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Meet Ben Doncon

Ben Doncon
Melbourne Museum

Ben's role as a Venues Manager

Ben joined Compass in early 2016 to lead the mobilisation of the company’s new catering contract at Melbourne Museum.  With extensive experience in the "Arts and Leisure" hospitality space Ben was attracted to the Venue Manager role because of the creative energy of the venue and the variety and challenges offered by the new contract.

"This is a unique food and beverage operation," Ben said.

"We cater to a broad demographic from corporate functions and weddings to tourist, family and member based events. The Museum gives us the scope to be creative. Melbourne is so wine and food focused - it is really exciting to create a food synergy with the Museum’s showcase events."

Ben’s first passion is musical theatre, graduating from the West Australian Academy of Performing Arts in 2008, but while auditioning for roles and working part time in hospitality, he discovered a genuine interest in the catering and events industry.

"For 5 years I worked at the Melbourne Arts Centre," Ben said.

"It is the largest performing arts complex in Australia with 5 theatres, 14 foyer bars and 2 cafes – it was a great professional growth and development experience for me. Later I returned to Perth to manage the retail operations for a portfolio of venues including the Perth Convention & Exhibition Centre and NIB Stadium."

Compass' contract with the Melbourne Museum is through the company’s fine dining brand Restaurant Associates. The Venue Manager role combined all the elements Ben was looking for and the chance to return to the hospitality epicentre of Melbourne.

"Visitors to the Museum want to enjoy the experience from the moment they walk through the door and the catering is an important component of this. With an ever changing schedule of events and wide diversity of clientele, I work closely with our Executive Chef and marketing team to create unique catering packages and creative staging," Ben said.

"We do lots of themed events to support exhibitions and for special corporate events and weddings, but our core activity is the Museum café. When we won the contract in early 2016 we took possession of a tired and sterile space – with just 13 hours to mobilise and create something outstanding. We started work at 6pm Sunday night and opened a funky contemporary new café at 9am the next morning. It was the culmination of weeks of planning and the combined efforts of a fantastic team of people. It was such a thrill when the Museum staff turned up for breakfast on Monday morning and couldn't believe their eyes!"

"Since mobilisation it has been go – go – go. We had a sit down gala dinner reception for 400 guests during the first week of operation, then the Museum was a major focus for the White Night festival which attracted half a million people into the CBD to view amazing light installations. The Museum precinct had a carnival theme so we had fun with the food, setting up stalls on the main plaza selling spicy kranskys, smoky corn, home-made lemonade and the fairy floss. We also operated a bar in the main foyer – in association with the 'Wominjeka: Blak Nite' exhibition, offering a selection of local wines and themed finger food including popcorn with indigenous spices and Australian lamb sausage rolls with bush chutney.

"Next up is the Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Festival. We will be hosting a range of VIP dinners for blue chip corporate clients in tandem with the main event. We are also making plans for the Jurassic World exhibition which will give us the opportunity to create fun pop-up food outlets with prehistoric themed menus.

"The variety and scope of our hospitality offering at the Museum is amazing and we are receiving great feedback from our client and customers. It is really exciting to be here at the beginning and have the opportunity to build a great reputation for RA in partnership with such an iconic venue."

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