, and showers were a fantasy.
After the official, filmed greeting by Justin Bonello, and a bollocking from the judges for producing such bad food on the Orange River, we were left in the dark with some potatoes, lettuce, chops, boerewors and a few boxes of random ingredients that didn’t include any kind of flavouring.
I fetched some NoMU Rubs from my braai box, Warwick raided his braai box for basil-infused olive oil, and Seb got busy with a lemon curd pudding that had a white bread ‘pastry’. Of course, Roxy got involved wherever she could, and we let Roger loose on braaing the boerewors (it’s better for everyone around him when he’s busy!).The following night, we arrived back after 7.30, and were issued with frozen, sliced mutton shanks that needed at least two hours of cooking – once they’d been defrosted. The rest of us were too exhausted to even think about cooking, but the fabulous Elaine got stuck into making us a curry, after she and I had raided our braai boxes for the necessary spices (no-one better than her to be making a curry, I have to tell you). The one thing we did have in abundance was Castle Draught, which led me to observe that this was like the braai version of Jersey or Geordie Shore. It was a good – and long – night. None of us would have chosen the adversities that were put in our way, but they were generally met with good spirit and a level of improvisation that was worthy of people challenging for the title of Ultimate Braai Master. I don’t know if the sense of community that arose amongst the competing teams will come through for viewers, but it was there, and it was a key reason why this was an extraordinary experience for us all.