Ton van Amerongen can throw a good party. But then he does have at his disposal one of the best venues in Australia along with some of the best chefs and fantastic technical, production and support crews.
To celebrate 25 years since the opening of the Sydney Convention & Exhibition Centre, Mr van Amerongen hosted around 400 guests from the conferencing, incentives, exhibitions and event industry, all of whom had some connection with the Centre over that period.
The event commenced in the Parkside pre-function area where guests were surrounded by panels showing the history of the Centre and a huge screen on which was showing a highlights reel covering the quarter century.
Not content with just delicious canapés, Executive Chef Uwe Habermehl and his team were serving fresh crab from a servery made from blocks of ice.
Guests were ushered into the Parkside Auditorium where following another showreel that reflected on “25 Remarkable, Inspirational, Exceptional years” CEO Ton van Amerongen welcomed guests and paid tribute to his staff as well as the three organisations behind the success of the Centre: joint operators Accor and Compass, the Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority and Business Events Sydney. But most importantly Mr van Amerongen thanked the people who booked the Centre over the past 25 years ‘for your trust and for your friendship’
MC Adam Spencer then reviewed the year the Centre opened, 1988 – the politics, the fashions, the people – and the opening of SCEC. Adam was then joined by Kate Smith, Ian Stuart and Jim Delahunty for their memories of events they had been involved in at the Centre.
Then it was over to the Parkside Ballroom for dinner. The room had been transformed by the Centre technical team with a thrust stage and seamless projections around the room.
An entertainment package put together by Out There Productions featured a couple of young singers Samantha Jade and Timomatic.
A video showing the action in the kitchen featured chefs wielding axes and a drill press, the results of which was the entrée of gazpacho in an ice bowl topped with marron tail alongside another slab of ice on which rested a confit of ocean trout, both of these ice blocks had a small light inside. These made a very impressive entrance to start the meal.
The main course was slow-roasted wagyu beef tenderloin – accompanied by Tyrrell’s Lunatiq Shiraz, which was chosen by the Centre’s Sommelier, William Wilson who also matched a Tyrrell’s Belford Semillon to the first course and some wonderful dessert wines (and spirits) to the desserts that followed.
Many in the industry have their own war stories about the early days of SCEC and many more now have wonderful success stories from the latter years. And many of these stories were shared on the night.
I know that the industry overall will miss the wonderful team that have worked with Ton since he took over the CEO role in 1994 to steer the Centre to its maturity.
This night will be as well remembered by those in attendance for many years to come.
SCEC – Catering
SCEC – Technical Production
ExpoNet – exhibition stand panel design and construction
TDC – Ballroom projection and control, Foyer LCD towers
Chameleon – additional lighting and truss
Info Salons – RSVP coordination and registrations
Decorative Events – table decorations
Out There Productions – entertainment and ‘Amazing’ arrangement
Staging Rentals – Ballroom staging and screen surfaces, Auditorium draping