Dynamic. Energetic. Full of life. Spontaneous. Happy. A few words to describe a power couple with no real introduction needed. Some know them from Survivor, 7de Laan, Pasella and other well-known Afrikaans movies. Some look up to them as inspiration for marriage and parenting. Us? We love that they live their lives so true to our brand values. We strive for togetherness in everything we do. Celebrate the small, sometimes even mundane, things in life, and so do Christi and Nico Panagio.
We checked in with this dynamic duo for a casual chat, and to our surprise, it felt like we’ve known each other for years! Yes, they are both professional presenters that have worked in the entertainment industry for years. But, what intrigued us even more were the delicious wings they braaied on our Evolution 5 Burner Patio Gas Braai. And the braai broodjies. The colourful veggies and salad on the braai. Their foodie energy matched ours!
Their food heritage
Food is celebrated and an integral part of any culture. Each culture brings their own flare, their own flavours and traditions to the table. Nico, with Greek and Afrikaans heritage, grew up with a different spin on what braai is. Especially compared to Christi growing up in an Afrikaans household. Nico was used to braaiing a Greek inspired dishes, and as a child learnt from his dad about fire, traditions and how to cook outdoors. Think lemon chicken wings, lamb chops or beef Souvlaki right on the braai. For those of us that don’t know what Souvlaki is, it means kebabs or in Afrikaans, ‘sosatie’.
Although his dad taught him everything he knows about fire and cooking outside, they sometimes didn’t want to go to all the effort of making a fire. Smelling like smoke and especially their patio not rigged for a proper open-fire braai. His dad bought them a gas braai for Christmas one year, our Evolution 5 Burner Patio Gas Braai. And that was when the extra foodie energy ignited! From a quick braai on a week night, or inviting friends over for a big celebration, our patio gas braai made it easy to achieve both.
South African foodies conquer the world.
Christi and Nico travel often. They always have since they met each other 20 years ago. Not only do they save up for holidays, but Nico’s job also entails quite a bit of travel. Working as the host of Surviver South Africa (link). They’ve travelled to Samoa, Thailand, Maldives, Philippines, Malaysia and Panama for the show and each time the family goes with. A few months spent in another country really gave them time to embrace each country with all its colour, its culture and flavours. It gave them an opportunity to try out the local food, not just a hotel chicken mayo sandwich. Christi attended a cooking class in Thailand to learn all the basics about Thai cooking. The foundation rules, the spices, and a few tricks! Now, she’s even experimented at home with the 5 basic elements of Thai cooking: salty, sweet, spicy, and sour.
“Food is about the moment. Where you are, what you do, who you are with.” Says Christi. Food is more than just the taste in your mouth, but a whole sensory experience and that is why they always try something new in another country. Truly embracing everything they can while they’re there.
Nico always brings back his heritage in his food, where Christi experiments with what she’s seen and tasted around the world. A staple in their house every second or third night, is delicious lemon chicken wings. “Not just your average chicken wings, the most delicious delectable chicken wings you’ll ever eat” says Nico. We’ll take your word for it Nico, seeing that this recipe is a Panagio family secret. If it’s not the chicken wings, then they often braai espetadas, fillet and lamb chops with delicious sides.
“The beauty of a gas braai, is that you don’t have to choose according to what you want to braai if you can make it. A gas braai can do anything and is so easy to use” says Nico.
Pockets of celebration
In the Panagio family of four, Christi is their moment-maker. They believe in creating small pockets of celebration with each other or their two beautiful daughters, Evah and Shay. They both believe that you can’t wait for life to happen to be happy. To feel good about what you have. That, is in the normal day-to-day that you have to find your happiness. In their home, they’ve created spaces that allow for these moments. A cosy dining room with our Walden Cast Iron Fireplace, a patio with a breathtaking view for family dinners or just for reading a book on a Sunday afternoon. They spend a lot of time together, creating memories and immersing themselves in the moment.
“If there’s someone that can get excited about any get together, it’s Christi. She’ll make sure it’s memorable.” says Nico.
Getting to know this couple, there is one thing that you need to know. They will inspire you. They will entice you with their experiences. They will make you hungry from the recipes they’ve tried, tested, and perfected! They will make you proud to be South African, just with how they see the world.
Thank you Nico and Christi, for reminding us that to celebrate, you have to share. Create moments that matter.