News / Africa

South Africa Serving Up the Beef at World Cup

South Africa restaurateurs and meat suppliers to sell tons of beef during upcoming football World Cup

Prime South African beef on a grill in a South African restaurant.  World Cup visitors must prepare to eat plenty of red meat......
Prime South African beef on a grill in a South African restaurant. World Cup visitors must prepare to eat plenty of red meat......

Multimedia

Audio
  • to South Africans serving up the beef at the world cup

Darren Taylor

Leading South African restaurateur Steve Maresch enters a large cold room, and gestures towards slabs of meat hanging from hooks.  “It’ll be sirloin, rump down there, rib eye on top there; then T-bone,” he explains, “This is what we’re looking forward to serving to our visitors – prime South African beef.”

The beef expert is a member of South Africa’s national guild of restaurateurs – and just one of many South Africans preparing to feed about 450,000 international football fans during Africa’s first World Cup.

Unprecedented beef sales are expected in South Africa during the month-long football festival, given that supporters from six of the top 10 beef-eating nations on earth will descend on the country.

According to the latest statistics from the United States Food and Agriculture Department, Argentina is the world’s top per capita consumer of beef.  On average, each Argentine eats a staggering 65.2 Kg (1 KG = 2.2 lbs) of beef every year.  Australians are next, eating almost 50 Kg per person per year, while each American on average eats more than 40 Kg of beef annually.  Uruguay, Brazil and France – countries that have also qualified for the 2010 World Cup – are also among the top 10 beef-eating nations.

South Africans eat a mere 16 Kg of the meat a year – still enough to place their homeland among the top 20 beef-consuming countries.  South Africa also enjoys a reputation of producing some of the most flavorful beef in the world.    

Incredible beef

Maresch’s love affair with beef began about eight years ago, when he visited a cattle ranch in South Africa’s northern Gauteng province.  
“At Chalmar farm we discovered the most incredible beef we’d ever tasted and literally two weeks later, we’d opened the first of a few local grills,” he tells VOA.

Zimbabwean steak griller Peter Mahiangu is looking forward to preparing food for tourists during South Africa's World Cup
Zimbabwean steak griller Peter Mahiangu is looking forward to preparing food for tourists during South Africa's World Cup

The grain-fed beef he now serves in his restaurants – often rated by leading food critics as the best steakhouses in South Africa – comes from steers at Chalmar ranch.  There, animals are fed only the finest natural grains.

“We also have the finest of free-range beef, or grass-fed beef, which comes from a farm in Kwazulu-Natal (province).  And that’s very lush, green pastures (that the cattle graze),” Maresch says.  

Greenfields ranch supplies free-range meat from cattle left to roam the misty hills and mountains, free to feed as they wish on mineral-rich grasses.

Our cattle are what they eat


Cattle in South Africa aren’t confined to one particular area, but are found all over the country.

“Our cattle are what they eat,” says Maresch.  “Often it’s been said that South Africa is a world in one country – from lush, grassy pastures to quite arid regions, to mountainous areas, to savanna.  It’s the best of all worlds in one here – which means the beef that we can produce is of the finest.”

Down the years, South African beef producers have discovered which particular breeds of cattle are best suited to specific regions containing specific grazing.

Great South African beef comes from indigenous cattle such as the Nguni breed
Great South African beef comes from indigenous cattle such as the Nguni breed

South African beef has an “edge” over that produced in many other parts of the world, says Maresch, because of the country’s “wonderful farmers,” who focus on quality rather than quantity.

“I think the farms have huge attention to detail, in all aspects, and we certainly have had the privilege of going out to the farms and walking the pastures, being out in the feedlots and understanding (the farmers’) total commitment (to producing quality beef).”

Humane treatment influences meat’s taste

South African farmers crossbreed traditional indigenous cattle such as Nguni, Afrikaner, Drakensberger and Bonsmara.  “They’re trying to find and interbreed (animals) to produce better yield, better flavor, and a more consistent beef,” Maresch says.

The country’s beef is of the healthiest in the world, according to South African nutritionist Hettie Schonfeld.

“The beef consumed most often in South Africa contains only 13% fat - of the leanest when compared to global beef producers and thus making it perfectly acceptable to consume as part of a healthy balanced diet,” she says.  

Maresch says many South African farmers also treat their herds as humanely as possible.  “If cattle are stressed, no matter how good a breed it is, the meat isn’t going to taste as good because the animals produce all kinds of (flavor-killing acids) when they’re stressed.”

He adds that “quality” South African beef producers don’t inject their cattle with artificial growth hormones and steroids.

The aging process


The aging process affects how tender and juicy tasty a steak is.  “From my   experience, the aging process is one that any good steak has to go through, and aging is allowing the amino acids to be active (to) break down the muscle fibers,” says Maresch.

Maresch attributes the high quality of South African beef to the expertise of the country's cattle farmers
Maresch attributes the high quality of South African beef to the expertise of the country's cattle farmers

The meat is aged by hanging it in cold rooms, with temperatures between three and five degrees Celsius.  Humidity is controlled by means of special filters.  

“This allows our beef to be aged for up to 90 days, when vacuum packed.  When the beef is in a vacuum pack, that’s called wet aging,” Maresch explains.  “The cut lies in its natural juices and is allowed to mature.”

But there’s also dry aging – the meat arrives from the farm, and sellers keep it in a vacuum pack for up to two weeks.  

“Then we take it out of the vacuum bag and hang it up on a hook in the cold room, allowing the natural elements to oxidize and age that piece of beef; it’s a faster process.  (The steak) is dry on the outside and quite pleasant to eat,” he says.

Rubs and grilling


South Africans generally enjoy their meat barbecued.  At Maresch’s restaurants, chefs rub the steaks with a blend of spices, including oregano, paprika, coriander, mustard seeds, salt and thyme.

“We then press our steaks into the rub mix.  It’s then placed on the grill and brushed with salted butter while it’s grilling,” the restaurateur explains.

Most South Africans prefer their steaks medium rare, according to Maresch.  But one of his grillers, Peter Mahlangu, says plenty also like their meat rare or even “very rare.”  Maresch jokes that customers who order steaks well done are “allowed to leave out the back door.”      

He continues, “It’s going to be interesting to find out what other famous meat eaters, like the South and North Americans and the French and the Australians think of our beef.”

The beef Maresch sells is the best he’s ever tasted, he says – and he’s eaten steaks all over the world, including in perhaps the most famous of cattle areas, Texas, in the United States.  

“That’s not an arrogant sales pitch.  I invite anyone – especially people who are going to be visiting us for the World Cup – to taste South African meat.  I’m sure they’ll be amazed.”   

He says it may well be that another international tournament will happen in South Africa at the same time as the football jamboree – the “Beef World Cup!”  

You May Like

Polls Open in Scotland Independence Vote

As race to persuade undecided voters continues, 'No' voters say they believe life in Scotland will slowly improve, 'Yes' vote not worth the risk More

South Africa’s 'Open Mosque' Admits Everyone, Including Critics

Open Mosque founder plans to welcome gay worshipers and allow women to lead prayers More

Ukrainian Activist in Despair About Future of Her Country

IrIna Dovgan, accused of being a spy and tortured by pro-Russian separatists, is appealing to UN Human Rights Council to support her country More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Wateri
X
September 17, 2014 8:44 PM
Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid