John Grundlingh and his buddy Piet Marais like to braai. These two keen surfers from South Africa’s West Coast decided to join their culinary skills and enter SA’s Ultimate Braai Master. The competition follows 13 teams on a 60 day, 7000km journey of a lifetime across the length and breadth of South Africa. Their team name on SA’s Ultimate Braai Master (TV show) was Weskus Annas. They won the comp last year which ended in July in the Karoo, and are now being flown to the USA to compete internationally in the World Food Championships.
Zigzag: First off, you guys been getting any surf since the comp ended?
John: Yes bru. I actually had some awesome surf in Transkei while we were there for 2 weeks. They actually showed me surfing in the program. So many secret surf spots in Transkei. Then I had a few good sessions on the East London leg and even better sessions while we were in Durban. So it was like a surf trip on it’s own and that is why I kept my cool for the comp. I had the privilege to chill and surf while the other contestants worried too much about the upcoming challenges.
John’s surf selfie
Looking back, what was the experience of doing the Braai Masters like? The ups, the downs, what was toughest and what was most rewarding?
The Ultimate Braai Master experience is out of this world and hands down the best thing I have done in my life. What I have learned the most out of this show was to make really good food that can actually be served in restaurants. Before the show I was just a cook with some good seafood tricks. Then secondly, to see our beautiful South Africa. I usually go and surf overseas every second year for a month when I have holidays, but after surfing right around our coast, I will definitively plans a few more local trips.
I definitively enjoyed traveling the whole of South Africa with our 4×4 and doing adventuring at each leg. The downs, seeing the really good friends you make on the two month tour leave week after week, but there could be only one winner!
The toughest challenge was a lamb spit braai which we had to do in the middle of the day in the Karroo on open fires and smoke all around you. I got dehydrated after 4 hours of standing in the sun and not being able to see from all the smoke. We had to continuously turn the lamb every 15 minutes, not to burn it and the manual labour for five hours in blistering sun was definitively toughest. The medic had to come and hydrate me again. I Almost pasted out.
Most rewarding was WINNING Ultimate Braai Master!
John and his ‘mielie brood’.
As two surfers from the west coast, going into something like this, how did you fancy your chances of winning?
Piet and I previously did season three and we both fell out early, in separate teams. We became good friends on last year’s TV show and after coming home we had a few surf trips up the coast with our mates and while braaing one night on the beach I told him that we should hook up as a new team ‘Weskus Annas’ and combine our team names from the previous year. It bettered our chances to come in again and show South Africa that we deserve to win. We knew we had the skill to win it and came prepared this time. The main thing is to stay chilled and control the heat. Making all your food on the fire in rain, wind or what ever nature throws at you, is the most difficult, but being a surfer and camping and making your food on fire almost each weekend did really give us the edge!
What was the date that you guys actually won the comp, and how did it feel?
The Comp ended in the Karoo at Gariep Dam (Freestate) on the 2nd July 2015. The show then only got viewed in September last year on E-TV until December when we got announced as the Winners of the Ultimate Braai Master! It is really a dream come true and has opened a whole new world for me. After doing a few of my seafood tricks on fire last year on the show, SASSI/WWF (Southern African Sustainable Seafood Initiative) phoned me and asked if I could be their Celebrity Braai Ambassador and today I’m doing a lot of charity braais and telling people about sustainable fishing and how to save our oceans for the next generations. It is a cause worth fighting for and which is very close to all our surfers hearts. Please check out my page ‘WESKUS ANNAS’ for our next event or go to www.wwf.org.za/sassi for more info on listed fish.
What did you win and what’s the deal with the international comp now?
Half a mil cash, a new Suzuki 4×4 Crossover and the one month trip to the USA to the World Food Championships where we can win another few mil! That is really the ultimate way of testing your culinary skills and your food skills against the world’s best chefs. It will be the best food experience that anyone could have and then to top it off also surf the USA! I have only surfed South America before, so ya it’s gonna be epic to get that freebie aswell. Not a lot of South Africans know about this. Check it out www.worldfoodchampionships.com.
John and Piet, all smiles.
Cape Gateway Show
Okay time for a fun one. You’re stranded on a random stretch of coast, you’re allowed two items for survival. What would they be and what would your survival strategy be?
I will firstly take my surfboard, because I will die if I could not surf and I could use the surfboard as a sunshield as not to die from the heat. You can also lick the dew of the board in the morning for water. Secondly I would take my speargun and live out of the ocean and use my surfboard fins as knives to gut my fish.
You planning on bringing back the big win to SA from the USA?
Piet actually does smoking meat for a living and I just bought one from him to practice on. We also do smoking at venues on weekends, so we have our planning done to smoke with our flavors in America and show them how it’s done. Watch this space!
Any thanks/shout outs?
I would just like to thank Granbuild my company where I’m a Project Manager, where they gave me off to follow my dreams and then my beautiful wife Carla who has been keeping me motivated till the end. Carla and I are also in talks to start a new TV series on Via and other TV stations where I want to promote sustainable fishing. Where I want to show people how to forage and prep seafood fresh off the rocks and then have lunch at my house in Grotto Bay Private Nature reserve. I also have my own little secret surf spots in front of my pozi! A little piece of heaven! Weskus is die Beskus! Special thanks to the West Coast people for all the support, especially my surf buddies from West Coast Boardriders in Bloubergstrand where I’m a member.
Thanks for the support and definitively come braai and surf with me on the West Coast.
Cape Infanta Kob
SA Ultimate Braai Master Highlights
Some of John’s winning recipes:
Snoek pate Taco
For the pate:
Once you’ve smoked the Snoek in a Kassie, flake the fish, removing any bones. Combine with the rest of the ingredients and pop into the fridge to cool down.
For the Ceviche:
Combine all the ingredients and leave the ceviche in the fridge for an hour to marinate.
1 Avo, minced
1 Garlic Clove, minced
1 Red Onion, chopped
1 Red Chilli, chopped
1 Lime, juiced
Salt & Pepper, to taste
Simply combine and leave in the fridge until you’re going to serve.
1 Cabbage, finely sliced
Salt and Black Pepper, to taste
A glug of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Combine and refrigerate.
Or try our desert made on the fire.
Prep Time 30 min
Cooking Time 1hr 30min
Spiced Pastry Cream
Slowly heat the milk and the spices over moderate coals, remove from the heat and leave to infuse for 30 minutes. Cream the sugar, flour and egg together then mix into the milk. Strain into a saucepan then slowly bring to the boil stirring constantly and set aside once thickened.
20 g Sugar
Grill the bananas in their skin till they split open. Peel and halve the bananas, sprinkle with sugar and grill open side down until well browned then set aside.
Smoked Pineapple in Spiced Butterscotch Sauce:
Grill the pineapple on the open fire until browned. Place in a tray with a burning ember and cover with foil to infuse and smoke for 30 minutes. Meanwhile simmer the rest of the ingredients over moderate coals and reduce by two thirds. Strain out the spices and glaze the pineapple. Set aside extra sauce.
Rub the butter into the flour, season then lightly mix in the egg and cream with a little water (if necessary) to form a dough. Roll out into two discs and mash two bananas in with a little butterscotch sauce. Fold into half-moons, crimp with a fork and shallow fry in coconut oil until crispy. Repeat until all the dough and banana has been used up.
100 g Flour
50 g Butter
20 g Sugar
20 g Coconut
Rub all the ingredients together roughly then bake in a Ketla ’till crisp and browned, then set aside.
Place a dollop of pastry cream in the middle of a plate with a banana on one side and pineapple on the other. Put an empanada on one end, sprinkle with crumble mix and drizzle with the butterscotch sauce.