With 1,5 tonnes of meat and 3Ã‚Â 500 litres of ice cream consumed daily at the African National Congress’s conference in Limpopo, it came as no surprise that provisions had to be ”imported”.
There was not enough meat in Polokwane, so it had to be shipped in from Johannesburg and kept in cold storage near the venue, said Tinus Ferreira, general manager of the House of Bonne Cuisine.
About 6Ã‚Â 200 meals were served three times a day, including 1Ã‚Â 200 halaal meals. Delegates could choose between two kinds of meat, two vegetables and two starchy foods.
On the ANC-approved menu on Tuesday were pies, green beans, meat, mashed potatoes, coleslaw, Greek salad and samp.
The menu for the conference had been approved by the ANC’s steering committee three month’s in advance.
It would take a two-tonne truck eight trips between the conference venue at the University of Limpopo and an industrial kitchen where it was prepared, about 30 minute’s drive away, to cart all the food for a single meal.
This was partly due to the bulky plastic boxes the food was transported in to keep it warm and hygienic.
”There aren’t any leftovers,” Ferreira smiled. What little did remain, went to the catering staff and other workers on the campus.
Shortly before lunch on Wednesday, a weary-looking Ferreira stood in a receiving area next to the dining tent, shouting orders to his staff as the lunch began arriving.
”Pies, where’s the pies? Come bring the pots,” he shouted, wiping his hands on his apron.
A total of 526 staff was helping to keep delegates fed.
Four hundred of them came from the area and had been trained as waiters. They typically started work at 4am and finished at about 11pm.
Ten thousand plates were used every meal and Ferreira was happy that not that many had been broken.
”We lost 30 this morning, but otherwise the breakages have been very good.”
He said red meat was the favourite protein and heavy starches such as pap and samp were the popular carbohydrates.
”They’re not big on rice,” he said.
Ferreira was quick to dispel speculation that the conference could run into a sixth day.
”If they stay longer, I would have to get it [the meat], tomorrow [Wednesday]. No provision has been made for it,” he said.
”Realistically it’s impossible because my suppliers are closed for Christmas.”
Gaduka Thusi, a headmaster from a school in the North West, was full of praise for the arrangements.
”I haven’t seen serious shortages. The planning is good. They’re not wasting people’s time. The variety of food is wonderful. I haven’t heard a single plate break,” he said, tucking into his food. – Sapa