Mbulelo Mpofu, Chronicle Reporter
LOCAL wine wizard Joe Mangena feels honoured to lead a Japanese eatery situated at the Emirates Towers in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE) and relishes the prospects of winning an award at the What’s On Awards to be held in March.
What’s On Awards are Dubai and Abu Dhabi’s most prestigious restaurant, leisure and entertainment awards.
The Bulawayo-born sommelier is a manager at a Japanese restaurant, Gohan and the establishment has been nominated for two categories, favourite Japanese Restaurant and favourite bar.
Speaking to Chronicle Showbiz from his base in Dubai, Mangena relished the prospect of leading his team to the awards.
“The nominations mean a lot collectively. We’re a small multi-cultural team with impressive characters. Coming from a city like Bulawayo where there’s a lot of diversity, I bring in character and personality to the team.
La Cantine is an award-winning brand and ever-growing so there’s more to learn here and give.
“Cultural diversity contributes a lot and brings these brands to life; it doesn’t matter where they come from,” he said while urging Zimbabweans to vote.
The qualified sommelier relocated to the UAE eight years ago to pursue a career in food and winery after undergoing training in that field.
“My passion for wine and food developed overtime as I did a short course in Cape Town and worked for a few restaurants and hotels, but I always wanted to work abroad.
I then moved to Qatar in 2012 where I did my diploma with an American hotel and lodging educational institute then eventually landed in the UAE in 2014,” is how Mangena would narrate his journey to being ever-present in the UAE food industry.
Dubai and Abu Dhabi awards have categories that comprise of restaurants, entertainment, food concept, nightlife and leisure.
The timeline of the awards began with the registration on the 8th of November 2021, voting (online and physical) began on the 1st of December 2021 and will close on the 6th of February 2022.
The awards ceremony will be held across two cities, Abu Dhabi and Dubai on the 2nd and 28th of March respectively. — @eMKlass_49