Call it fate, destiny, karma – sometimes we’re hesitant to use words like these to describe our lives for fear of sounding silly, but fear never stopped the three owners of KUDU Safari Braai from making the choices they were meant to make in order to turn those aspirations into reality. The KUDU Safari Braai has its origins in South Africa, where early humans gathered in caves over a million years ago to cook meat over fire for the very first time.
Quite a few years after that, Georgia boy Stebin Horne traveled there to meet the family of the woman he’d fallen in love with, and found himself falling in love with the South African culture and traditions as well – especially the communal braais, where families and friends gathered regularly around an open flame to cook, eat, and socialize in an unhurried way.
Inspired, he returned to America to corroborate with his hometown friend Stewart Vernon on a way to bring this experience back home. Stewart, a precocious businessman and CEO of the nation’s largest pool service franchise, had been cultivating opportunities for himself since his early teenage years – his entrepreneurial experience and knowledge of the ins and outs of marketing and distribution made him the perfect partner in this new venture that was quickly becoming a lifestyle company. Mercer University awarded Stebin a fellowship from its Mercer Innovation Center for the promising work he’d done turning the KUDU from a dream into a reality, and the KUDU Kickstarter campaign generated much interest and was fully funded well before its deadline.
Enter Chef Kevin Gillespie, a beloved Atlanta native who charmed the nation with his earnest performance on Bravo’s Top Chef, and who continues to thrill anyone lucky enough to eat in any of his restaurants with sustainably-sourced quality food prepared sincerely and with love. Kevin’s enthusiasm for barbecuing and skillful mastery of technique make him the perfect candidate to be the mouthpiece for the KUDU – he’s able to articulate his passion for KUDU cooking in a way that makes anyone watching or listening to him feel confident that they, too, could master this grill and captivate a crowd of hungry onlookers with food that’s both beautiful and delicious.
The KUDU Safari Braai is the end result of years of the ambitious dreams of each of these three men, and the hard work necessary to make those dreams reality. It’s South African inspired and American made, a perfect way to bridge cultures and bring people together in one of the most primal, enjoyable ways we can think of: around a fire, surrounded by people we love, ready to eat.