Braai the beloved country: top tips from SA’s braai masters

From Polokwane to Paarl, from Durban to De Doorns, the one thing that unites food-loving South Africans is a good old braai. Here a few meat-loving locals share their secret spots, favourite recipes and dream braai guests.

Justin Bonello
TV chef, host of The Ultimate Braai Master and cookbook author

My braai philosophy is there are no bad cooks (or braaiers), just friends who aren’t hungry enough!
Favourite cut of meat? It’s a toss-up between a lovely Karoo lamb chop and a fillet. The Karoo lamb chop, because you get to bite into crispy fat, tender, juicy meat with that herby flavour of the Karoo bossies. The fillet, because it’s so easy to do and always impresses your mates.
Favourite side dishes?My wife’s beetroot and butternut salad or my very simple bean salad.
The most chops you’ve ever consumed in one sitting? I’m embarrassed to say it, but four. And yes, it was worth every bite.
My five fantasy braai guests are the late, great Keith Floyd; Marco Polo (we can swap travel stories around the fire); Kingsley Holgate (he’s a great raconteur and he’d bring his special stash of liquid refreshments); Khaleesi from Game of Thrones and Cameron Diaz (in the Superman underwear from Charlie’s Angels). But in all honesty, my dream braai is with my family and close friends.
Favourite steak restaurants? In Cape Town it’s Hussar Grill, Nelson’s Eye  (although they have grain-fed beef on their menu, which I don’t like) and The Local Grill in JHB.

Angus McIntosh
Biodynamic student, grass farmer and carbon sequestrator at Spier and winner of an 2013 Eat Out DStv Food Network Produce Award in the organic/free-range category.

What is your braai philosophy? Local is lekker.
The perfect braaiis at home, with grass-fed meat, Devil’s Peak beer and special braaibroodjies made with bread from the Oude Bank Bakkerij, tomatoes from ZZ2 and Rockwood Cheese from Buffalo Ridge.
Favourite cut of meat? Six-week dry-aged prime rib. The fat, when properly cooked (by the chef at Carne SA, especially) blends deliciously with the meat.
Favourite side dish? Lamb chops.
The most chops you’ve ever consumed in one sitting? 12.
Favourite steakhouse? Carne SA. I order the La Fiorentina all for myself.

Kamini Pather
Food blogger and winner of MasterChef SA Season 2

What is your braai philosophy? Braais are supposed to be fun days spent out by the pool, in the sunshine, with your mates. The less you have to do on the day, the more time you can spend with your people. Remember to keep it simple.
The perfect braai always includes spicy lamb sausages, pork riblets and, of course, some Texan steak. Add a garlic-studded loaf with a leafy salad and some cold beer and el presto – perfection. Fish braais are also a firm favourite of mine. Be sure to check the SASSI list, though. You don’t want to be eating our endangered swimmers.
Favourite butchery? I love it when I can make an order via twitter. Both Frankie Fenner and Gogo’s Deli have that service and they’re committed to consciously reared meat.
The most chops you’ve ever consumed in one sitting? My pansy total of three probably won’t impress anyone.
My five fantasy braai guests are Gordon Ramsay (obviously), Sophie Dahl, Giorgio Nava, Andy Fenner and Turanga Leela. (You did say fantasy…)
Favourite steakhouses? Joop’s Place in Durban for the garlic flambéed fillet with mushroom and brandy sauce; Carne SA for the fresh and luxurious tartare; and El Burro (even thought it isn’t a steakhouse) for noteworthy rib-eye with chipotle butter.

Mahlatse ‘Chiliboy’ Ralepelle
Springbok rugby player

What is your braai philosophy? I never over-cook my meat.
The perfect braai ishaving meat and boerewors and inviting a few mates around with a coolant in your hand.
South African braais are boerewors, vleis and pap and sous.
Favourite butchery? The one close to home, Groenkloof Butchery.
Favourite cut of meat? Fillet and T-bone. They’re easier to make tender and they stay juicy.
Favourite side dish? A fresh Greek salad.
The most chops you’ve ever consumed in one sitting? 15.
My five fantasy braai guests are Barack Obama, Mohammed Ali, Patrice Motsepe, 50cent and Bill Gates.
Favourite steakhouses? Chesanyama, The Butcher Shop & Grill and Turn ‘n Tender.

Reuben Riffel
Celebrity chef, restaurateur at Reuben’s and author of Braai: Reuben on Fire

Your braai philosophy? I think of the braai as an extra ingredient. It’s the original way of cooking food.
South African braais are the unofficial parliament with better food and better debates.
Favourite butchery? Bill Riley and Ryan Boon.
Favourite cut of meat? Prime rib. It has beautiful flavour, the presence of some tasty fat and the opportunity to gnaw on some bone.
Favourite side dish? A delicious sweet-and-sour five bean salad.
The most chops you’ve ever consumed in one sitting? Six… or maybe 10.
My five fantasy braai guests are the Beatles or U2. A braai without music should not happen.
Favourite steakhouses? Carne SA  – Giorgio knows his stuff and the focus is mainly on the quality of the meat and not so much on sauces. The Grillhouse – well matured steaks; the fillet on the bone is my favourite. They manage to get that real braai flavour into their meat.

Anél Potgieter
Blogger at and winner of the Best Local Food Blog at the 2013 Eat Out DStv Food Network Produce Awards

Your braai philosophy? Keep it simple. Use the best meat and freshest ingredients.  Temperature and timing are everything – and never braai anything without a good glass of wine in hand.
The perfect braai always starts with real boerewors and my mom’s homemade mustard; then medium-rare rib-eye steak with garlic butter served with my braaibroodjies; and the long-favoured Potgieter salad. With a chilled bottle of champers or rosé and a few cold beers, of course.
Favourite butchery? Frankie Fenner and Monte Vista Butchery.
Favourite side dish? I always long for stywe pap and my mom’s kerriesous. It is one of those childhood memories that will never leave me.
Favourite steakhouses? Carne SA in Cape Town. I love the place – they have a deep sense of respect for the meat they serve. Also, The Local Grill in Parktown. I love Steve Maresch’s philosophy about meat and life.
Favourite place for shisa nyama? Nothing beats Mzoli’s for atmosphere, particularly on a summer Saturday or Sunday afternoon. The sense of community, fun and the smell are just amazing!

Braai another day

No dry wood at home? Head to one of these places for excellent shisa nyama.

Cape Town and surrounds
aMadoda – 021 447 2133
Bosduifklip – 027 432 2735
Kwa-Maphindi (Nyanga) – 021 386 0582
Muisbosskerm – 027 432 1017
Mzoli’s – 021 638 1355

Afro’s – 031 765 6365
The Braai Ranch – 082 467 0173
Max’s Lifestyle – 031 906 1393

Joburg and surrounds
Endawei Shisa Nyama and Car Wash – 011 070 9768
Shisa Nyama – 011 312 3121

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