It was 13th time lucky for SA's official new boerewors champion
Vikash Bachu, a 'veteran' of the annual Shoprite Checkers Championship Boerewors competition, tells us what gave his wors the winning edge this year
Thousands of entrants submitted their recipes for SA’s beloved traditional sausage, boerewors, for the annual Shoprite Checkers Championship Boerewors competition.
Among them was a competition “veteran” — butcher Vikash Bachu from Ladysmith, KwaZulu-Natal — who had entered 12 times previously before being crowned 2021’s ultimate boerie champion.
You’ll get the chance to taste Bachu’s acclaimed wors for yourself when it goes on sale in Shoprite and Checkers stores from Friday.
We caught up with him to find out what he thinks gave his wors recipe the winning edge this time around:
You’ve entered the competition 12 times, so 13 must be your lucky number. What was different about your recipe this year?
I have been entering the competition since 2003. I did miss a few years between now and then, but my recipe has really come a long way from when I first entered.
The recipe I entered this year has a well-balanced combination of flavours, uses the best A-grade meat and has the perfect ratio of meat and fat to ensure that it is juicy.
What made you choose a career as a butcher?
I come from a home with a single mother with three other siblings. During my later high school years, I had a holiday job at the local butchery and was able to operate all the butchery equipment before I had even completed my matric. Due to financial circumstances, I couldn’t study further and continued working in the butchery full-time.
I joined Shoprite as a boerewors maker in 2003 and was blown away by the vast varieties of products and that’s when I learnt what a proper boerewors was all about.
I worked hard, working my way up the ranks until I was promoted to a regional manager in 2010 at age 27. I’ve been in this position for 11 years now.
The competition is sponsored by Shoprite Checkers, is it only open to their employees?
Not at all, the aim of the competition is to find the best boerewors recipe in the country and it’s open to anybody who can make boerewors.
The process works like this: on entering, everyone is given an entry number and the recipes and boerewors are judged according to that number rather than the entrants’ names, which makes it fair to everyone. The judging is done by the SA Chefs Association which brings crucial credibility to the process.
This year, because of Covid-19 restrictions, two chefs from the association made up the finalists' boerewors exactly to their recipes, and this wors was then presented the judges.
Boerewors is a prized part of our food culture — the recipe for it even appears in the Government Gazette. Why do you believe it is such a South African favourite?
Boerewors is part of our heritage and it is so very versatile. There are so many different meals that can be prepared from boerewors whether it’s pap and wors, boerie rolls, or using boerewors as the main protein in your salad. It is also a very quick meal to prepare for the modern, working consumer.
What is the most unusual recipe you’ve used boerewors in that you have enjoyed?
I have found that the boerewors filling makes beautiful burger patties, frikadelles or kebabs. My wife uses boerewors mince to make cottage pie.
What is the very best way to cook boerewors?
My preferred way of cooking boerewors is to braai it over the coals of a medium-heat fire for three minutes on either side, then flip it every minute until it is cooked through. Don’t overcook boerewors and never puncture the casing as you will lose all the juices and end up with dry wors.
What was your prize?
The main prize was a Toyota Fortuner. However, as the meat market regional manager of a store, the pride of knowing that my recipe was the championship boerewors recipe for the year — and that the entire country will be able to purchase and enjoy my wors — is the ultimate reward.
Will you be entering the competition again next year?
I’d like to, but I will also encourage more of my colleagues and team members to enter and I will be focusing on helping them improve their recipes.