Cooked Seasons

Cooked 1

Intrepid cook and seasoned traveller, Justin Bonello embarks on an epic road trip of a lifetime – 30 days, 30 friends, more than 4500km around South Africa, from Cape Town to the Wild Coast and back again.

Guided by Justin, along the way they will play with their food, cook over open fires, eat under the stars, explore the incredible natural beauty of their country, and have awesome experiences and adventures that will give them a lifetime of warm memories!

This is Cooked.

Cooked 2

We South Africans love our weekends, the longer the better. We work all week chasing Friday then kick back and relax with our friends, family and great food.

In season two of Cooked, appropriately subtitled ‘Weekends Away’, Justin Bonello adapts the epic road trip concept of season one and dials it down a notch to two or three day breaks which anyone can tackle.

The distance and length of the trips may have been trimmed, but the fun and the food certainly haven’t!

Cooked 3

As he embarks on a five week journey to Mozambique via Lesotho and Splashy Fen, Justin Bonello comments that he must be the luckiest guy alive, and there’s no arguing with that.

In this third season of Cooked viewers will get a taste of our lives here in the southernmost part of Africa – the way we eat, the way we socialise, the music we listen to, the games we play… “My heart is in Africa,” says Justin and as we know, home is where the heart is.

Cooked 4

Justin has lost his mojo and appetite for cooking and believes that the only way to get it back is to up his game.

So, over a three month period he’ll be spending three or four days in the kitchens of 13 of South Africa’s premier restaurants. Here some of South Africa’s best loved chefs and their assistants guide him through the intricacies and rigours of preparing an array of traditional, exotic and very original dishes.

The hours are extremely long and the work exacting but the people he meets have the same passion for food that he does and in no time he’s right back in his element. They get him to do his fair share of kneading dough and chopping onions but he can see right off that there is a vast difference between cooking for mates on a beach and preparing food for paying guests.

It’s obvious why everything has to be prepared well in advance and that each unit needs to operate like a well oiled machine. As he gains in confidence, the chefs allow him to prepare some of their signature dishes and he even gets to work on the pass. Justin quickly begins to appreciate the real attraction of this profession. How when the pressure’s on and the place starts rocking there’s a tremendous adrenaline rush and a huge satisfaction in being part of the team that makes it all come together.

During this series Justin goes from rough bush cook to smooth operator as his skill set improves.

Whenever possible he reciprocates by taking his mentors out into his open air kitchen and giving back some of what he’s learned. While picking up the finer points of haute cuisine Justin also makes life long friends and spends time at some spectacular locations.

Exploring the vine

Three hot young men making wine, drinking wine and talking about wine. What’s not to love about this series?

Producer Justin Bonello struck gold with this trio of handsome wine lads – James Corder, Stuart Botha and Howard Booysen – who are not only wonderfully easy on the eye, but they are best friends, know their stuff, and the camera adores them. What splendid good fortune.

James is the viticulturist and vineyard manager at his family farm in the emerging wine region of Elgin; Stuart is the winemaker at Eagle’s Nest in Constantia (which produces award-winning shiraz); and Howard is a Cape Wine Guild Protégé whose goal is to be a cellar master, with the side ambition of having his own label and “just enjoy making mouth puckering beautiful wines”.

While James and Stuart are based on their own farms – the former produces grapes for a variety of cellars – Howard gets to move around a lot, and experience every aspect of winemaking. In the first three episodes of Exploring The Vine, we follow them before, during and after the annual harvest, and any committed wine drinker will gain a deeper respect for the backbreaking, exhausting and unglamorous labour that starts the process of getting that grape into their glass.

In other episodes, the guys go exploring, hunting down the oldest vine in South Africa, meeting other wine makers, visiting wine festivals, discovering the people, lifestyle and stories behind South Africa’s own pinotage, and trawling the dusty plains of the Karoo along Route 62 – the longest wine route in the world. Before coming back to their farms to mull over everything they have learned, the guys delve into organic wine farming as well as visit the iTownship Wine Festival in Gugs and learn the tales behind some of our black-owned brands.

It’s a well-rounded yet fresh, fun and unpretentious look at the South African wine industry, in a beautifully filmed and edited package which shows off the Western Cape and surrounds in all her glory. Oh, and did we mention the three hot young presenters?

Getaway to Africa

After completing three seasons of the travel and food series Cooked, Justin Bonello embarked on a 105-day, eight-country, 16 000km journey which resulted in the 13-part series Getaway In Africa.

“While we were in Mozambique filming Cooked I found a lot of stories that couldn’t be told in a cooking show,” says Justin.The first episode sees him return to the highlands of Lesotho, where he had visited briefly in Cooked, to ride the hardy ponies into otherwise inaccessible regions. The epic journey continued into the Drakensberg where Justin and his crew did three hikes in the space of a week, which nearly led to a mutiny. A nice stroll in the mountains is one thing, but add the heavy film equipment and multiply by three and the crew tends to get a tad irritable.

Travelling by road, rail and boats, ranging from cities to remote rural areas, Getaway In Africa shows us parts of Mozambique, Malawi, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Namibia that the average traveller rarely gets to see. It’s not only beautifully filmed and edited with a keen artistic eye but the stories of man’s impact on the environment add an important depth.

“If you force feed this information to people they don’t buy it,” he says. “This is story telling but with facts and figures behind it. Hopefully it will create awareness and encourage travel.”