Event Showcase: Inspire EX gala dinner

This week we are excited to share with you a very special event showcase - a gala dinner for 160 event professionals, which was put on as part of the Inspire EX VIP Hosted Buyers programme. Inspire EX is a two-day industry exhibition designed for those looking for corporate or special event solutions. This year, the team at Inspire Ex put on an exciting programme of events and activities, which included a gala dinner at the Sydney Town Hall. It was a chance for partnering venues and suppliers in Sydney to showcase their services to key clients in an engaging and interactive way.

Let’s face it, event buyers are generally pretty busy and often hard to get hold of. They are also hard people to impress – not only have they seen it all when it comes to events and entertaining, but they are also very analytical when they attend showcase events such as this. Can they apply what they are experiencing to their own events? Will their own clients be as impressed?

So when the Inspire EX team managed to get 160 guests to Sydney Town Hall last Monday night, the suppliers involved were not going to do things by halves. It was time to pull out all the stops and inspire the buyers in a way that would have them talking long after they had left for the night.

Monique from Camera Creations, the official photographer for Inspire EX, noted that “When the guests arrived at the Centennial Hall they found it quite breath taking. Guests stopped for several minutes to take it all in and just stood for a while in awe”. A guest we spoke to the following day went on to say, “It was amazing, throughout the night it just kept building, it got better and better.”

With such a buzz around the event we just had to find out more…

Inspire Ex Dinner arrival

Hosted by City of Sydney, and in conjunction with the Sydney Town Hall's exclusive caterers, Restaurant Associates, the venue was turned into a magical setting. Two long banquet tables were set down the middle of the stunning Centennial Hall. The venue can accommodate 800 guests comfortably for a banquet dinner – that is big! However, by adding some theatrical smoke at ground level, the space immediately appeared intimate and inviting for the smaller crowd.

Decorative Events and Exhibitions (DE&E) were on board for the event, which always meant the styling was going to be sophisticated and smart. The theme for the night was 'from sea to land’, and with the room washed with blue light and the smoke hovering like an ocean mist, the tables rose majestically like the land from the sea.

With the scene set, DE&E used a combination of textured layers to enhance the table settings. Lynleigh McPherson, DE&E’s Director of Sales and Marketing, describes the table centrepieces in more detail: “In keeping with the ‘sea to land’ theme, the ocean was symbolised with the creation of beautifully haunting tendrils of aloe vera accented with reflective mirror surfaces. The elongated hakea pods of the Australian natives atop raw timber slices, represented the land emerging from the bluest of sea mists”.

Guests enjoying gala dinner at Sydney Town Hall

Once guests were seated, it was time for Restaurant Associates and their Head Chef, Dominique Heitz, to step up to the plate. Restaurant Associates showcased a billiantly themed menu, starting with a seafood entree. Many attendees we spoke to the following day described the meal as “the best food EVER”. As you can see below, the seafood platter looked spectacular!

Entrée included:
Harvey Bay scallop with finger lime
Oysters and ginger
Mud crab, avocado and raw baby root vegetables
Tuna, sea urchin and ponzu
Lobster cocktail
King fish sashimi, mandarin and konbu

Matched with Pommery Champagne

From all reports, the highlight was the sea urchin – delicate, refined and utterly delicious! 

From the sea inspired entrée by Restaurant Associated

With guests now truly feeling enchanted by the sea, it was time for the main course… from the land. 

Short rib, fillet and rump cap 
Fennel and pepper berry, truffle salt, bone marrow crumb 
Condiments served alongside included native pepper berry béarnaise, potato puree, whole pumpkin and burnt onion, red wine butter, crispy kale and lemon and almond, rosemary bread

Matched with Mitolo ‘Angela’ Shiraz

Impressive dinner service by Restaurant Associates

Following dinner, the guests were invited to the Vestibule, a gorgeous space adjacent to the dinner venue. Here, DE&E set to work to create a stylish post-dinner dessert and cocktail bar.

Showcasing their new design trend, ‘Sunburnt Australia’, DE&E created a design that evoked a real sense of the Australian bush. Lynleigh explains, “The design incorporated our new raw timber range of cocktail and tapas tables as well as our timber cabana structures, drawing upon the earthy tones of the outback. The raw timber was complimented with a colour palette of rich dusty orange, dense greens of the Australian bush, and a deep charcoal grey that represented the silvery clouds that loom above, threatening to break into a summer storm.”

Post-dinner cocktail and dessert parlour

With the scene set, the dessert bar shone, featuring a range of delectable treats including….

Lamington and port 
Liquid nitro ice cream, raspberry, Nutella 
Mixed doughnuts 
Yoghurt, rhubarb and fennel pots
Chocolate platter 

We have heard, however, that the real star of the post-dinner party were two dashing pilots making cocktails… The humorous pair, who appeared to have made a few cocktails for themselves (all part of the act), had guests in good spirits and finished the evening on a high.

We love hearing about showcase events that are executed with such style and class. When you have the opportunity to host potential clients, pulling out all the stops is a must. Making such a lasting impression is a huge accomplishment and all parties involved with this gala dinner should be very proud. 

A big round of applause for City of Sydney, Restaurant Associates, Decorative Events & Exhibitions, Apples & Pears Entertainment and Events and, of course, the team at Inspire EX. A very big thank you also to Monique from Camera Creations for capturing the event so beautifully.