Caterer of the Year Events by Aria is about to embark on a major evolution. By Frank Leggett
Events by Aria, the catering business started by Matt Moran in 2010, took home the gong for Caterer of the Year at the 2017 Savour Australia Restaurant & Catering HOSTPLUS National Awards for Excellence.
“We’re so honoured by our recent wins at the NSW regionals and at last night’s national awards,” says general manager Holly Orsman Smith. “It’s so wonderful to be recognised.”
The win caps a massive year as the business has expanded and evolved in an exciting new direction. Matt Moran and his business partner, Bruce Solomon, merged the Matt Moran business with Solotel 18 months ago. Once their businesses came together, the new catering and event company had access to a variety of different properties and the ability to offer their clients a huge range of diversity. This saw the evolution of Events by Aria into Together with Solotel earlier this year.
Previously they operated in a large number of impressive and unique venues that were able to cater for large or small events. These included the Sydney Opera House, the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Paddington Town Hall and Australian Technology Park at the old Eveleigh Railway Yards. Now, operating as Together with Solotel, they can also offer customers over 30 different venues across Sydney and Brisbane. The company operates a diverse range of pubs, restaurants and venues including Aria in both Sydney and Brisbane, Riverbar & Kitchen in Brisbane, The Sheaf in Double Bay, the Clovelly Hotel, Chiswick and North Bondi Fish. Clients can choose to hold an event in any of the dedicated event spaces at any of their many venues.
“We’re also launching two new properties that should be open by the end of the year,” says Orsman Smith. ”One is Barangaroo House, an incredible free-standing property at Barangaroo in Sydney with three levels of food and drink experiences. The other is Little Big House, a beautiful, restored Queenslander that we’re turning into a really fun pub in Southbank, Brisbane.”
While the food is prepared on site by head chefs whenever possible, the company also owns a production kitchen that is particularly useful for large events. This allows them to be flexible and responsive no matter what the occasion.
A recent catering job for a financial institution held at Carriageworks in Sydney was a truly massive undertaking. They catered to 20,000 people over a six-day period with their team working 24/7 for most of that time. Each day would bring its own demands and required precise logistics. One day they could be required to provide a two-course lunch for 400 people, while another day might need cocktails, canape food and a three-course menu for 9000 people.
“I attribute our success to the fact that our team can competently and efficiently handle an event of any size,” says Orsman Smith. “We have such an amazing talent pool of people in our broader business, covering food, dining and beverages. Our event team and executive chefs are incredibly creative.”
“We have such an amazing talent pool of people in our broader business, covering food, dining and beverages. Our event team and executive chefs are incredibly creative.”—Holly Orsman Smith, general manager, Events by Aria
Often clients request a narrative event based on one of their businesses. For example, ‘Chiswick’ can become ‘Chiswick outside’ on a beautiful garden lawn for a wedding. Menus can be customised along with the build, the look, the styling, the beverages—everything. Whatever a client can imagine, they can supply.
From small and intimate to large and impressive, size and scale are never a problem for this group of event experts. However, the team really comes into its own when undertaking massive events. The company is the hospitality partner for St. George OpenAir Cinema, a public event that is held in Sydney during January and February each year. They look after all the hospitality and over 90,000 customers are served during the six-week season.
“Our logistics team is large and do an incredible job,” says Orsman Smith. “It’s one thing to come up with a vision for the client, but the execution is where I believe our company is exceptional. Often we have teams running 24 hours a day. One team comes in and sets up, another team serves and executes, then another team comes in at night to pack down and prepare for the next day.”
Together with Solotel, they can now execute seven of their different brand experiences in any location, including the award-winning Aria brand. This will allow the company to offer a truly unique experience to their clients. Clients can request any concept in any location and their team of event planners will put together the exceptional.
“Our clients come to us because they know that we will deliver something very different,” says Orsman Smith. “Whether the theme is a midnight Midsummer Night’s Dream with everything based around black and purple, or a beautiful Aria wedding in the northern foyer of the concert hall in the Opera House, they are truly something to be seen. And I might add—the vision is one thing, the experience is another thing entirely.”
The transformation of Events by Aria into Together with Solotel was an exciting time for the business and their teams, and the company is kicking off 2018 with a huge event. They are the sole catering partner for the Barangaroo Reserve New Year’s Eve party. Ten thousand people will be in attendance and ready to celebrate!
Events by Aria built its success on outstanding, high-quality food and beverages served in dramatic environments where each client’s wish list is completely fulfilled. Together with Solotel has expanded on this success, setting the bar incredibly high for event catering in Australia.
“We can scale our business up and down for whatever the client needs,” says Orsman Smith. “Our business is very broad and our resource pool is exceptionally supportive. We can bring talent from wherever we need for whatever occasion. We create unique, iconic and beautiful experiences that are truly memorable and exceed the expectations of our clients.”