Earlier this year, the Sandton Convention Centre (SCC) hosted the 10th BRICS Summit. Catering numbers ranged from 1200 to 9000 meals per day: “It was a mammoth undertaking!” says Chef James Khoza, SCC executive chef. We chatted with Chef James about the experience, as well as the creation of a very special presidential lunch.

The BRICS Summit delegates took part in meetings throughout the event, and were at the Sandton Convention Centre from early in the morning to late at night.  “The food and beverage requirements were based on logistics of all these meetings. The offering ranged from in-suite catering (VIPs), breakfast menus, snack menus, platters menu, finger fork menus, packed lunches for on-the-go eating, bowl food, conference packaged menus, tea and coffee craft stations, cocktail menus, dinner buffets as well as banquet-style plated set menus,” says Chef James. “In addition, we had to be mindful of catering for the crews from different governmental departments as well as security and media. It’s a complex setup which needs a lot of attention to detail along with information platforms that are updated every minute and must be checked by all service staff at all times.”

One particularly special lunch that was served during the summit was created for the visiting heads of state. Showcasing the fine dining skills of the convention centre team, the three-course lunch not only had to have an African flavour, but also had to appeal to the Heads of State, each of whom come from very different countries. “We went for local ingredients that appealed to all delegates attending the summit by showcasing South African ingredients to the international palate,” he said.

The three-course menu, which has been adapted and is currently available as part of the SCC’s end-of-year package, includes:

  • Baked African fishcake in coconut brioche crust, Cape Malay pickle, cucumber riata, spicy corn salad
  • Grilled rack of lamb, dried cherry jus, caramelised onion and polenta tart, char-grilled vegetables
  • Banana and custard tart, chocolate torte

“It was a privilege, an honour and an amazing educational experience for the Sandton Convention Centre team,” says Chef James about the experience. “Once we wrapped up the event, the air of accomplishment and satisfaction was plainly obvious in all those who made the BRICS Summit a success.”