Johannesburg - Brent Owens, winner of MasterChef Australian 2014 and the author of Dig In, is in South Africa filming for a food and travel series titled Brent Owens Unwrapped: South Africa.
The series will air in the coming months, although a date hasn’t been finalised. Meanwhile, Brent shares his travel memories.
First holiday memory?
My parents always saved hard and treated us to a family holiday once a year. Perhaps because of the price or the convenience, they were on a cruise ship - I have a load of great memories of when my immediate family were all together and we would spend a couple of weeks at sea, as one. These are the sort of memories that are priceless.
Favourite place in South Africa?
In my limited experiences, I have had the most fun in Soweto. Every city or town I have been to has had a vastly different feeling, but the raw energy in Soweto is electric. Upbeat, trendy, raw and historic, I make this place my top South African pick to date.
I was fortunate enough to spend a few weeks travelling from the north of Italy, down to the south, finishing in Sicily. The cuisine varied significantly in regions and I couldn’t get enough. The number of delicious meals I ate - I put the simple Italian holiday top of my list - for now.
What have you learnt from your travels?
It’s a cliche to say travelling opens the mind, but seeing the world develops one’s being into something a book will never teach. I have grown and learnt emotions I never knew existed.
Ideal travelling companion?
That’s easy - my partner, of course. We feed off each other.
Beach bum, culture vulture or adrenalin junkie?
Culture vulture would top the list, closely followed by adrenalin junkie, and a few steps down, beach bum. I’m not a complete thrill-seeker. I like adventure with my feet on the ground. Heights don’t like me.
Greatest travel luxury?
Look, I don’t think I’m a diva, but I don’t mind sitting at the front of the plane when I can, or when others are paying, I opt for business class.
I’m quite the open book, pun intended. My library has everything from the Elon Musk autobiography to fifty shades of sh*t, but I do prefer a nice motivational read to keep the brain ticking over. The autobiographies of past rock stars give insight into the lives we long to live.
Which place has seduced you?
I haven’t been to one place on the planet that hasn’t got the juices flowing. Italy has to be my top pick, but Miami is close behind. It has the upbeat vibe Soweto has.
Worst travel experience?
NYC. I’m not sure why - there’s this perception that builds it up to be an overwhelming phenomenon that it just wasn’t, unfortunately. I do hope to give it a second chance.
Favourite walk, swim, ride or drive?
A young, naive, excited and ignorant Australian couple once dreamed up the idea of driving from Hollywood to San Francisco. Route 1, along the coast - piques the motivation, until you attempt to do it in one day without studying the road rule - taking wrong turns, wrong lanes and narrowly avoiding death a few times.
Best meal abroad?
Simply grilled octopus, on the island of Favignana, off Sicily. It was so incredibly delicious I would go back in a heartbeat just to eat it again.