‘Our strength was thinking out the box’‚ say braai master winners

01 May 2017 - 15:38 By Shelley Seid
Super-yacht travellers Chanel Marais and Nick Perfect.
Super-yacht travellers Chanel Marais and Nick Perfect.
Image: Louis Hiemstra

Chanel Marais and Nick Perfect are on fire.

The couple not only won the title of Ultimate Braai Master on Sunday evening‚ but have taken the decision to return to South Africa and open a business – a move only made possible because of the million rand worth of prizes they won as team Salty Flames. (They've spent the past six years working aboard yachts that have taken them around the world.)

This is the fifth series of the award winning outdoor cooking show hosted by Justin Bonello. Screened on etv every Sunday for the past 13 weeks‚ 10 teams of two travelled around the country competing against each other by cooking a range of dishes on an open flame.

Salty Flames credited their potjie and their lamb spit as the dishes that made them too hot to handle and put them ahead of teams Pretty Griddy and Mutton Heads in the finals of the popular series. This season’s final was an ordeal by fire.

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A tropical storm put an end to filming midway through and the teams had to pick up where they had left off two weeks later.

“They threw quickfire challenges at us for eight hours straight‚” said Marais‚ “Before we had plated the last we were busy with the next. I didn’t even have time to drink water.”

Bonello‚ who is also the producer of the show‚ believes that Salty Flames were the strongest at “playing the game”.

“They might not have been the strongest cooks at the outset but they worked on the rest of the teams psychologically and played themselves into a winning position.”

Salty Flames‚ named for their time spent on the sea‚ won R400‚000 in cash‚ R200‚000 in vouchers from Game Stores and a Suzuki Grand Vitara worth R400‚000.

Both were born in South Africa but Marais grew up in Dubai and Perfect moved with his family to the UK when he was 13.

Marais and Perfect admitted to doing “zero preparation” for the series. “We had 10 days to play around during the auditions‚” said Marais‚ “and we did a lot of preparation during our drives from one location to the next. We researched mainly techniques and temperatures and how particular food reacts to fire.

“I think our strength was that we thought outside the box. There were teams of professional chefs but they thought in the box. We went off on tangents and experimented.”

Bonello says he is excited that the show has resulted in two South Africans coming home and their putting faith back in South Africa. “The show has changed their lives forever.”

The couple is currently in Port Elizabeth getting their mobile food trailer ready. They plan to settle in Cape Town in July‚ and specialise in smoked products.

“If we had not won we would have had to go back to yachting. Now we have some financial stability. We are keen to introduce our brand to the country - we think our smoked cheeses and smoked sauces will be unique.”

Entry forms for the Ultimate Braai Master season 6 are available online. “Contestants will be under even more pressure‚” says Bonello‚ “My job is to apply five seasons of learning and then stir the pot.” - TMG Digital/TimesLIVE