The Fifth Annual Potjie Cook-off in Siavonga, Zambia

Sara Drawwater
21 July 2014
Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, to the fifth ever Potjie Cook-off at the wonderful Eagles Rest in Siavonga! I’m your host with the most roast, Benny Blow! This year’s competition promises to be more…

Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, to the fifth ever Potjie Cook-off at the wonderful Eagles Rest in Siavonga! I’m your host with the most roast, Benny Blow! This year’s competition promises to be more heated than ever before, we have a spicy blend of contestants! Haha, yes, I can’t wait to see — and taste! — what everybody here will be cooking!

What’s that? You don’t know what a Potjie is? Well, a Potjie (pronounced poi-ki), is a delicious traditional South African stew, prepared outdoors in a cast iron, three legged pot. The meat, that could be anything from biltong to pork, is added first and slow cooked in a melting pot of culinary goodness! Just thinking about it is making my mouth water! Today, our contestants will be cooking with lamb. Let’s see what they have going on here.

Here we have Team One — Peter and his son and sous-chef Ryan. What do you guys have in there, Peter?

“Paprika, tomatoes, garlic… this is more of a goulash than anything else — goes with the weather.”

I see! And what do you think your chances are of winning today’s competition?

“Heheh, I’m really just cooking what I feel like eating today. I’m not really cooking to win the competition.”

Thanks a lot Peter! All the best with your goulash!

Oh, it’s a grand day to be cooking today! Can you hear that?… That’s the sound of the water whispering sweet nothings to the sandy banks of Lake Kariba, something you don’t hear in the city. But it’s a little chilli out here today and the sun seems to have taken some time off.

Another person who seems to have taken time off from their usual duties is Paul Moonga! He’s part of the Eagles Rest restaurant staff and he and Justin make up Team Four. Oh, they’ll have to serve something special seeing as Eagles is hosting this event!

And over here we have Crystal with a collage of bright coloured peppers. I see some yellow and red, what can you tell us about this Potjie?

“I’ve just heard that someone else found the same recipe!”

Oh my! So what are you going to do differently?

“Put lots of gin in it!”

Well, don’t be too GINerous with it haha! We only want our judges intoxicated by flavour!Everyone seems to be having a great time here. I see so much variety and wonderful ingredients. But before we can see more contestants and their master chef skills, a word from our sponsors.

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Aaaand we’re back! If you just tuned in, we’re here in Siavonga at the fifth ever Potjie Competition! Who do we have here? Why, it’s Picard the head chef at Lake Safari Lodge! It seems the stew to this plot just thickened! And what’s this? His pot is huge! Looks like something from a witch’s kitchen. Picard, what do you have steaming in there?

“This is a red wine and tomato potjie. Sonja here is helping me out. It has some cauliflower and carrots…potatoes…But this is top secret!”

Aah, yes, I like that, Sonja! Worry not; I will not divulge any savoury secrets! Looks like Team Three is doing pretty well. Let’s see what Team Five has on their fire.

“We’re making a human Potjie.”

That is erm, different. What’s your name mister flesh searing saucier?

“Jarell Thompson. And this lovely lady here is Natalie. We’re Team Evil.”

Oho! Strange mix of contestants we have today! And even stranger is the mix in your pot! You have some Castle Lager in it?

“Yes. And our secret ingredient is human flesh. So don’t be surprised if you find some teeth in it.”

Hehehe, I’m pretty sure your meal will be FILLING!

Moving along from those crazy cannibals, we have here another professional chef, Alfred from the Bay Hotel. Why, he even came dressed in full chef’s garb.

Alfred and Joseph here make up Team Seven. They have here a can of cubed tomatoes, rosemary, white mushrooms and even flour. Whuchu got cooking there, doc?

“Lamb with dumplings.”

Ooh, very nice. I’m sure you’ll whip up some fancy culinary creation for our cravings!Now we’ll take a short break and we’ll be back with more tasty Potjie activity and actually get to taste the different recipes! Back in a finger lick!

Hi! My name is Danie and this is Premil, we’re Team Eight and we’re giving a little Potjie history for all you viewers at home! This traditional dish descended from the Voortrekker people that migrated through South Africa. It was prepared using sheep or cattle and strictly speaking, the Potjie is not supposed to be stirred. The Voortrekkers would have a good old fashioned cook out to relax at night after a long day’s nomadic activity. That’s all from us! Hope you have a great time!

Welcome back! I just got word that not only do we have secret ingredients here today; we also have some secret sabotaging! Theo Pieterse, the Potjie Competition’s current champ apparently received a phone call from someone telling him that the Potjie was cancelled! Can you believe that ladies and gentlemen? People will do anything to win! Leaves a bad taste in my mouth! Luckily our champ is here now and he can defend his title!

It’s late afternoon now and all the contestants seem ready. Random numbers are being handed out to maintain anonymity and fairness in the judging process. Points will be awarded for presentation, overall look, flavour and tenderness of meat.

So many different recipes and flavours here! Mmh,mmh, MMH! All these flavours exploding on my taste buds like little landmines on palatable landscapes! YUMMY! Peter added a touch of Hungarian cuisine with his fritter-like lángos sprinkled with garlic, Theo employed something spicy for the more adventurous palate and Team Nine surprised us with a gigantic sweet potato, two beers and a coke! It truly is a scrumptious feast! Let’s see what ‘Team Evil’ is up to.

“We’re adding a touch of charm to this. We’re already preparing our winning speech.”

So confident! Well, we hope your savoury serving is certainly scrumptious! Let’s head on over to Karen and see what the results are.

Ladies and gentlemen, the bottom three: in 9th place we have the mighty Bret and Gordon; 8th place is the deliciously evil, Team Evil and coming in 7th are Team One, Peter and budding Chef Ryan. The top stock are: the dynamic duo Danie and Premil in 3rd place with the K300 prize; coming in 2nd are the power couple of Team 7, Carla and Rainer with K500 and in 1st place, drum roll please!…………the late entry, ANDRE AND CATHERINE!! They win this year’s Potjie and the grand prize of K700!

Their winning Potjie hails from North Africa, a Tajine they call it. The competition was stiff and it must have been a close call for the judges. What do you have to say for yourself, Catherine?

“For a French woman, nothing is impossible!”

Haha! So it seems! Well ladies and gentlemen; I hope you had as much fun as I did! We hope to see you again next year for another culinary clash of pleasantly piquant Potjies! I’m your host with the most roast signing off!

Benny Blow is a half star chef that can create delicacies from the vilest of leftovers. Taste the sandwiches that are his blog posts here; follow his inedible rants on Twitter here and send him a deep fried friend request on Facebook here.

Note: Caricatures created by Jarell Thompson. Jarrell is twice the nightmare Gordon Ramsay is in the kitchen and only half the chef. See what he has cooking on Facebook here and taste his delicacies on Twitter here.