JUDGES had a tough time selecting nine wannabe braai masters at the weekend who took a step closer to winning a spot on the Ultimate Braai Master television show. The braai masters took part in the penultimate round of the regional auditions at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University in Port Elizabeth on Saturday.
The nine semifinalists were part of 21 teams who blew judges away with their creative, mouthwatering braai recipes from fig and cheese-stuffed rooster brood to banana pancakes.
The teams, consisting of a "braai master" and "braai buddy" are vying for a spot on the second season of the show hosted by "bush cook" guru and food writer Justin Bonello.
"Despite a slow start and howling winds, Port Elizabeth still managed to blow us away with some of the best dishes since the start of the auditions," Bonello said.
He said some dishes included Kudu Wellington from Braai-o-Holics and a braaied game pie from the West Coast Bros.
The finalists, who will know their fate next week, include Port Elizabeth friends Stuart Smith and Karin Krohn-Bresler.
Some of those who made an impression on the judges were BBB duo Steve Domoney and Janet Bezuidenhout from Chintsa East, and Elephant Spitbraai friends Heinrich Schlemmer and Jean-Jaques Theron from White River.
The Herald and Weekend Post executive news editor Louise Liebenberg was a judge.
She said the event was refreshing with aspiring braai masters coming up with creative dishes.
"People came from far and wide to showcase their stuff and the effort put in was absolutely amazing," she said.
Domoney and Bezuidenhout started food preparations a week before the auditions.
Bezuidenhout said they went into the competition confident.
"It feels flipping awesome. Now we wait to find out if we made it."
The other finalists were:
ıSmoke Sweat & Tears friends Chris Kastern and Simon Good from Fish Hoek;
ıWest Coast Bros siblings Etienne and Karl Gersbach from Lamberts Bay and Elands Bay respectively;
ıCoal Play couple Kate George and Jonno Proudfoot from Cape Town;
ıBraai-o-holics' husband and wife team Grant and Brenda Ballack from Knysna;
ıHuiskombuis Boys friends Kyle Hodgson and Rudi Gibbons from Cape Town; and
ıWild Ones couple Vanessa Wellstein and Haral Hilbert from the Wilderness.
Nineteen judges from the food industry, including restaurant owners to food critics and bloggers, presided over the auditions.
The final leg of the regional auditions will be held in Johannesburg on Saturday, with the final 15 teams announced early next month.
The Ultimate Braai Master will air on SABC3 on September 18 and will run until December 11.