The Adelaide Convention Centre has transformed its menu with scientific help from its neighbours in South Australia’s Biomed City precinct.
Being located alongside of one of the largest health hubs in the Southern Hemisphere has meant the Adelaide Convention Centre has attracted many medical conferences and the participants have increasingly asked for more nutritious food to replace the standard fried fare usually associated with conventions.
Responding to the requests, Adelaide Convention Centre General Manager Simon Burgess decided to ask the nutritional experts at the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI) and the CSIRO next door for help.
The result was a completely revamped menu called “Honest Goodness” that emphasises minimal intervention foods and reduces the use of salts, sugars and preservatives.
“Our new menu brings the public nutrition message to the forefront. We’ve hosted a number of key Asia-Pacific nutrition conferences, and were increasingly being asked for healthier menu options,” Burgess said.
“This, coupled with the growing number of medical-related conferences coming to Adelaide and increased public awareness on mindful eating, was certainly the catalyst for developing this menu.”
The menu was created by the Adelaide Convention Centre’s Executive Chef Gavin Robertson in consultation with Professor Gary Wittert of SAHMRI, and Senior Dietitian Pennie Taylor from the CSIRO’s Health and Biosecurity unit.
The new menu features nutrient-dense, whole foods sourced from local environments. Ingredients are prepared in-house by the centre’s 75 chefs.
“We listened to our clients, handpicked the best of regional produce and engaged with local artisan producers to develop a menu that is not only distinctly South Australian but full of flavour,” said Robertson.
“The emphasis is very much on ‘house-made’ and replacing processed elements with whole, fresh ingredients.”
Robertson and his team have reduced salts by replacing them with rubs and spices and swapped out sugar-laden drinks for house-made iced teas and fruit-infused waters. There’s also a strong focus on ‘preservative free’. Instead of using ingredients featuring nitrates, synthetic food preservatives or other additives, the Honest Goodness menu features natural rubs and house-made marinades to enhance flavour. Cured and processed meats, which are traditionally high in nitrates, have been exchanged for in-house smoked and roasted meats.
Professor Wittert said Prof Wittert said the team was conscious of keeping treats such as chocolate and desserts on the menu because conventions were an occasion for people to treat themselves.
He said the new menu was a collaboration between people from different professional backgrounds to achieve an outcome good for public health and good for business.
“The new Adelaide Convention Centre menu shows that it is possible, even when catering for very large groups, to source and cook fresh, whole or minimally processed foods to make tasty, enjoyable and creative meals, while retaining choice,” he said.
“Best of all, we get to taste prime South Australian produce, wherever possible, farmed sustainably and with ethical practices.”
Burgess said the menu was priced competitively with morning breaks priced at AUD$11 per person and a normal stand up lunch at $42.
He said a sample breakfast would include poached free range Kangaroo Island eggs and poached salmon with watercress, rocket and pomegranate salad, saltbush tomatoes and house-made focaccia, while a dinner would be braised beef cheek, sweet potato mousseline, grilled root vegetables and black pepper sauce.
Medical conferences now account for about a third of the centre’s business. It will host more than a dozen specifically medical conferences with more than 1000 delegates each in the next two years.
Burgess said having the health hub as a neighbour along the city’s Riverbank had led to an estimated 10 per cent increase in medical conference inquiries.