"I don't know what it is, but I dipped a finger in it and it tastes good!" "Are you knee-deep in broth?" "I'm so pleased we're wearing aprons as this is so slurpy!" This might not be typical business dialogue, but these and similar exclamations were par for the course at the Cape Town version of Ads24's Food For Thought event held on Wednesday, 10 October 2018 at the Nasdak.
Food For Thought is a carefully crafted conference, where you’re encouraged to do things differently from your fellow attendees – from the obvious thought processes and conclusions, to deciding which superfoods to blend into your coffee.
Speakers for the day included Clem Sunter, who spoke of the importance of keeping an eye on the top drivers changing the future in scenario planning, with attendees taking home a copy of his excellent Flag watching: How a fox decodes the future, as well as economist Dawie Roodt, who presented the condensed history of world economics attendees of the Johannesburg version of the event earlier in the year so loved.
The day’s dialogue director was Nick Binedell, strategist and professor at the Gordon Institute of Business Science, with former Sunday Times and current City Press editor, Mondli Makhanya, called up from his seat at the back of the room to engage in the debate at the end of the session.
But the fun started long before that, with attendees zooming up lifts to the 22nd floor of the Media24 building before catching a new lift to the 26th-floor ‘Nasdak’ – the Naspers dak (roof), where we were met with beautiful views over the city and harbour.
Padkos to get the nostalgia flowing
Once our eyes had adjusted to the brightness, we were delighted to note a ‘fill your own doughnut’ station, with ‘nostalgic packed’ flavours in the form of tiny toothpaste-like tubes of ‘strawberry Steri-Stumpie’, humbug, ‘guava-roll cream’, ‘peanut-butter and jam’ or ‘biltong and Melrose’, to either squirt as a filling or cover the top of the pastry of your choice.
The coffee station was also a treat for the senses.
Manned by a team from the Magnificent Barista Boys, we ordered up our hot caffeine of choice and then had a further choice of taking superfoods either in capsule form or as a powder to shake on top in various combinations.
For the energiser, a blend of turmeric and cacao was recommended; to fight anxiety, a blend of maca powder and hemp seeds; and for immune boosting, it was the magical mix of hemp seed and mushroom powder.
Suitably intrigued, on entering the main venue we were met with more than your standard conference setting.
Each seat held a main course menu of “spicy miso breakfast ramen,” including squares of fresh seaweed, grass-fed, chilli-and-mango braised pork belly, broth, wild mushrooms and crisp nori sheets, as well as a vegetarian option of fried silken tofu.
Build your own ramen bowl: A gastronomic adventure
Ads24 GM Ané Honiball explained it was all designed by Studio H, with the meal inspired by the beautiful South African landscape found along the N1.
When putting together the menu for the morning, they wanted to create something that represents a South African melting pot of cultures and tastes and so they drew on the Japanese ramen dish for inspiration, as historically, ramen is a nutritious peasant food that stretches limited resources into a substantial meal that sustains you throughout the day.
And so, we donned aprons and were pleased to find that the ham-coloured pottery curls were merely holding corn, and not flavouring it.
We also watched the ‘Ramen Master’ scene from Tampopo for inspiration before getting stuck in:
Then to build our own ramen miso bowls, we were presented with wooden boards topped with a number of items to add as per our individual flavour palates:
Everything from soy dressing to nori salt, Katsuobushi tuna or bonito flakes, toasted black sesame seeds, fried garlic powder, pickled ginger, Japanese five-spice, ginger spice, a green matcha crumble, fine red chilli, chopped spring onion, bok choi leaves and perfect 63-degree eggs.
The resulting bowls were complemented by bao filled with black-bean paste, to be dunked in the resulting warm broth. Personalised and delicious!
We tasted and talked about the flavours. That’s what food for thought is all about. It was sweet, spicy, warm, crunchy and salty, depending on what we had each elected to add to the bowl. And that's just the literal food for thought...
Leigh Andrews AKA the #MilkshakeQueen, is former Editor-in-Chief: Marketing & Media at Bizcommunity.com, with a passion for issues of diversity, inclusion and equality, and of course, gourmet food and drinks! She can be reached on Twitter at @Leigh_Andrews.