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Hainanese Dinner

A Congress and Gala Dinner on a grand scale

Over 1,700 local and international guests descended on Sydney Showground for the Biennial Global Congress of the Chinese island province of Hainan. The first evening at Sydney Showground involved a barbecue welcome reception. The second night was spent at the Sydney Opera House while the third and final day ended at Sydney Showground for the Congress, a cultural event and Gala Dinner.

Key challenges

This event had input from several committees including volunteer groups, an event organiser and a production company. All had differing concepts for the venue space, general theme, look, feel and catering.

Venue decisions and space utilisation altered regularly before final decisions were reached following recommendations from Sydney Showground. Throughout the planning stages, the Sydney Showground Executive Chef had to be readily available to liaise with the client on what could be achieved for the menu offerings in both scale and quantity for their budget.

Several site visits were undertaken by the various committees, by Hainan government officials and by the theming company with changes made at each point.

What we did

The Congress took place across several exhibition halls. Activities and performances were open for the public to attend with an outdoor market selling Chinese and Australian products to visitors. The market was forced inside due to bad weather, but the transition was smooth and almost unnoticed by attendees.

In the Dome, over 120 staff plus chefs, kitchen hands and supervising staff were engaged in service for the four-course Gala Dinner, plus chefs, kitchen hands and supervising staff. The first course served was Panko prawns with coriander, and poached lobster with avocado, shiso and soy gel. For entrée guests enjoyed smoked quail breast along with pressed chicken and tarragon terrine. Petuna ocean trout and Angus beef fillet were the main courses. The dessert course consisted of pavlova passion ice cream and a vibrant raspberry and pistachio dome.


Serving 1,700 guests lunch and dinner is never a simple task, but for Sydney Showground staff it is all in a day's work. Just as they have done so effectively in the past, once again, the team served a large number of high quality meals in a short period of time. The client said delegates found the event a great success. They were thrilled with the size of the venue and the multiple activities organised for their entertainment. International media attended, beaming images and footage into China and across Asia. Many Australian officials, including Leader of the Opposition, Bill Shorten, also enjoyed the evening.