Man­dela chef, con­fi­dant spills the beans

The Star Early Edition - - NEWS - VUSI ADONIS

BRETT Ladds has led a much sto­ried life; a life dur­ing which he has made many friends and rubbed shoul­ders with some of the world’s most fa­mous per­son­al­i­ties.

This, of course, is no sur­prise, con­sid­er­ing he was in the em­ploy of none other than the Pres­i­den­tial Guest House in Pre­to­ria dur­ing the time of Nel­son Man­dela.

There is a wide smile on his face at the very men­tion of Madiba and, by his own ad­mis­sion, Ladds could spend hours re­gal­ing me with sto­ries from his time work­ing for the for­mer pres­i­dent. One such tale is of the first in­stance he found him­self alone in a room with Madiba. He rec­ol­lects: “I was ca­su­ally walk­ing around the house un­der the im­pres­sion that I was alone. I heard a voice that asked ‘Who’s there?’

“I stopped dead in my tracks. I half con­sid­ered tak­ing off my shoes and sneak­ing back to where I came from. I sheep­ishly walked into the room and there he was, the most fa­mous man on the planet. I was so ner­vous, but his charisma and nat­u­ral charm soon set me at ease.”

Ladds would go on to build a spe­cial re­la­tion­ship with Man­dela, one he said would also shape his in­ter­ac­tions with his own em­ploy­ees when he later made his foray into busi­ness. The ca­ma­raderie is quite ev­i­dent when you see him work­ing in his kitchen. “We are fam­ily, we spend 12 to 14 hours of our day to­gether so it’s im­por­tant that we en­joy be­ing around each other,” he says.

Other than be­ing a chef, Ladds has added the ti­tle of “au­thor” to his reper­toire. His book, en­ti­tled Man­dela – My Jour­ney, is out, and he laments: “I made so many friends there. I learnt so much, the body­guards, the staff and ev­ery­body. That’s why I wrote my book, (as) you never get to hear about the peo­ple be­hind the scenes and how much they gave up and contributed. I just want to bring them to the fore­front and ac­knowl­edge them.”

Ladds is host­ing Man­dela Day cel­e­bra­tions to­day at his restau­rant, Chefs@Five Sixty Six, in Serene Street, Gars­fontein. There will be ac­tiv­i­ties in­clud­ing a Pre­to­ria News break­fast, a kids’ cup­cake de­sign sta­tion, live mu­sic and a 3D Man­dela show. Ladds will also read an ex­cerpt from his book. All pro­ceeds will go to char­ity.

CHAR­ITY DAY: Phillip Humo and Brett Ladds out­side Ladds’s restau­rant Chefs@Five Sixty Six

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