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Pro Gala and Pro Awards give recognition to the best of the hotel, restaurant and catering industries. Awards are given in 14 categories.

The event highlights knowhow and expertise and aims to bring more appreciation to the industries. This year Pro Gala was organised in the historic Wanha Satama in Helsinki, the 26th of January 2017. In addition to the finalists, the event gathered a host of other professionals to enjoy the unique atmosphere and to cheer for their favourites. It is the right attitude that separates true experts from the rest and this was one of the key elements considered also when picking the winners.

The event is each time built around a theme and this year it was Circus. A successful event is organised each time with seamless cooperation between Messukeskus Helsinki and Wanha Satama, producer and the customer.




The goals were to get a full house, create a unique experience with an element of surprise, and to focus on tasty food and the right temperature of the beverages. Also staying on time was of the essence as the programme consists of several awards. However, the main goal is to highlight the expertise of the winners and to reward them for their achievements. This kind of acknowledgement is very personal and highly valued as it is the colleagues, peers, customers and supervisors that submit their favourites to the contest.

The most important aspect is that our guests leave with a smile on their faces and are eager to tell everybody what a great time they had!”

– Nina Harlin, Business Director of the Aromi magazine.


Preparations start well in advance and the premises have already been pre-booked over a year before the event. The catering services give an offer at a very early stage and the menu is tested before summer holidays. All contracts are renewed immediately after the gala. Planning carefully and in time is crucial when organising successful events.

Unbeatable team:

Pro Gala’s producer is responsible for booking the performers, the script and acts as a stage manager. Also the event’s coordinator has a significant role acting as the contact person for the finalists, reserving tickets, making the seating order, reporting special diets, booking hotel accommodation etc. The editorial staff of the Aromi magazine is not directly involved in organising the event but have a key role in reporting the gala both in print and on social media. Catering services have two representatives on the team: one responsible for the front of the house and one for the kitchen. One technician is also on the team to make sure everything runs smoothly. All in all the team includes 7 people.



Food and beverages

As the PRO Gala is an event for the hotel, restaurant and catering professionals, good food with an element of surprise as well as matching drinks are a must. The main ingredient is meat or fish every other year, this year it was fish. The Head Chef Peter Ahti from Royal Restaurants was responsible for the menu:

Beaumont des Crayères Grande Reserve

Tartar Picanha
Serego Alighieri Possessioni Rosso Karhu dark lager

Crème Ninon
Masi Moxxe Spumante Brut Kronenbourg Blanc

Main course: Pike loaf
Joseph Cattin Pinot Blanc 2015 Brooklyn Brewery Sorachi Ace
Napue GT

Birthday cake
Presidentti Orgin Blend Papua New Guinea

Premises and details

The historic Wanha Satama met the needs of the gala well. Location, easy access, functionality and possibility for growth where the key issues considered when choosing a venue.

We asked Nina Harlin how important easily adjusted premises are:

“It is very important that the premises can be adjusted and something new and surprising can be created. All of our guests who hadn’t seen the gala with three different rooms in use doubted how well this would work but they were proven wrong. Everything was close, the round tables made it easy to interact with others and everything just worked extremely well. The premises of Wanha Satama can easily be transformed and all in all suited the purpose well.”

The gala included several details to impress the guests. For example, as the main course was served, a real pike was displayed on stage in order to demonstrate where the main course originates from.



Theme and programme


This year’s theme was Circus and the theme was implemented with a modern twist. The theme fitted the event well as the gala is filled with flamboyant dresses, spectacular table settings and lively programme. In well planned events the theme is visible throughout the evening, from programme to premises and catering. This was truly the case with Pro Gala 2017. The hosts were dressed as circus directors and cabaret artists were invited all the way from London. These artists together with actors and dancers from the Riihimäki youth theatre completely charmed the guests with their talented performances. A central part of the event was naturally the award ceremonies that rewarded the most talented experts of the hotel, restaurant and catering industries in 14 categories.

Getting rewarded for one’s work is an honour, especially when the nomination comes from your own colleagues, peers, supervisors and business partners.

Tips from the organiser


Nina Harlin’s tips for organising a successful event:

What is the key in organising a successful gala?

Good team and ambition to do everything better each year.

What creates the best customer experience?

Sticking to the timetable, attention to detail and surprising your guests with something unexpected.



We look forward to Pro Gala 2018!


Pro Gala in a nutshell


Wanha Satama halls
A, B, C, E



Additional services

Gala tables and chairs, electrical installations, services of the Event Planner and Technical Advicer