As the Queen walked over to the lounge in her beautiful, wide-brimmed hat, I realised I'd just been speaking to the Queen of England. She was sweet and caring, with a warm family feel about her - obviously very well spoken, yet I'd felt like I was speaking to my gran. How does all that power and influence fit into one lovely, caring lady, I wondered.
Brett Ladds' cooking has made Quincy Jones sing, his kindness has charmed the likes of Tony Blair and King Mswati III, and his humanity has won over hard-bitten bodyguards.
For many years he also served Nelson Mandela many cups of rooibos tea and made him his favourite meals. As executive chef of the South African government and manager of the Presidential Guesthouse in Pretoria from 1994 to 1999, Ladds was responsible for serving both Mandela and his successor, Thabo Mbeki.
His stories about meeting kings and queens, presidents, musicians, supermodels and even the Pope are laced with his trademark self-deprecating humour. Ladds' disarming honesty is as funny as it is touching.
The Madiba Appreciation Club offers a heart-warming insider's view on what it takes to look after a head of state and tells of a young man's coming of age at a turning point in our history.