You may remember Chef Tjaart Walraven from his vibrant and unforgettable appearances on The SA Bake Off, but this week we saw him swap the spatula for a chef’s knife as he hosted us at The Weber Grill Academ in Cape Town.
Tjaart regularly hosts entertaining and interactive events in both Cape Town and Joburg, where he teaches and guides you through a relaxing and delicious evening of cooking and tasting.
We attended a class at the Lagoon Beach Hotel, Milnerton this past week. Out of the four of us here at Food24 – two of us are trained chefs, one of us is self-professed braai master and the fourth was just there for moral support and topping up the drinks. Despite our combined experience, we learnt so much and we wanted to share with you the 7 great tips and tricks we learnt from Chef Tjaart.
1. You can cook avo on the braai
Chef Tjaart guided outside to the deck, where he introduced the different styles and sizes of the Weber grill range. We were already amazed by the beautiful setting as we watched the sunset over Cape Town, but when Tjaart lifted the hood of one of the grills we all gasped in surprise.
He was grilling avocados! Avos, I tell you! The halves were filled with a roughly chopped olive tapanade, well seasoned with herbs and a touch of vinegar. The avo was creamy and warm in the chilly evening air – and the best part? Almost no washing up!
2. We learnt how to get the most out of our Webers at home
Many of us have a Weber braai at home, or at least, we’ve used one at a friend’s house. Many of us in the class – some of us professional chefs – were amazed, shocked and delighted as Tjaart talked us through the proper techniques for lighting your Weber, how to get the best temperatures and even his tips on how he cleans his own grill. If you are an enthusiastic Weber owner, you need to attend the Weber Grill Academy.
3. Pizza on a Weber is delicious
With the Weber Pizza Stone, you can quickly and easily prepare crispy light pizzas directly from the braai. We were so impressed with the texture of the pizzas!
4. For deeper flavour, add your garlic at the end of cooking
Many of us have been taught to cook onions and garlic at the beginning of any recipe. Tjaart taught us that garlic, being chopper smaller than the onion, will burn first. If you love a stronger garlic flavour, try adding finely chopped garlic towards the end of your cooking.
5. Position your Weber correctly for the best results
When setting up your braai, pay attention to the direction of the wind. Your Weber has three legs – two with wheels and one without. You should point the leg without a wheel into the wind at all times. Keep the vents on the lid open, and point them in the same direction as the leg. This way, your fire will get a good air supply, while circulating the heat inside the braai evenly.
6. Don’t be afraid to cook fish and bread on the braai
We cooked salmon trout with ginger, garlic and herbs wrapped up in tinfoil in little parcels. The fish was succulent, juicy and jam-packed with flavour! Wow! What a great alternative if you’re cooking for pescatarians on the braai this Summer.
7. Many hands make light work
Getting your friends involved is fun, rewarding and it makes the work lighter for everyone. Delegate some of the cooking chores to friends and family at your next braai, and make it fun by getting them to follow along with a new recipe. You can even turn it into a braai contest to see who can get the best results!
Perfect for team buildings, birthday parties and even stag nights, the Weber Grill Academy classes won us over with the perfect balance of excellent planning and organisation, while still feeling relaxed and social. Not only did we learn a lot about cooking on the braai, but we also enjoyed a delicious and ample dinner all together afterwards. You can get in touch with Chef Tjaart to book a spot on one of his culinary evenings in both Cape Town and Joburg – we recommend it!