‘Food is togetherness’ say these Kokkedores


Although Tjaart and Jan, two loved ones Kokkedoor Fire & Flame-participants, had to return home after they could not rise the mast in the latest episode of the series, they would not trade this food experience for anything.

Tjaart, a coffee shop owner and farmer from Stilbaai, and Jan, a minister from Cradock, are in the fifth episode of Kokkedoor Fire & Flame sent home after failing to impress the judges with their steak-grilling prowess.

This was the first challenge in the series that these two kitchen lovers had to tackle as a team. Kobus Botha, one of the judges, favorite cut of meat, Côte de Boeuf, a French version of rib-eye steak (rib-eye steak), was the proverbial nail in this team’s coffin.

“Common love for food creates friendship” says Tjaart

“I was fragile and broken. The feeling of disappointment was super overwhelming – I certainly wouldn’t have wanted to go home so early,” said the 27-year-old Tjaart about his exit from the Kokkedoor Fire & Flame-kitchen told RNews.

He remembers every time he took his seat with his fellow contestants in the coal room, where decisions are made about each contestant’s future in the competition. Each time he just recited a little prayer, and each time a feeling of tranquility washed over him.

After the last challenge, this calmness, to which he had become accustomed all the time, was missing. An idea stirred in him that this would be his last time in the coal room.

Yet, when this Stilbaai chef and coffee shop owner has his time in the competition in the cook door-kitchen thinks, these are the people he simply cannot forget.

“Something that was worth noting is that we were twenty people from so many different backgrounds, yet we became very close very quickly,” says Tjaart.

“It is our common love of food that brought us together. Food moves mountains, it brings people’s culture and backgrounds together.”

Although Tjaart’s time on the program has ended, he still faithfully watches to support the rest of the participants.

“Everyone deserves a place in the sun – and no one signed up not to win. Everyone has a reason to be there.”

Tjaart and his mother own a coffee shop, Coffee & Cream, in Stilbaai. It is precisely there where he can fully live out each of his food dreams, especially when it comes to baking. Although viewers got to know him as a braaier, Tjaart admits that he can fully express himself when he is baking. He also farms goats with his father, a life path that not only piqued his interest, but strengthened his relationship with his father.

“It was a good middle ground to build a road between me and my father again. We found a common interest in the boer goats, and our love for each other grew as a result.”

“To braai is to escape” says Jan

When you look at Jan, the vicar of Cradock, it is hard not to feel his calmness.

“Everyone in the competition has this incredible story, and that’s what the viewers have to buy into. It’s not going to help to choose one favourite, because every dear participant comes with a story of hope as to why they participate in the competition,” Jan told RNews.

“When you realize what everyone’s story is, you will very easily support everyone who participates and be happy when they win at the end of the day.”

Jan admits that he was disappointed in himself and sad for his teammate, Tjaart, when it was announced that they had to return home.

For him, as for Tjaart, they became friends easily.

“We were thrown into an unusual situation with people we didn’t really know beforehand. There was so much pressure and emotion in the air – you almost can’t help forming friendships.”

“One walks away with family, rather than friends, precisely because we shared this experience.”

Although Jan had to leave his pulpit for a while, he says that he did not tell people that he was going to participate in the competition. He simply put in a leave and later, with the introduction of the participants, shared the happy news with his congregation.

Since then, this congregation has stood firmly behind their pastor.

Jan has always loved cooking, and even more for grilling. He sees it as a chance to breathe and escape. He has also always seen a picture in his mind’s eye where he participates in a food competition or program – and when he saw the fire of Kokkedoor Fire & Flame see, he knew that day had come for him.

“For me, food is an escape from everyday worries and challenges. I also wanted to do something for myself, as a minister you do so much for others that you often forget about yourself.”

“During the course of the program, I learned that having basic knowledge about cooking is much more important than fancy to be able to do things. I also now know that trusting my own instincts is invaluable.”

  • Kokkedoor Fire & Flame is broadcast Thursdays at 20:00 on kykNET, DStv channel 144.