An African affair

An African affair

An African affair

When you think South Africa, you think safari, don’t you? Well, South Africa is not just about animals, says Brett Rogers, host of the new TLC programme Food, Dudes & Tattoos. Instead, the show is about the incredible beauty of the place and the remarkable stories of its people.

Brett describes himself as a multi-person, and he is certainly one. He has been an international swimmer, a fashion designer, a model, a restaurateur, and PR person, and has even made his own booze. Brett says he’s yet to decide what he wants to stick with, that won’t bore him.

The culturescape
The programme is all about the trips Brett takes around South Africa, meeting different people, enjoying different dishes and wines from small wine-makers, and — here’s the difference from other such shows — getting tattoos. So, naturally, the first question in his interview is what foods he’d recommend to an Indian gourmet. “I wouldn’t know where to start,” he laughs, “We’re a mixture of several cultures.” He mentions the shisa nyama that he had on his travels, the heavily-cooked meat, a sort of barbecue that South Africans call braai. But it is not just about the food, he says; it is also about the talking, laughing and socialising around the meal. It’s about the people.

Brett also mentions a specific incident that stuck with him. In George, he got to eat mozzarella cheese made from buffalo’s milk. “It was such a pleasure to see the animals happy, eating the grass, and being with each other,” he says. “Happy buffaloes make happy milk; happy milk makes happy cheese.” It made him happy to see that what he was putting in his body came from a happy place.

As for the booze, Brett mentions they were looking for a particular style of producers — not big conglomerates, but small breweries, distillers and wine makers. These wine makers are also creative and sensitive to what they create, he says. They don’t just make the wine, store it in barrels, bottle it and send it out. There is a lot of heart, a lot of love in what they do. Brett speaks of a man he met in George, whose wine is called Herold Wines, who talked of his work with a great deal of passion. Brett says, “He spoke of the specific grape as if he were in love with it.” His goal was to just make the best Pinot Noir that he could make. It was not to take over the wine world or to make money, but to create something great. “That is what artists are,” he says.

Art of tattooing
The idea of tattoos was not Brett’s own, but inspired by producer Larney de Swardt. Brett has a simple explanation as to why tattoo artists and body art is frowned upon. In the past, tattooed people were usually criminals, sailors, bikers or someone to be afraid of. “But there has been a dramatic shift in the kind of people that get tattooed — they are sensible, gentle, kind human beings,” says Brett. As for tattoo artists, they paint on something that is wriggling and moving.

Tattooing is a terribly difficult art, done on a moving canvas which shifts, corrodes and moves. It is done in a highly stressful environment and needs to be appreciated. Brett would like to bring tattoos to a more general populace. He says, “I have no problem with people who don’t like body modification, but I don’t like people who don’t like people who have body modification.”

But why club tattooing with cooking and making wine? “At the end of the day, tattoo practitioners are artists who make people beautiful, and chefs are artistes, too. So it is not a stretch to bring the two together,” Brett thinks. This show is, therefore, not your basic travel and cooking show, but a showcase where the art of cooking and wine-making meets the art of tattooing.

Asked about what he took away from making the show, Brett says, “I grew to love my country even more.” It helped him see how similar the people were and how connected they all were.
This fun and different kind of show comes your way every Sunday at 10 pm, on TLC. Enjoy!

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