With 40 years’ experience in the industry, Tom can deliver unforgettable culinary experiences in any venue in the world, from outdoor picnics to three-star Michelin experiences, for two to ‘too many’. As well as being a disruptor to the catering industry, he also designs furniture, hosts luxury gastronomy and cultural tours to destinations including Russia, Spain and the Napa Valley, is a writer, sailor and a mentor to many.
Tom began his career in 1980 at Le
Gavroche in London – the flagship restaurant of French-British chef-restaurateurs Albert and Michel Roux, which was the first in the UK to gain three Michelin stars. He honed his craft as a restaurateur with six years of expert personal tutelage from Albert Roux himself.
After returning to Australia, Tom created the Truffle Group Catering Company in 1987, producing innovative special events including a decade of the legendary Cointreau Balls, the Sydney Children’s Hospital’s gold and silver charity dinners, and launches for Louis Vuitton, Chanel and Hermes. He presented Australian cuisine for heads of state at the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games and the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano and was the caterer at the Sydney 2000 sponsor hospitality centre, the Nike Athlete Centre and the Samsung Rendezvous Centre.
In 2000, Tom was approached to create a restaurant for the superyacht marina at Rozelle Bay. The resulting Liquidity Waterfront Restaurant & Bar was a finalist in the 2001 Restaurant of the Year awards. Between 1999 and 2002. Tom worked on the Sydney Football Stadium and Sydney Cricket Ground contracts and later secured the jewel in the city’s venue crown – the Sydney Opera House. After 17 years, Tom passed on the Truffle Group’s mantle, and one of his great joys was buying the Beach Road Restaurant in Palm Beach in 2003 and revitalising it with a new look and menu. It was named best new restaurant in the Restaurant & Catering Awards in its first year of operation and best restaurant with entertainment the following year.
Since 2008, Tom has been operating a boutique food and management agency, working with businesses, restaurants, clubs, hotels and event producers. His clients have included Foxtel, Panthers Group, Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority, the Langham, Sydney, Tourism Australia, to name just a few
The prominent Pratt family and its company Visy Industries have also been a loyal and regular client over many years. Tom has planned and helped execute some of its most prestigious events, including an evening with Nigella Lawson and an event at the Sydney Opera House with Dame Edna Everage.
Tom also works internationally and has recently produced four dinners for hundreds of guests at three Michelin-star standards for HSBC’s 150th anniversary in Hong Kong. He has also begun hosting luxury culinary and cultural tours, with trips to Russia, the Napa Valley, Austria and Spain in 2020, adding Argentina to the mix in 2021.
Tom curated a unique food and beverage experience for a 10 day trip to Russia for the Award-winning NAFDA incentive trip in 2019 for 150 guests and will be working with them again in the future in South America and Japan.
Toms most recent project is inventing a world first, the Halo Dining App. At the epicentre of Halo Dining is “dine at your favourite restaurant,…… at home”. The App is unique in that allows restaurants to easily connect with their customers in a very different way.
Halo Dining is sophisticated yet simple to use App which allows a diner, via a geotag of time, date, and location, to know which restaurants are available to come to their home and cook dinner. The host selects the menu, invites his/her guests, who in turn choose their menu. The check can also be shared across all diners if the host desires, just like the restaurant experience. The restaurant turns up an hour before, sets the table, serves drinks, and the menu selected. Washes up and goes home.
“Tom has been working with Visy and the Pratt family on private and corporate events, large and small, for 20 years. He understands our desired outcomes and makes things easy and cost effective, solves problems quickly, and delivers meaningful and memorable experiences for our clients and VIP guests. Whether it be a dinner with Nigella or a corporate suite at a Dame Edna Everage show, he consistently delivers for us. He knows how to speak the language of food and beverage when dealing with caterers, restaurants and other venues in a way that we don’t, which is invaluable in keeping expectations and the budget in mind.”
Lisa Sampson, Assistant to Anthony Pratt, Executive Chairman, Visy & Pratt Industries USA
“From the moment he stepped foot in Le Gavroche in 1980, Tom Rutherford was a fantastic chef. When he left in 1986, we were all immensely sorry to see him go but delighted by his new venture The Truffle Group Catering Company, through which he was responsible for some spectacularly successful catering events in Australia. His exemplary influence on the Australian food industry and the legacy which endures is without question. His contribution immense. I have no hesitation in recommending Tom for his superb dedication, conscientiousness, skill and creative flair. All these outstanding attributes have ensured Australia have in Tom someone who deserves recognition with a lifetime achievement award.”
Albert H Roux OBE, KFO, restaurateur and chef at Le Gavroche
“Tom Rutherford encompasses the heart and soul of Australia’s catering industry. When Tom created The Truffle Group in the late 1980s, he took once mundane catering to a new level and showed the industry what was possible with a little innovation, creativity and hard work. The events that Tom and his team have created over the years are second to none and for some of the biggest names in the business. I have known Tom for many years, during which time he has created events like no other, run companies seamlessly and exercised a true passion for the catering and hospitality industry. His contribution has been second to none. As a human being, Tom is not only generous in a charitable way but generous too with his time and sharing of knowledge. He is a natural educator and leader in his field.”
Neil Perry AM, Rockpool Dining Group director
“I have known Tom Rutherford for many years, I believe since the 1990s and have always been a fan of his innovation and fresh food. I consider him to be the pioneer of the catering industry, changing the way we eat at all manner of events. Tom raised the standard of food with extraordinary precision through The Truffle Group. His passion for excellent quality produce is inspiring and deserves recognition. Without his drive, our industry and food scene would look very different today.”
Tetsuya Wakadu, Tetsuya chef and restaurateur
“Tom Rutherford has taken catering, beverage and event food industry from party pies and sausage rolls to stylish, innovative, quality-driven delivery of produce and beverage into the most inhospitable event spaces on the planet. He is a man of intellect who understands the need for service and constant reinvention. Born and bred to be in the business of F&B, he has brought a sense of theatre to everything he has touched from his earliest beginnings. This is a man who constantly takes risks and has led the way for those that follow in how best to bring cachet to that part of our business that we are most judged by.”
Peter Rix, George P. Johnson director
The Langham, Sydney, the leading luxury five star hotel in Sydney had a restaurant and bar which where not operating at optimum financial capacity. As General Manager of the hotel I appointed Tom to project manage the overhaul ofthe 150 seat restaurant and the 60 seat bar. Tom deljvered market strategy, concept and branding and a detailed and impressive business plan. The financial templates and models behind Tom's creative plans were articulate, detailed yet simply for the daily operations to be successful. His attention to detail, creative thought, ability to work across all levels of the business, financial prowess and genuine passion were the core success factors to his F&B plan. Moving forward with 5 star hotel opdnings I would continue to use Tom as an experienced, creative and financially sawy consultant.
Sonia Lefevre, CEO, Lustro HotelGroup
“We have a had a taste of Tom, and we wanted more. In fact we already have engaged him for our next incentive trip and other events in the coming year to reinforce our commitment to members, suppliers and staff. Tom was a pivotal feature in our recent incentive trip to Budapest and Russia, his involvement tied together the entertainment program, 12 days of lunches and dinners expertly chosen, with an ever increasing culinary narrative showcasing the best regional cuisine and beverages available, most importantly within our budget for maximum effect, choices were culturally and dietary sensitive for all participants. If you haven't experienced Tom Rutherford’s style of hospitality, you should. It is refreshing, inclusive, detailed and without doubt, memorable. Tom has a way of making everyone feel comfortable, while serving up delicious dishes with surprise and intrigue. His ability to work with multiple venues, restaurants and hotels in several currencies is extraordinary. Tom plays host, MC and F&B guy to tie the entire program together, I consider him our secret weapon.”
Tony Green, GM Sales & Marketing