When the pandemic hit London, Michaela Johansson jumped on her bike and began delivering picnic boxes to Hackney locals. She headed back home to Sydney in 2021 and launched the picnic boxes, which turned into what is now known as Aplenty, an events and catering concept.

“I always wanted to run my own business and it felt like the right time,” says Johansson. “What started in my mum’s kitchen in Marrickville making picnic boxes for friends is now a much larger operation.”

Aplenty still offer the foundational picnic boxes, but the experience is now available
on a larger scale, with the Aplenty team catering different events from small gatherings and corporate functions to large-scale weddings. The Aplenty experience is rooted
in food and extends to event production and styling — it’s immersive, to say the least.

Since launching the business, Aplenty has worked weddings at private properties as well as small-scale events at Sydney’s Paramount Recreation Club and Golden Age Cinema. The Aplenty offering features a range of set packages that include a combination of seasonal canapés, share plates, grazing and dessert tables, oyster bars, and live cooking stations.

Johansson says she usually sticks to the set packages, but can make suggestions for clients who are indecisive or want to create a custom menu. Aplenty also works with public relations teams to curate branded offerings for clients and hosts quarterly
tasting nights for clients to try bits and pieces.

When it comes to the style of food Aplenty creates, Johansson aims to offer
something different and modern from traditional catering options. “I wanted to
offer unique and contemporary experiences where food was a big part of the event, not just a requirement,” she explains. “[It’s] good food for good times with a focus on seasonality, punchy flavours, and surprising combinations.”

Johansson describes Aplenty’s cuisine as share-style Mediterranean that’s fuss-free and delicious. She also works with local producers including Emilio’s Butchery in Rozelle, Vannella Cheese in Marrickville, and Holy Goat in Victoria.

Some of the dishes across the Aplenty offering include gildas, snapper crudo, and
grilled octopus with ’ndjua oil. Larger plates cover pork sausage ragu, grilled polenta
with asiago, and cod kofta flatbread, with desserts spanning from dark chocolate
and rum brownies to ricotta cannoli, and lemon and olive oil polenta cake.

“Our go-to for a wedding is grilled seafood canapés, seated share plates, and roving desserts,” says Johansson. “[We also] like bringing our charcoal grill to events and doing some live grilling to create a bit of atmosphere.”

The Aplenty offering is always growing and changing in line with Johansson’s love
for culinary creativity. “I also wanted to create a workplace where my team of chefs
and I can fulfill weird ideas or experiment to offer our customers something unique,” she says.

But just when you thought that was enough to keep Johansson and her small team busy — think again. Earlier this year, Aplenty opened its own kitchen and events space in Redfern where dining experiences are held. Hosting events in a dedicated space has allowed the Aplenty team to be more experimental and creative in their culinary approach.

“We have a bit more freedom to make what we want … maybe more spontaneous,
experimental, or out of the ordinary of what we typically serve,” says Johansson. “It gives us a chance to play around with an idea and unleash it!”

Each dining session has a different theme and a share-style menu that is only revealed on the day of the event. “It’s all about the experience, so every single detail is thought of from the styling to the menu, the way something is served, and the music playing,” says Johansson. “It feels so intimate and more special because of that.” It’s a communal-style set up, too, where guests come in groups, couples, or solo to
mingle with others at the table.

Johansson has experienced the highs and lows that come with working in events and catering since launching Aplenty. Her advice to those looking to dabble in the space?
“Make sure you are as good at logistics as you are cooking — one does not work without the other,” she says. In the kitchen, the team has a joke motto: ‘perfect preparation prevents poor performance’. “It’s very American-military energy, but
the biggest part of the job is preparation and planning.”

She also urges potential catering and events gurus to focus on the details and
find out as much as possible from customers and venues to avoid any problems on the day. Confidence, consistency, and sticking to your product offering is also essential. “You never know who is eating your food and where that will lead you,” says Johansson. “We have had some amazing opportunities come out of our events and catering orders. I still have customers coming back from when I first started making picnic boxes.”

The rest of 2023 is set to be a busy one for Aplenty. Heading into the warmer months, most weekends are already filled with weddings. Alongside a busy schedule, Johansson is also growing the team and has hinted at a collaborative event in summer with a local Sydney artist — stay tuned.