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    ‘Renaissance Man’ Brett Rogers will narrate stories about unique food joints, breweries, and tattoo studios in South Africa

    Forty five days. Three thousand kilometers. Eight co-travellers. Six tattoos. And lots of food, and wine — TLC’s Food Dudes and Tattoos captures Brett Rogers’ road trip through the big, and small towns of South Africa. And at the heart of this journey are the “stories of artistes”, and their passion for what they do, maintains the host from Johannesburg. These artistes are people who make the edgiest of food, artisanal products, alcohol, and tattoos in the region. Every episode will feature a cross-section of people running unique food joints, bars, and tattoo parlours over a span of 13 weeks.

    “Just because someone is staying in a smaller town doesn’t mean he/she is not doing incredible things. So we tried to cover a good breadth of the country, travelling from Johannesburg into smaller towns,” says Rogers, who’s popularly known as the ‘Renaissance Man’. He’s been a professional swimmer, has studied hotel management, and his massage therapy expertise got him to work with the New Zealand cricket team. But wait, there’s more; he’s also been a model, and is the owner of HalfWolf clothing line. Plus his company, I Sout Jozi, is the go-to-place to scout for locations for ad films, and documentaries around South Africa.

    Memory milestone
    Rogers, 36, shares his best memories from the trip, which “are more about the people than the products they make”. “I met a woman from Ethiopia. She came to Johannesburg, took over an abandoned building, and runs a food joint here. I never really had true Ethiopian food until I ate a lamb dish made by her. In another place, I met a lady in her 50s. One day, she decided to go to Belgium to learn chocolate-making, come back, and make chocolates right in the middle of the dessert,” he recollects.
    He also visited his grandmother’s hometown of Knysna. “The first-microbrewery of South Africa was built here. It’s called Mitchell’s. Even though it’s become bigger, people run it with the same, old passion,” he says.
    But it was his interview with tattoo artist Oushia at Mossel Bay that tugged at his heartstrings. He tells us, “The lady was really nervous, she didn’t really want to be a part of it (the interview). It was a difficult situation for me, because I am used to people sharing as much as possible during interviews. Later I learnt that she had a hard life. She was bullied, beaten up, people threw her out of her school, and a lot more. But at 30, she found the calling of her life, and started doing tattoos. It’s never late to find what you love!”

    Ink talks
    Rogers returned from the trip feeling more connected to his countrymen, and with a newfound interest in TV. “I want to give more nourishing content to the world. I am sick of aggression on TV,” Rogers says about his future plans. “If given a chance, I would like to replicate this show for Latin America, India, and Pakistan” he adds.
    Then there are the tattoos to be nostalgic about. “I got six tattoos done in 30 days. By the time I was getting the sixth tattoo, I got fever. It was a draining experience, but these tattoos are beautiful. My most favourite is the geometrical design of a koi fish that I got done in Durban. It’s on the left side of by ribs,” says the tattoo-savvy Rogers, adding, “I like change. I don’t like my fashion, hair or skin to be the same every day.”
    Premieres on April 10.
    10 pm on TLC
    — Barkha Kumari

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