Shisa nyamas (informal braais, often near a butchery) these days have become social locations where patrons congregate to get their cars washed and be merry on Sunday afternoons. Mzolis in Cape Town essentially became famous for its tasty braai meat, but soon evolved into a buzzing spot replete with European tourists every Sunday.
South Africa’s most popular shisa nyama spots will gather in one space and return to their original raison d’etre in KwaThema, Springs, this Saturday. Nando’s Retail Division has put out a challenge to 12 of South Africa’s top shisa nyama cooks. These grill masters will compete against each other for a R25 000 cash prize and an all-expenses paid opportunity to host the 2014 Shisa Nyama Championship.
Each participant will have their own stand where they will showcase their grilling skills. Each one is expected to create a special dish, incorporating one or more of the Nando’s Peri-Peri Sauces. This will be the main dish they will be judged on.
A panel of judges will determine the winner based on taste and presentation. This will follow a blind judging process, which means that the judges won’t know who prepared the dish.
Participants will come from KwaMzoli (Gugulethu, Cape Town), KwaMax (Umlazi, KwaZulu-Natal), Endaweni (Vosloorus, Gauteng), Joe’s Butchery (Alexander, Gauteng), Corner Fresh (Alexander, Gauteng) Phillip’s Place (Tembisa, Gauteng), Monateng Cafe (Sebokeng, Vaal, Gauteng), Roadhouse (Dobsonville, Gauteng), Msiza Butchery (Tsakane, Gauteng) Bahama bar (KwaThema, Gauteng) Pulema (Daveyton, Gauteng) and Chillex (Port Elizabeth). These names are reputable – they are probably the first venues locals will mention to visiting parties looking for hangout spots.
As the sole representative of the Eastern Cape, Chillex owner Siyabulela Dandala is not intimidated by the big city boys.
“We are busy looking at ways in which to bring the best out of our offering,” Dandala says.
“I have been around the block a bit, visiting places like Mzolis, KwaMax, Bizzy Corner and everywhere, and I can tell you that we won’t come second best to anyone. What will be key for us will be presentation because we will be away from our hub and going to a foreign environment. But we will be at our best, as we look at making things interesting with the lamb dish we will be preparing.”
He understands that meat often doesn’t take centre stage, and is glad it is on the agenda again.
“The vibe at shisa nyamas across the country is a signature of the township,” Dandala adds.
“But for us the meat and what the customer wants is paramount and this will be showcased at the competition. We have our special sauce and I am sure that will seal the victory for us.”