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  • Writer's pictureRobyn Kars

Wagyu, Warthogs and Winging it

Updated: Apr 5

Luan van Niekerk, aka Vlakvark, winner of the @Oppiplaas Wagyu Trip-tip competition. 11 March 2023

Luan van Niekerk, aka Vlakvark (middle) with Big George Custom Smokers (left) and Jacques Engelbrecht (right) from Smoke & Grind

On March 11th, I had the opportunity to attend the Braaifluencer activator in Pretoria. At this event, Braaifluencers gathered together to not only share stories and flavors related to the braai-tradition but also showcase unique and diverse techniques.

Foods of Tomorrow with Silent Valley provided MS8 Wagyu Tri-Tip cuts for each of them to create an exquisite dining experience. It was very exciting to watch as each Braaifluencer incorporated their skills in crafting a delicious dish.

You usually find a combination of bushveld and warthogs on some game reserve or in a distinct wilderness where you're sheltered beneath a canopy of trees in Africa waiting for the sun to set... Cooking, eating and camping is not only a few of South Africa's favorite things to do but also the lifestyle of Luan van Niekerk, aka Vlakvark! A self-proclaimed spice-maker, chef and braaifluencer!

Luan van Niekerk is an acclaimed cook, often wearing flops and shorts in the kitchen. His cuisine draws on his appreciation of fresh ingredients and spices, something he has cultivated since childhood. When Luan was only four-years-old, he made his first attempt at cooking with a mishap that landed him in trouble: almost setting fire to the carpet with sosatie sticks and marshmallows! Nevertheless, Luan persevered and has since become very well known for the excellence of his culinary creations.

Luan has a passion for cooking and exploring new flavors. He also understands the importance of learning from mistakes - when his guests enjoy a dish he takes pride in being able to provide that experience. Utilizing every opportunity to bring people together through braai is one of his greatest highlights. As he puts it, Life is all about bushveld, braai, and the smell of quality wood smoking into thin air.

Luan is dedicated to upholding the values of hard work, integrity, loyalty, achievement, and kindness in pursuit of his goal - success. With self-discipline and an enthusiasm for innovation, he works to achieve his goals while always appreciating the journey. By marrying creativity with skillful craftsmanship come his most remarkable achievements.

"I'm a career professional within the spice industry, but I find balance by creating special dishes in my free time. I've developed patience and challenged my curiosity, and I make it a priority to expand my knowledge of the trade by learning from industry professionals. It's an exciting journey that continuously keeps me engaged."

"I believe one should always push the boundaries, it keeps food honest and the taste buds going! Let’s start with Wagyu, of which I am an ardent fan" says Luan.

We look forward to working with Vlakvark shortly, whether it's creating. spices together or combining his love for creating with our love of Wagyu

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