Behind the Bar with Peter Rowland’s Major Events team

Behind the Bar with Peter Rowland’s Major Events team

Peter Rowland Catering has been a shining light in the hospitality industry for over 50 years and an intrinsic part of Melbourne’s food culture. This multi-faceted business goes beyond event catering to include retail solutions, hospitality consulting, restaurant, café and venue management.

With a team of chefs, food designers, stylists, event producers and hospitality managers, Peter Rowland is fully equipped and experienced in delivering events – of any style and scale.  

Urbanbar recently spoke with the Major Events Team, to talk all things events.


Peter Rowland is renowned for delivering successful events, some being on a massive scale such as the Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix and the Spring Racing Carnival. What is it about the company that you think makes Peter Rowland so good at running these events?

The cumulative event experience across the business is massive. Peter Rowland Catering (PRC) has been at the Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix since 1996 and at the Melbourne Cup Carnival since 1962. 

We have key teams working together for months before planning and preparing for the major events and our operations know-how is second to none. We have a core group of experienced operations personnel, who work our major events and many of our greenfield site events and pop ups like Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Festival, Bank of Melbourne World's Longest Lunch, Kooyong Classic, Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix and the Australian International Airshow.

The overwhelming feedback from our events is that the service we provide is amazing.


When it comes to making an event work, what’s more important: being exact or being flexible?

In the planning and pre-event stage being precise and exact is crucial to understanding what the client wants and how best we can meet that. Attention to detail of all elements of the event is critical and communicating that information to the necessary people effectively is so important.

During the actual event, flexibility is important. Situations change, things happen out of our control – weather changes, timing changes, speeches go over time, extra guests arrive or dietary requests come through last minute – so you have to be able to roll with the punches and adapt quickly.


How do you support your staff when it comes to managing their energy on busy weeks with long nights and late finishes?

It begins with making sure our staff members are rostered with enough time to recover between shifts. Our staff are central to what we deliver, so encouraging them, saying thank you and sharing positive feedback are key to making them feel like they are contributing to the overall event success.

Keeping an eye on their wellbeing with regards to water and food is also important on long days and especially hot days when they might be outside. At the Melbourne Cup Carnival we do a daily BBQ where staff can come and get something to eat on their break, sit-down and take some time out.


What’s your take on the main events trends to watch out for this year?

Everything we do can be completely customised to the event – our Creative Design Manager creates event concepts and styling, bringing attention to every aspect; decor, uniforms, drinks, artwork, flowers…

We like to look at each event and client brief with the idea of customising the concept and making it as unique to them as possible and incorporating trends where relevant.

Installations and sculptures are as popular as ever – as is left- of- centre florals and greenery. Clients really want to have something unique and memorable about their event that is going to be instagrammed!


What’s personally been your favourite event experience with Peter Rowland so far?

That’s a hard one. How do you choose between the glamour of the Melbourne Cup Carnival and Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Festival or the buzz of the Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix? Or major exhibition openings at ACMI and the National Gallery of Victoria and gorgeous marquee weddings in amazing locations. I think the scale and pace of the Melbourne Cup Carnival and Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix are second to none. Seeing months of work come together – 3,000 staff in the right place at the right time, delivering our food – is pretty spectacular.


How much of an impact do uniforms have on the overall style and presentation of an event?

They are really important, gone are the days of the white shirt, black tie and waiters jacket. Uniforms are another way to communicate the ‘look and feel’ of the event. They will influence how people perceive the environment, the service style, and the experience. Uniforms are as important as the music, the food you serve and the fit-out of the location.


Finally, what’s your perfect after-work drink?

We would have to say a Peter’s Margarita is the ultimate post-work cocktail. A refreshing take on the classic margarita – it always hits the spot.

Special thanks to Camilla Hartl and Gemma Maybury from Peter Rowland Catering’s Major Events team for taking part in this special Behind the Bar interview with Urbanbar Design. For information on any events Peter Rowland style, contact the team here 

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