Masterchef Australia 2014 winner, Brent Owens, has tried his hand at something different in Brent Owens: Extreme Authentic & Unwrapped.
The 13-part food and travel series takes viewers through a journey around South Africa with Owens at the helm, exploring local cuisine, learning from those that have crafted these home-grown dishes, digging into aspects of the nation’s history, uncovering fascinating personal stories from locals he meets along the way and delving into little-known areas of the country.
And, because Owens loves adventure, he also gets to experience some of South Africa’s high-adrenalin activities while overcoming very real fears.
“There is a real opportunity for viewers to completely understand South Africa from the series. We cover all bases, from the food culture and beautiful landscapes, to the challenges that are currently present and the stories that match. Viewers will come on the journey with me to challenge everything we think we know about SA and I’m sure they will be as surprised as I was. It’s a constant whirlwind of emotion,” said Owens.
Owens, who previously shot Brent Owens Unwrapped in Johannesburg, Soweto, Pretoria and Mpumulanga, returned to delve into little-known areas to expose international audiences to the country.
“This time around filming has been jam-packed full of activity. We travelled to Cape Town, and then drove the entire Garden Route, stopping off in some incredible places and experiencing some amazing adventures. Who knew that South Africa had such diverse landscapes that would remind me of regions that I have visited from all around the globe,” Owens said.
Chef Brent Owens visits Sabi Sabi. Picture: Supplied
He said one of his most rewarding experiences this time around was floating around in the sea off the West Coast with a bunch of 4m to 6m great white sharks.
“I sound like a lunatic but it was one of the most peaceful moments of my life. Once the initial adrenaline wore off and I realised I wasn’t going to be eaten, it was a magical moment and I felt so relaxed,” he said.
He said travelling around South Africa had opened up his mind to a whole new world and enhanced his understanding.
“It’s very easy to come to South Africa, judge it, make assumptions, give opinions and not really understand anything that you’re talking about. Unfortunately, I think I fell victim to this initially but, as I’ve spent more time learning and keeping an open mind, my views are completely different. The country is beautiful. It has character, soul, history, energy and I couldn’t talk it up enough,” Owens said.
In the show, Owens freefalls in Soweto, paraglides in Knsyna and jumps off the world’s highest bridge bungee, Bloukrans Bridge, at 216m.
“Adrenalin activities do excite me – that is until I’m standing there, ready to do something that I may not walk away from alive! Actually that’s what I love about it. My number one fear is heights. It scares the s*** out of me! Luckily the film crew eased me into it. The first few activities were a rush and it does make you mentally stronger. I didn’t want to free-fall in Soweto but, as soon as I did it, I felt like it was an accomplishment. That’s the point for me. Same goes for paragliding but the big one was Bloukrans. That’s the hardest challenge I have ever attempted to face,” he said.
Owens says filming a travel series is hard work for everyone.
“Being in a country that has its adversities is real and that’s why Unwrapped is different. South Africa has it all and we show it all. We want the viewers to come on this journey with me, through the good and the bad, to unwrap the realities that exist. It’s not an exposé and it’s not a tourism brochure, it’s just me, you and the crew, travelling the country to fully understand it. I know how interesting it is because the crew members who have lived in SA their entire lives were constantly surprised, shocked and educated as to what we were filming – which demonstrates the depths we go to,” he said.
Brent Owens: Extreme Authentic & Unwrapped, will premiere on Discovery (DStv 121) on Tuesdays at 8pm.