Honest Goodness: SAHMRI collaborates with the Adelaide Convention Centre to transform event dining

21 Jun 2018
Honest Goodness: SAHMRI collaborates with the Adelaide Convention Centre to transform event dining

The Adelaide Convention Centre (ACC) will unveil its latest innovation next month (July, 2018) in the form of a fresh new menu, Honest Goodness. Developed in collaboration with leading nutritional experts from the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI), the University of Adelaide, and CSIRO, Health and Biosecurity, the new menu is set to transform the convention centre dining experience with its emphasis on minimal intervention foods and conscious reduction of salts, sugars and preservatives.

“Innovation has been core to the Adelaide Convention Centre experience from the very beginning,” says Simon Burgess, General Manager, Adelaide Convention Centre. “We’re thrilled to introduce Honest Goodness as our latest innovation. While a simple concept, we’re certain its focus on ‘feel good, whole food, made fresh’, will transform the event dining experience. We’re proud to support the public nutrition message, and view this heightened focus on mindful eating an important part of our community engagement.”

Designed with good nutrition in mind, Honest Goodness was created by the ACC’s Executive Chef Gavin Robertson in consultation with Professor Gary Wittert of SAHMRI / University of Adelaide, and Pennie Taylor of CSIRO’s Health and Biosecurity unit. Brimming with nutrient-dense, whole foods sourced from local environments, ingredients are prepared, in-house, by the ACC’s chefs to make restaurant-quality dishes that are vibrant in colour and bursting with flavour.

“Our team enthusiastically embraced the challenge of creating this menu as public nutrition is important to all of us,” comments Chef Gavin, who heads up the ACC’s team of 75 kitchen staff. “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. The emphasis is very much on ‘house-made’ and replacing processed elements with whole, fresh ingredients.”

To deliver on this commitment, Chef Gavin and his team have reduced salts by replacing them with rubs and spices, and swapped out sugar-laden drinks for house-made ice 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, Honest Goodness uses natural rubs and house made marinades to enhance flavour. In addition, cured meats, which are traditionally high in nitrates, have been exchanged for in-house smoked and roasted meats.

Beyond its focus on minimal intervention foods, other standout features of the new menu include:

  • Sensible Fats: Processed and manufactured fats and related substitutes have been replaced with natural animal and plant-based fats to create more balanced dishes, free from preservatives.
  • Low sugar and sodium: Honest Goodness focuses on the conscious reduction of refined white sugars, salts and processed sauces and dressings. Ingredients with traditionally high sugar volume have been replaced with house-made chutneys, sauces and dressings with lower sugar levels.
  • Sustainability:Honest Goodness reflects the ACC’s ongoing commitment to sourcing food from local, sustainable environments with 97 percent of produce used by the venue sourced from South Australia. In addition, as much as possible, featured produce has been responsibly farmed, sustainably produced and ethically sourced.
  • House-made: The ACC’s in-house chefs are actively involved in preparing all dishes served at the Centre. Chef Gavin has worked closely with artisan producers – from cheesemakers to bakers, butchers and fishermen – to ensure any outsourced ingredients have been prepared in keeping with the Centre’s Honest Goodness philosophy.

Professor Gary Wittert of the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI) and University of Adelaide comments: “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. And best of all, we get to taste prime South Australian produce, wherever possible, farmed sustainably and with ethical practices.” 

Wittert adds, “It seems to me this is science in action – open-minded collaboration between people from different professional backgrounds, achieving an outcome good for public health, good for business and good for South Australia”.


Photo: Professor Gary Wittert (SAHMRI), Gavin Robertson (Adelaide Convention Centre), Pennie Taylor (CSIRO) and Professor Alastair Burt (The University of Adelaide). Photographer: Paula Thompson, InDaily