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Celebrities, media personalities and serious punters are set to enjoy gourmet morsels, whisky-laced drinks and plenty of fun and games at the exclusive J&B marquee at today’s social calendar highlight, the J&B Met.
Guests will be treated to an array of food, from fresh oysters and sushi on arrival, to burgers and prego rolls to counteract the bar offerings in the late afternoon.
And the good news is that the threatened strike by the SA Grooms Association, which could have disrupted the big event, was called off late on Friday.
Friday morning the association sent out an e-mail outlining the grooms’ grievances, charging that “horses are more important than the people who look after them”.
But late on Friday the association’s Chophelikaya Simoto told Weekend Argus the strike had been called off in favour of a meeting to discuss their grievances, which had been set up for Tuesday in Pretoria.
The meeting would include representatives from the National Horseracing Authority, the National Gambling Board and his association.
Attempts to reach the NHA on Friday afternoon for confirmation were unsuccessful.
Knights Catering, which has catered the main marquee at the J&B Met for the past 22 years, has brought in 150kg of vegetables and fresh produce, 285kg of beef and chicken, along with 150kg of seafood and fish for the lucky guests. They are also creating 1 800 desserts.
Albert Dreyer, a managing member at the catering company, said they did not take the “Made to Fly” theme too literally. “We looked at food trends. South American food is on the up, so what would be better than ceviche?” he asked.
The Peruvian-inspired cold kitchen offers a buffet of salmon and tuna ceviche, and other seafood and salads. Chillis, coriander and peppers are featured flavours.
A short order kitchen will offer grilled items like peppered fillet, boerewors and Thai spiced wing kebabs, while other meats will be served with potato or sweet potato fries. Dreyer said kebabs were trending.
Continuing with the Latin American theme, guests up for something more spicy can enjoy the Cuban/Mexican kitchen, with food served from a wood-fired oven – offering quesadillas, nachos and enchiladas. A pizza bar will also turn out pizzas from wood-fired ovens from arrival to close.
Dessert will be served from aeroplane-type trolleys, served by waitresses dressed as air hostesses, complete with coiffed hair.
Coffee and ice cream will be available all day.
Dreyer said the ice cream bar looked like a children’s fantasy store, with toppings from M&Ms and chocolate, to jelly tots and vermicelli.
The marquee itself was in pre-production for a month for its basic structure. Decorations include 70 scatter cushions, two eight-ton trucks worth of furniture, two eight-ton trucks worth of set equipment, 1.5km of ribbon and one eight-ton truck worth of technical equipment such as lighting and speakers.
Juaan Ferreira, of events agency Sonic State, said there were four areas for guests, one an outdoor area facing the race track where guests can lounge on day beds.
Giulia Odendaal, of Leg Studios, described the colour pallette of the marquee as “groundbreaking”.
“It is not just the red, yellow and black of the brand. We added neons and blue to upgrade it into a groundbreaking pallette,” she said. The theme was incorporated into forms and installations with cloud-like trees and ribbon criss-crossing.
There are also two innovative photo “booths”, one a trampoline for guests to jump on and the other with fans to assure good hair shots.
And when it all gets too much there is, as always, a beauty area serving up massages, hair styling and make-up. – Additional reporting by Bianca Capazorio