King of coals lighting fires around the country

By Kathryn Kimberley

WITH Heritage Day a few days away, braai cooking maestro Jan Scannell is dishing out advice aplenty – the most important tidbit being if you want the perfect dop ’n chop you need to start preparations soon.

Scannell –  better known as “Jan Braai” – started a national initiative in 2007 with the aim of uniting South Africans on Heritage Day.

Braaing maestro Jan Scannell dishes out free, expert adviceThis year he is striving to take it even further by getting at least one person in every country in the world to light a fire on September 24.

Brazil, the US, Russia, Egypt, Germany, India, Thailand, Tanzania, Namibia and China have already pledged their support on the National Braai Day Facebook page.

“We anticipate problems in pinning down braaiers in Kazakhstan and places like Mongolia.

“But we will keep on pushing until we have the entire world gathered around the fires,” Scannell said.

He was in Nelson Mandela Bay on Saturday, September 15, to light a fire as part of his countrywide Braai Tour.
He was at Crossways Country Kitchen, near Van Staden’s, on Saturday to braai alongside  in-house chef Trevor Steyn, who completed his apprenticeship under UK celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay.

“Nine braais in nine provinces in nine days. It is going to be hectic,” Scannell said. “Some of my most memorable braais have been in the Eastern Cape and particularly PE, so I am excited.”

Scannell says that if you want your friends to attend your braai, not the next-door neighbour’s, start preparing now.

“You need to purchase wood as soon as possible so that it is dry.

“Rooikrans wood is my favourite but black wattle is also good and is available everywhere.

“Also ensure that you buy your meat from a trusted butcher who will carefully prepare it. You want your steak dry-aged, meaning it must be a cut from a piece of meat hung in a cold-room at about 2°C.

“This way it will be more concentrated and richer in flavour.”

He said the Eastern Cape had some of the tastiest meat in the country.

“If the view is nice I might start by having a G&T while the fire is burning and the sun is setting. We are extremely blessed in South Africa with good wine so I obviously also drink lots of it.”

Those who are health conscious or do not eat meat need not despair. Scannell insists braais can be enjoyed by everyone.

“Braaing can be healthy because the fat drips out when you braai.”

He said that vegetarians could enjoy potatoes and vegetables  on the coals.


This is a shortened version of an article that appeared in the print edition of the Weekend Post on Saturday, September 15, 2012.

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