Locals by Locals with Michaela Johansson


Ever wondered how a catering company becomes the heartbeat of a community? We sat down with Michaela Johansson, the culinary genius behind Sydney’s go-to catering company, Aplenty, to spill the tea on their Redfern roots, hidden gems for top-notch produce, and the magic moments that happen when food becomes the ultimate connector. 


Can you share a bit about the inspiration behind starting Aplenty, and how the belief in food as a connector influenced the foundation of Sydney’s go-to catering company?


I have always been a feeder, loved having friends around and putting on impromptu casual feasts, so when I moved back from living overseas, I tried my luck in making it into a business and it seems that people really resonated with the unfussy, fun, communal way of eating i was doing. To be honest it wasn’t really planned – I was just more doing something I liked and in the way that i like to eat – I think it was a bit of a right place right time moment where people wanted to reconnect with friends, family and strangers after lockdowns – and where better but over the dinner table! 


Redfern is known for its diverse and vibrant community. Since relocating there back in 2022, how has the Redfern neighbourhood influenced the way Aplenty operates? 


It is! There is so much going on here, so many great businesses and a strong community. I have been really inspired by some of the community organisations like Weave who we have begun partnering with. We work with their Young Women and Gender Diverse group with cooking classes and support for their events and projects. Working with this community group has really helped to inspire and solidify our ethos, as a business that largely works in a space of luxury, choice and opulence. 


Any hidden gems or favourite spots in Redfern where you love to source fresh, quality produce for your services and/or yourself?


It’s not really ‘hidden’ per say but when I finish late I go to Maloney’s and get myself a sneaky Fabbrica pasta pack for dinner. 


Your go-to for a quick coffee and bite to eat between Aplenty menu prep?


There’s only one answer — Good Ways Deli. Scotty makes a mean coffee and has the best chat in Redfern. It sounds silly, but while we work making food for others, we sometimes don’t have time to feed ourselves so their sandwiches are a weekly staple. 


Any favourite spots or shops you’d recommend for sourcing nice plates/dining ware in the area?


Provider Store has great ceramics and little homewares that are so beautiful! I’m big on a  second hand store, and there are a couple dotted around Redfern and Surry Hills. 


Your belief that “food is the greatest connector” is evident in your approach. Can you share a memorable experience where you felt your catering not only filled stomachs but also created a lasting connection or moment at an event?


We try to add an element of surprise to our food at events and love that people engage with  that! But to be honest, I’ve felt this sense of connection most when we supported the Weave Youth team at their Mad Pride festival. They wanted to have a soft serve stand — so we had the team in our kitchen over a couple of sessions to curate a menu, figure out what they needed to order and make, come in and make all the sauces and toppings in our kitchen, then helped them to execute the event. To see them all enjoying their own creation and being so proud of what they’d created was so special — makes me a bit emoshe! 


“More collaborations with cool businesses and keeping up community work to keep our heads level in this lavish events space.”

As someone deeply involved in the local food scene, are there any Sydney/Redfern folks in particular inspiring you right now?


Ivey and Dan at Fontana! The yummiest food and wine. They are so genuine in their approach, I love that they don’t try to lean into cool trends to appease a certain Sydney-style expectation and do things their way. 


Kylie Kwong — she’s just such a legend. She’s an ambassador for Weave and is deeply connected with her community, does things her own way etc. There’s a bit of a theme going on  here… 


With a commitment to sourcing from Australian producers, can you highlight some of the rewards of working closely with local suppliers in Sydney? How does this commitment contribute to the uniqueness of Aplenty’s offerings?


Yes! There is so much you can get from working with small, local suppliers. Daniel, our veg supplier for example, goes above and beyond to help us find specialty produce. When you see fig leaves on our menu, that means Daniel has traipsed around the market and hassled some poor grower to pick some for us.  He also knows to look out for “weird things at the markets” for the Aplenty girls so we get some really beautiful and rare produce that we can put on grazing tables — something unique to us.


What goals do you have for the future?


So many! Too many. In 2024 I’ll be looking for a new space, we love our shop here but need something bigger. Which is a very exciting problem to have. I’m also working on the event production and styling side of the business which is fun. More collaborations with cool businesses and keeping up community work to keep our heads level in this lavish events space. 




Your go-to….


Park to unwind and relax? Bronte beach — the grassy patch. It’s not in the area, but close to my house and very nice on a day off. 


Takeaway spot? Lal Quila — Chicken Karahi and Cheese and garlic naan for the win. 


Local grocery store? The Aplenty cool room 🙂 I’m lazy (too busy!) and lean a little too heavily on Uber grocery delivery hehe. 


Room in The Old Clare Hotel? The Abercrombie room! Get me in that tub! 




Prep playlist? Bend it Like Beckham soundtrack is a banger. 


POV: you’re at The Old Clare Hotel on a self-care staycation in the Mary O’ Suite — what’s your:


Room service order —  I’d go savoury then sweet:


Fried eggs on toast, with some bacon. Then the Waffles for dessert. 

Always double beverages too — OJ and a coffee. 


Self-care routine  — A sheet mask before bed, an episode of something trashy like the Bachelor or Love Island and then a big sleep the next day with the above room service order. 


Favourite book —  I’m a bad reader… and this is a very basic, single 31 yr old white-woman response, but I love anything by Dolly Alderton


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