Convention centre chef recalls plating up for Nelson Mandela

31 July 2017 - 17:38
By Suthentira Govender
Chef John Moatshe.
Image: Twitter/Durban ICC Chef John Moatshe.

His dishes have tantalised the tastebuds of statesmen like Nelson Mandela and Thabo Mbeki as well as those of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II.

Executive chef John Moatshe‚ has the bragging rights to feeding some of the most famous faces in the world during his 20-year tenure at Durban’s Inkosi Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre.

As the ICC prepares to mark its 20-years of existence on August 8‚ Moatshe is hard at work finalising an elaborate menu for a celebratory gala dinner.

Durban was the first South African city to establish an international convention centre‚ which has generated about R30-billion for the national economy after being built at a cost of R746-million.

Since its official opening by Mandela in 1997‚ heads of state‚ royalty‚ international performers‚ captains of industry and sporting luminaries have walked through its doors over the years.

Moatshe‚ who joined the ICC as a sous chef and worked his way up the ranks‚ can’t put in numbers the number of meals he has prepared or overseen.

“It’s probably tons‚ too many to count. I have met many famous people. The most outstanding memory for me was meeting Nelson Mandela.

“I prepared a simple meal of chicken and vegetables for him. If I can remember clearly‚ he loved his veggies. I’ve also been in the presence of the queen and Thabo Mbeki. It’s been a great 20 years‚” said Moatshe.

Numerous events which have positioned the ICC on the global conferencing map include‚ among others‚ the World Economic Forum on Africa‚ 21st International AIDS Conference‚ COP17/21‚ Tourism Indaba‚ 4th BRICS International Competition Conference‚ 14th World Forestry Congress‚ Africa Peace Awards‚ 21st World Routes Development Forum‚ 3rd World Social Science Forum‚ Global Forum for Innovations in Agriculture Africa 2015 and transformation of the Organisation of African Unity to the African Union.

“With its present size and configuration‚ the Durban ICC is poised to evolve into one of the world’s top 10 global meeting facilities. The next evolutionary growth cycle will usher in a series of revolutionary and innovative strategies‚” said Lindiwe Rakharebe‚ CEO of the ICC.