The Art of Braaing: An outdoor entertainment area

A South African’s outdoor entertainment area is different. It’s a reflection of how we live our lives – no half measures.

Life in Africa is brimming with opportunity. The people, personalities, and business opportunities are as colourful as the zig-zag patterns on the beaded jewellery sold at every tourist stop. The cheerful faces are contagious, it makes you wonder if the golden sunshine is what charges the spirits of the people. Living in South Africa comes with its own unique quirks. To live a truly South African lifestyle, you have to equip your home with a few essentials, in order to immerse yourself fully in all the best aspects of our culture. It’s all in the lifestyle.

We don’t barbecue. Ons braai.

What makes the South African “braai” so different from barbies? When a South African cooks meat on a fire, there’s no childsplay involved. Barbies are kept in your daughter’s room.

We don’t do quickstart setups. We don’t do makeshift (although a true South African can conjure a braai out of anything, at any time). Our homes are kitted with an outdoor entertainment area so that we are ready to braai at the drop of a hat.

Our outdoor entertainment areas revolve around this rich cultural event. They’re usually built from stone, brick, or concrete. Our braai area contains a drawer or a closet or a box that is closed to protect our charcoal and wood from drawing moisture. We have an area that houses the fire. There is a space to store our cooler, or we have an outdoor fridge to keep the drinks cool, while the fire crackles. We have a basic wash-up area and a neat drawer or cupboard to store our cooking implements.

The importance of the implements in your outdoor entertainment area

For the true South African braaier, there are a set of rules to follow when it comes to preparing meat and hosting guests in the outdoor entertainment area. It is an unspoken set of guidelines that everyone understands and adheres to. The implements held by each guest and the host represents the designated hierarchy around the fire.

  1. The host usually holds the tongs. He is at the top of the hierarchy and everyone else implicitly trusts the host with their meat. If you are not willing to entrust this task to the host, it is best to decline the invitation.
  2. The next in line, often a brother, cousin, or best friend, will ensure the tong-master is always well hydrated with his choice of cold beverage. He will also ensure there are trays handy to keep meat in as it comes off the fire. He will also assist, as requested by the host, with the basting of the meat.
  3. The next in line is the guest who will help to carry communication via the host and his wife in the kitchen. He will also assist with any other needs that may arise.
  4. Should the host need to excuse himself to attend to any (emergency) events that pull him away from the fire, everyone is promoted temporarily and must assume his superior’s duties, until the host arrives back.

The importance of the drinks

The drinks lubricate joints as the important tasks of manning the fire and cooking the meat are observed. It ensures our tong-master is comfortable. It is essential that the drinks be ice-cold (although the true South African will drink what is available, especially if they are out in the bush, without complaint, in reverence of the sacredness of braaing). Typical drinks include lagers and brandy, but any drinks are welcome. They should be stored in the outdoor entertainment area, easy to get a hold of.

outdoor entertainment area

Serving dinner

There is only one way to serve steak. Crusty and well browned on the outside, pink and flavourful inside. There’s no debate here, finished en klaar. Other traditional braai meats include pork chops with the crackling harvested a little early and enjoyed around the braai casually, as a starter. Boerewors bursting with flavourful juice and browned to perfection. Braai-brood is made from dough that is plated onto a skewer stick and roasted on the fire.

The ladies are appreciated for their wit, their radiant presence, and their abilities to conjure up the salads, the pap, and any other sides the hosts may have decided to provide. It is often observed that the ladies tend to congregate in the kitchen, making a beautiful conglomerate of giggles, stories, and salads. Ladies are always the guests of honour and at dinnertime, the well-mannered men will always thank the lady for her magnanimous hosting before commencing with eating.

Dinner should be enjoyed outdoors under the warm African night skies. For this reason, hosts with a comfortable outdoor entertainment area are always the most-frequented homes. Their homes are respected but always seen as the gathering point for great conversation, the swapping of epic bushveld stories, and fantastic food.

Kitting out your home for the ultimate entertainment area

It takes a true South African to master this art, naturally. It also takes a very particular home – or a very particular entertainment area. We don’t do Europe – we do Africa. Here’s a checklist of outdoor entertainment area must-haves.

A herb garden

This is not for pansies. A real man knows how important fresh herbs are. Wives are full of infinite wisdom. The skilled tong-master listens and learns from her. Herbs to include are Rocket, basil, thyme, coriander, baby spinach, chillies, and capers. Make it creative – grow it as part of the decor. That way, it’s handy when you need it and adds to the atmosphere.


You need a surface for cutting and preparing. Make sure your braai has a smooth, clean, and spacious surface on either side of it. This will help to keep your utensils in order and prevent running in and out of the house in search of essential cooking items. A man is only as strong as his workspace, make sure yours is neat and easy to function in.

Extend your living space

A braai area shouldn’t be separate from your home, it should be an extension of your living/dining area. This way, it’s comfortable, with easy access to indoor facilities and ablutions, while keeping those who are indoors, close.

Storage facilities

Your braai area should have a drawer or a box built into your countertop to house your charcoal, wood, firestarter and other miscellaneous items. That way, these items won’t draw moisture.

Cooling facilities

A cooler box filled with ice will suffice unless you’re a true braai master. In that case, have a fridge built into your outdoor unit. Keep it stocked and cold. It should have locking abilities and if it’s built-in, it won’t be at risk of being nicked. If you’re a hunter, an outdoor freezer with your meat will ensure the missus doesn’t have to contend with clutter in her fridge/freezer in the kitchen.

Acquiring the perfect outdoor entertainment facility for excellent braais

A landscape professional can plan, design, and build the best entertainment area to ensure your guests keep coming back. The right entertainment area also ensures you get to enjoy your evening as much as your guests do, as the food preparation process is simplified. We can design a braai area to fit your budget, your inspiration, or the existing space you have to give you the most comfortable and trendy result. Have your space evaluated for a quote, contact us today.