Ask any reigning Masters Tournament champion what they plan to serve at the annual Champions Dinner and the responses are generally vague – meat and potatoes with some kind of twist from their native country or state.
With that question posed at his home in South Africa in October, Charl Schwartzel didn’t take the vague way out. He tossed some wood coals and briquets on the grill and gave his guests a live sampling of a traditional South African braai – barbecued filets, lamb chops, boerewors (sausage) and slabs of cheese cooked on the grill.
Schwartzel, however, left out one detail. This apparently wasn’t just a menu tasting – it was a demonstration.
The 27-year-old South African said this week at the Joburg Open that he hopes to actually cook for his fellow champions on the Tuesday of Masters Week. He wants to host his braai with grills set up underneath the iconic oak tree between the clubhouse and the first tee.
“We’ve put in a request and are still waiting to hear from them,” Schwartzel told Global Golf Post. “But I’d love to be able to braai there. I want to braai everything myself, but we just have to see if that’s possible with the number of people there. I could end up with a very sore hand at the end of the evening turning all that meat.”
Augusta National, of course, does not comment on the details of such matters. In general, the club balks at outsiders cooking in their kitchens. Other than Vijay Singh famously bringing in a prominent Atlanta restaurateur to prepare his Thai menu in 2001, Augusta National has used its own chefs to prepare whatever the host champion desires (with the possible exception of Sandy Lyle’s haggis).
When Angel Cabrera wanted to have a traditional Argentinian asado in 2010, the club didn’t set up parrillas on the veranda to barbecue his beef and chorizo. So whether anyone wandering under the oak late in the day on Tuesday will see Schwartzel donning his green jacket and an apron over the fire is remote.
But I can vouch for the champion’s prowess with tongs, as he cooked enough filet and chops to feed a small army despite only seven diners. It takes guts to even want to cook the meal for all the former Masters winners on hand.
“All my braais are good,” Schwartzel said last week. “But I suppose the best braais are the ones where you eat the meat right off the fire. I can certainly hold my own around a fire.”
Schwartzel already knows one authentic item he desires to serve his new peers is likely off the menu – South African biltong. The dried and spiced beef similar to jerky is a staple among South Africans.
“You can’t take biltong into the United States,” Schwartzel lamented of the U.S. Customs limitations. “They can make it in the U.S., but you can’t import it.”
Schwartzel plans to serve the champions boerewors – a traditional South African sausage grilled in coiled links on the braai.
“I have a special spice which I put on my boerewors, so I’ll use that for sure,” he told Global Golf Post. “But I think the filet is my real specialty. I make this secret marinade for it. I think it’s fantastic. Louis Oosthuizen (the 2010 British Open champion) loves it, and he’s a very fussy meat eater, so it must be pretty good.”
For dessert, he plans to keep it simple with ice cream in hot chocolate sauce, although anyone can always request peach cobbler if they want.
“I’ll keep it very simple,” he said.
If you call cooking for the greatest names in golf in the most famous setting simple. If Schwartzel gets his wish, it would certainly raise the bar for the Champions Dinner to another level.
Should he win again, his next step might be hunting the meat down himself for an encore.