Honest Goodness: Adelaide Convention Centre Teams with Leading South Australian Nutritional Experts to Transform Event Dining

20th Sep, 2018
HQ discusses with Simon Burgess, General Manager, Adelaide Convention Centre & Gavin Robertson, Executive Chef, Adelaide Convention Centre about the venue's new campaign Honest Goodness.
  1. What prompted Adelaide Convention Centre’s latest innovation to be Honest Goodness – a fresh new menu?

SB: Innovation has been core to the Adelaide Convention Centre experience from the very beginning, and when it comes to food trends, we’ve certainly worked to keep ahead of the curve. With increased public conversation on mindful eating and growing demand for healthy conferencing, we wanted to get on the front foot and lead the way. We’ve hosted a number of key Asia-Pacific nutrition conferences and were increasingly being asked for healthier menu options.

In our business, it’s important to continuously evolve your menu, and that’s exactly what we’ve done with Honest Goodness.

  1. Can you share with us the centre’s Honest Goodness philosophy, and how public nutrition message can transform the convention centre event dining experience?

SB: Honest Goodness is a menu where nature is the hero. Best described as ‘feel good, whole food, made fresh’, it brings the public nutrition message to the forefront, celebrating food that not only tastes good but is good in every sense.

Developed by our Executive Chef, Gavin Robertson in collaboration with the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI), our new menu philosophy is focused on using minimal intervention foods and an unwavering commitment to ‘house-made’. It stands as evidence that it is possible to replace processed elements with fresh, whole ingredients to make restaurant-quality food for large scale events without compromising flavour.

Honest Goodness’ focus on minimal intervention foods and conscious reduction of salts, sugars and preservatives is transforming the convention centre culinary experience. To deliver on this commitment, salts have been reduced and replaced with rubs and spices, sugar laden drinks swapped for house-made ice teas and fruit-infused waters, and we’ve engaged with more local farmers and artisan producers.

  1. Was client feedback taken into account when crafting the new menu?

SB: Client feedback was certainly a catalyst behind Honest Goodness, along with our own drive for innovation and to be a market-leader. Across the board, there’s been growing discussion about the importance of good nutrition, and we found we were increasingly being asked for healthier menu options.

We initially addressed this heightened focus on mindful eating through our Vitality menu – something we’d had in place for the past two years and was offered as an ‘option’ for event planners. While we experienced some traction with it, we wanted to develop the concept further.  Honest Goodness is not a ‘sub menu’, rather it is presented as our ‘main menu.’ We view our new spotlight on good nutrition an important part of our community engagement.

The early response to the menu from clients has been extremely positive.

  1. What are the considerations and challenges in designing a menu to cater for very large groups?

GR: There are several important considerations when it comes to reinventing a menu. At the ACC, our focus is on ensuring that we are keeping our menus on-trend and delivering restaurant-quality cuisine made from locally sourced and /or grown produce.  Food consumed during a conference plays such a huge part in the success of the event; it’s key to the delegate experience and aside from the conference program, is usually what guests remember most. It’s also one way you can give delegates a sense of the destination.

In South Australia, we’re spoilt for choice when it comes to access to incredible produce. Our Honest Goodness menu reflects this, offering guests a distinct taste of South Australia; 97 percent of produce we use is sourced locally.

As for other considerations and challenges, Honest Goodness was a unique situation as it was such a new approach for our team and changed the way we do business and present our food. It took a great deal of planning and required us to change the mindset of both our kitchen staff and suppliers. It was not without challenge, but both our team and suppliers have enthusiastically embraced the concept, with our suppliers even adapting their own processes and produce to fit our new menu philosophy.

  1. Gavin, please whet our readers’ appetite with some distinctly South Australian dishes from the exciting new menu.

  • Taste of South Australia – Spencer Gulf prawns, blue swimmer crab mousse, Smoky Bay oyster, kingfish ceviche, fennel pollen wafer

  • Maple-glazed Boston Bay pork belly, poached apple and pear salad, sesame orange dressing

  • Murraylands lamb rump, smashed minted pea, crushed Kipfler potatoes with semi-dried tomato pinot glaze

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