For the Centre’s most recent menu Honest Goodness, executive chef Gavin Robertson partnered with leading nutritional experts from the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI), the University of Adelaide, and the CSIRO’s Health and Biosecurity unit to put an emphasis on minimal intervention foods and a reduction of salts, sugars and preservatives.
Robertson and his 75 strong kitchen team have reduced salts by replacing them with rubs and spices and swapped 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, they use natural rubs and house-made marinades to enhance flavour. In addition, cured and processed meats, which are traditionally high in nitrates, have been exchanged for in-house smoked and roasted meats.
Innovation has been core to the Adelaide Convention Centre experience from the very beginning, says the Centre’s general manager Simon Burgess.
“When it comes to food trends, we’ve certainly worked to keep ahead of the curve. With this new menu, we haven’t necessarily ‘changed’ our food, rather we’ve adapted it and the way we prepare it to mirror our new menu philosophy – Honest Goodness,” he says.
Although Burgess says there has been growing public conversation on the importance of good nutrition, he maintains the new menu is not specifically about health.
“Honest Goodness is still occasion food,” he says. “You’ll find desserts and other treats included on the menu, we’ve just changed the way they are prepared.”
The Centre worked with Professor Gary Wittert (SAHMRI / University of Adelaide) and senior research dietitian Pennie Taylor (CSIRO), in a partnership Robertson describes “a true collaboration”.
“It’s important to emphasise that,” Robertson says. “It wasn’t simply a matter of having them read over the menu once, rather involved regular, ongoing and open consultation.
“Professor Wittert provided a large brief as to what we should be focusing on when it comes to good public nutrition, and was a valuable sounding board when it came to discussing which ingredients were allowed and which weren’t. Taylor played a helpful role in educating our team on alternatives to refined white sugars, salts, margarines and other processed elements, which is the focal point for our philosophy.
“Launching the menu after six months of hard work and many drafts to such positive reviews has brought great satisfaction. It’s been a challenging but rewarding journey so far, and we’re excited to continue to develop the concept.”
Simon’s menu favourites
“Personally, I can’t look past a great lamb shank, so that’s a natural standout for me. I recently attended a breakfast at the Centre where we offered guests an early taste of our new Honest Goodness menu. I really enjoyed the poached free range Kangaroo Island eggs and poached salmon (served with watercress, rocket and pomegranate salad, saltbush tomatoes and house-made focaccia). It was such a tasty way to start the day and something I encourage our clients to try.”
Gavin’s top menu picks
“For dinner, I’d start with the seared Southern Ocean tuna with togarashi, miso milk, wakame, cucumber, puffed wild rice and fried nori for entrée – a great mix of flavour profiles and textures. This would be followed by oven-roasted fillet of beef and pressed cheek, wild mushrooms, grilled eggplant, confit tomato and potato puree with stout-infused jus, a dish full of with great earthy flavours. To finish, I’d cap it off with the Chocolate plate – chocolate brownie, mousse, meringue and soil with raspberry gel – it is occasion food after all. They say you eat with your eyes; this dish ticks all the boxes, plus we had fun creating it!”