IMB Bank is the major sponsor for a new look Illawarra Business Chamber Illawarra Business Awards in 2017 featuring the talents of celebrity chef Geoff Jansz.
Planning for the iconic event is well advanced to give everyone more time to shine an even greater light on the best businesses and leaders in the region’s five local government areas.
Diamonds are Forever will be the theme at WIN Entertainment Centre on October 20 but local produce will also be showcased as the Illawarra is put on a plate by Jansz who is designing a locally inspired menu especially for the occasion.
The star of television shows such as What’s Cooking, Fresh and Burke’s Backyard is designing a three-course meal based on his passion for freshness and originality.
“I went to school in the area. I grew up in the Illawarra, with its rich cultural heritage. My father had a business in Corrimal. I am excited because I can feel the memories of my childhood. In fact I have found businesses that are still there. And some of them are food businesses..so I plan on knocking on their doors..and see if we can weave them into the evening. I want to put some local meaning on the plate because it is the Illawarra awards and it is a great region,” he said.
Jansz cooked on television for 20 years career but said before multi-ethnic cooking was popular it had been happening in Wollongong for a long time. He said he even saw that in the school-yard swapping lunches as a child. “I had my first exposure to the huge diversity of cultures and cooking long before it became fashionable. I think this is the natural heartland of multi-cultural cooking for all of Australia. I intend to draw on these memories, along with scouring the region for new and interesting ingredients to present a menu that celebrates the Illawarra at its most prestigious awards evening”.
Illawarra Business Chamber executive director Chris Lamont said there were many new elements in 2017 as the region’s premier business awards were completely freshened up. There are new award categories recognising tourism, retail and hospitality and social enterprise.
Mr Lamont said preparations were well advanced and encouraged previous and new entrants to start working on their entries early to give themselves plenty of time. “We want as many businesses as possible to participate”.
Auditor of judging for 13 years Warwick Shanks, of KPMG Wollongong, and IMB Bank chief executive Robert Ryan encouraged everyone in business to seriously consider doing that in June when entries open.
“We are delighted to be naming rights sponsor for a second year and we recognise all the hard work and dedication that business people display every day. “The awards acknowledges the amazing commitment and entrepreneurship it takes to be successful. It is great that it is being kept fresh and alive. You don’t want to be repetitive. I think it is great what is happening,” Mr Ryan said.
Mr Shanks said he is looking forward to getting a great group of quality judges together again and building on the credibility of the annual celebration. He said many were like him and came back every year to learn about more of the many successful businesses who entered each year and many of the hidden gems in the region. And he hoped even more of those would be encouraged to enter in 2017.
Asked why he kept coming back to spend so much time on the judging process Mr Shanks said he also loved “the energy and enthusiasm on the night and seeing how genuinely excited the region is to celebrate business like we do sport...and be very proud of the businesses in our region. I get inspired every year”.
Winners in aligned categories will go on to represent the Illawarra at the NSW Business Chamber’s State Business Awards later.
“We want to get the best of what is on offer regionally,” Mr Lamont said.
“That is why we wanted to secure people like Geoff Jansz early and the judges and entertainment as well. Giving the sponsors a heads-up early is also good. The response from sponsors has already been fantastic.”
Mr Lamont said the awards would be far different to 2016’s circus theme.
“There will be more glitz and more glamour in a sit down affair with a three course meal. Without giving too much away there will be some interaction with the crowd through the evening. Wherever we can we want to showcase what the Illawarra has to offer. We are expecting north of 600 people.”
Mr Lamont said having Jansz involved was fantastic because he had such a prestigious reputation as a chef and an entertainer.
WIN Entertainment Centre’s Marc Swan said it was great to be able to host the biggest business event in the region again and do something so exciting with the food during a great evening of awards and entertainment.
Catering manager Isaac Palmer said it was fantastic to have the date so early and so much time to prepare. “Our team is really looking forward to working with Geoff and designing menus using Illawarra’s great ingredients”.