Friday at Sun was definitely a reduced productivity day, but with good reason. The marketing guys were holding an ‘Information Town Hall’ at The Castle in Kyalami and this was followed in the evening with a Kick-Off Dinner at Casalinga Ristorante. I attended the dinner.

Despite the distance we had to travel, about half an hour from Joburg or forty minutes from Pretoria, I arrived in time (!!) and headed into the venue to a warm welcome from those at the front entrance (of course I knew nobody, but it turns out that one of the people welcoming everyone, Vito Bonafede, is Sun’s Regional Director for Sub-Saharan Africa). Cool.

Paul Rotherham of Highveld Stereo and “Body on Tap” shampoo fame (he runs around with a basin washing stranger’s hair) was our master of ceremonies for the evening, giving things a good kickoff with a couple of jokes and a bit of sucking up to Sun – action as is befit anyone being paid a ton of money to talk for about ten minutes.

Vito then followed with a few words and a few awards, keeping his speech succint and to the point. At the same time a starter of assorted starter-type food was served. Not bad. This was followed with our choice of one of three dishes, the only two I can remember being a Salmon dish and Lamb Shank. This was where the evening fell horribly down. Despite everything else being excellent the food quality was extremely mediocre. Casalinga was very disappointing in this regard. Such an exclusive restaurant also has no business serving cheap vegetables such as blobs of grilled cabbage and spinach. Edible but sad. Dessert was a bit better, but then I strongly suspect the desserts were not created in-house.

To quell the disappointing food, however, there was another surprise in store with Melanie Lowe of Idols renown as well as two other vocal artists to provide us with some live entertainment. Mel, well, she was not that great – I’ve seen better performances at Charelli’s! The other two vocalists were really good – a pity I did not get their names.

After a bit of dancing the remainder of the crowd made their way to the bar area where we ended up sitting, standing and sharing stories for hours over drinks, and more drinks (and more drinks – on the company’s tab of course).

Attending this event was awesome for me as a new employee – I got to know my colleagues a bit better and it gave me a good feel for the “lay of the land” at my new company. Despite the downsides – mediocre food and a far distance to travel – the event was by far more positive than negative.