Coffee, food keep election centre going
Pretoria - Forty thousand cups of coffee and about three tons of food will keep officials, observers, political parties and journalists fuelled for the countdown to the final election results at the election results centre in Tshwane.
"We don't throw any coffee away because it gets drunk too quickly," said Warwick Sagar, operations director for Delmont Caldow Caterers, who won the tender to provide food and refreshments.
Five coffee brewing machines are constantly replenishing stocks laid out in vacuum flasks at tables around the centre, which also contain flasks of hot water, milk and Rooibos and Five Roses tea.
IEC officials, like chief electoral officer Pansy Tlakula have a wider choice of beverage to calm their frayed nerves with Twinings, fusion teas and Darjeeling, with honey, on offer to them.
Alcohol is available in the VIP area, but said Sagar, there were few takers and they had not finished even one bottle of whiskey there the whole week.
There is no other discrimination between the "VIP" and the "commoner" at the centre, with each offered the same choice of meal.
"Our brief was 'healthy, balanced, not fatty'," said Sagar.
The food should not contain preservatives, and there had to be pap on offer at every meal.
They anticipate the consumption at around 100kg of pap.
On the menu on Thursday evening was roasted rump, chicken kebabs, potatoes, salads, green beans and spinach, with a pudding afterwards.
The food is prepared in a satellite kitchen about 500m away from the dining hall, and is transported over in two three-ton trucks, ready to serve.
The crockery and cutlery is driven away to Johannesburg every night where it is washed by up to 30 dishwashers, with a full set of about 4 000 plates, knives, forks, spoons and glasses left at the centre for the next day while that is done.
Twenty "laundry ladies" wash and dry the white table cloths on every table and about 50 waiters discreetly clear tables during the settings.
Vegetarian, halaal and kosher meals are brought in separately by specialist suppliers.
"It's really something special. It is one of the biggest events we do and requires work and concentration," said Sagar.