Chanel Marais and Nick Perfect are on fire.
The couple not only won the title of Ultimate Braai Master on Sunday‚ but have taken the decision to return to South Africa and open a business – a move only made possible because of the R1-million worth of prizes they won as team Salty Flames.
This is the fifth series of the awardwinning outdoor cooking show hosted by Justin Bonello.
Screened on e.tv 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.
This season’s final was an ordeal by fire. 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‚” Marais said.
“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.
The couple have spent the past six years working aboard yachts that have taken them around the world.
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.
They admitted to doing zero preparation for the series.
“We had 10 days to play around during the auditions‚” Marais said‚ adding that they did a lot of preparation during their 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 said he was excited the show had resulted in two South Africans coming home.
“The show has changed their lives forever,” he said.
The couple is 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.”