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There are a few emails I receive daily that get priority attention, especially invitations. Eating the best of best foods is something I can’t say no to, it’s my favourite part of the job. When I got this email however, there was a hint of doubt – “Are you up for a challenge? We would like to officially invite you to a chefs experience with a healthy spin. The chefs on the “Tsogo Sun Sandton Mile” have devised a menu that will blow your sports socks off. So please join us for a flavoursome, tantalising and freshly-prepared dining experience that will leave you energised and inspired to bench-press your way to a healthier lifestyle!” Flavoursome, tantalising and healthy all in one? It just doesn’t sound plausible. But boy was I in for a surprise.

The tables were decorated in white and different hues of green. The clean, fresh feel was so warm and welcoming, I was excited from the moment we walked in.

Just as the excitement hit however, I was reminded about what exactly this day entailed – healthy food and not just healthy food, but food specifically chosen for athletes attending the Arnold Classic Africa. Now don’t get me wrong, I was still very excited, but the skeptical side of me was leaning towards being disappointed. I was already picturing the 6 egg whites in a glass with a side of peanut butter flavoured oats… I’m no bodybuilder, so this thought definitely didn’t get my taste buds screaming. Luckily the menu was neatly laid out on arrival and after scanning it thoroughly, I didn’t find any sign of raw egg whites or oats.

The fresh green vegetables that were used as table décor, emphasised the core focus of the day – healthy eating and how important this is to the passionate sportsman and I have to admit, it looked quite appetising.

Where bread and butter or cheese usually welcomes restaurant-goers, we were treated to healthier alternatives – gluten-free, rye, ash-infused and seeded. Along with this there was a variety of spreads – tzatziki, baba ghanoush and hummus. It’s the attention to detail in this, something that is sometimes overlooked, and proves how much effort went into the creation of this menu.

Sandton Convention Centre’s Executive Chef, James Khoza welcomed us and introduced his team. It didn’t take long for him to eliminate my fear of bland, tasteless protein-filled foods. I was soon tapping my foot in anticipation, because although it was clear that they would live up to their challenge, I now wanted to know how they would exceed my expectations. It would be impossible to recreate this culinary experience into words, but know that I have learnt how big an impact fresh ingredients can have when combined with a little originality.

To summarise the food of the day, I have put together a little table in order of what was served to the special guests. Combine this with the hashtag of the day (which was trending by the way) and you’ll get a pretty good idea of what an experience it was. To check out the hashtags, visit Twitter or Instagram and search for #TsogoCulinaryExperience and/or #TsogoSandtonMile. Keep this in mind when planning your next event, especially if you need something a little different done well.

Canapés

Rice paper vegetable spring roll, homemade crackers, lemongrass and wheatgrass oyster shot.

Matcha Gin and Tonic

1st Course

Chicken breast poached in coconut milk, lemongrass and ginger with Thai rice noodles, kale and Edamame beans.

Fruity cocktail

2nd Course

Seared Salmon, beetroot tapioca, pickled beetroot, beetroot shot, cauliflower puree. Beetroot and ginger shot on slanted ice.

Palete Cleanser

Guava sorbet on pomegranate arils with dry mango.

3rd Course

Ostrich fillet, poached quail egg, sweet potato soufflé, green beans, broccoli stems, brown rice, whey protein spuma, avo & walnut salad.

Haute Cabriere Unwooded Pinot Noir

Dessert

Peanut butter protein parfait, caramalised seed bark and spiced pumpkin frozen yoghurt

Chai and chia seed smoothie.

There is a reason Tsogo Sun invested their time, effort and money in four flagship properties in the richest square mile on the African continent – Sandton Convention Centre, Sandton Sun, InterContinental Johannesburg Sandton Towers and Garden Court Sandton City. Tsogo Sun knows what they’re doing, they know how to deliver on a promise and how to go the extra mile. I have attended four events, big and small, at the Sandton Convention Centre and every single time they have managed to impress.

Thank you Tsogo Sun, Sandton Convention Centre and Strat PR for a very different kind of healthy culinary experience, I hope my memorable experience inspires many more event planners to make use of the Tsogo Sun chefs’ imagination.

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