A HISTORY OF OUR SOCIETY – Excerpts from “Foodservice Consultants Society International: 50 Years of Service 1955 – 2005”


Foodservice Consultants Society International is the respected and truly professional organization of men and women offering design and management consulting services, specialized in the foodservice and hospitality industry, across the world.

The Foodservice Consultants Society International (FCSI) traces its founding to the mid 1950’s. The profession and its organization grew out of the widespread cultural and social changes that swept over North America following the Second World War. As the association grew, its influence broadened and gained enthusiastic members in Europe, then Asia and across the globe.

The postwar revolution in foodservice started, matured and grew and eventually adopted an international view. It has been transformed into a profession that benefits from a global outreach and sharing of ideas, techniques and approaches. Today, the international spirit of FCSI provides intellectual stimulus for ideas which benefit members, their clients and the general public irrespective of the oceans dividing them.

Flexibility, professionalism, education, and adaptability are all the hallmarks of a flourishing and healthy association. FCSI has attained that maturity and today stands as a benchmark for others to measure in an international marketplace. To accomplish this in five decades is not only unusual; it is a tribute to the people who founded the Society as well as those who work so very hard for its current well-being.


1950: Fred Schmid started his own foodservice design consulting company, Fred Schmid Associates. Quickly, Fred realized it was a good idea to gather with the other pioneers working in the fledgling field. He wrote to seven colleagues, inviting them to join him for lunch at the 1952 National Restaurant Association Convention held in Chicago. Fred’s vision for a Society percolated for a few more years. Relentless in his enthusiasm, Fred again called his colleagues together. Twelve consultants met with Fred at the May 11, 1955 meeting that had the following three tenets listed as common convictions:

  • Those present saw the practice of foodservce equipment companies providing free planning services for prospective clients as a fallacy.
  • There was a clear need all over America for a more professional approach to the planning, design, and engineering of all types of public feeding facilities.
  • That what few professional consultants there were at the time should band together to form some sort of society for the interchange of ideas that would be of benefit to the entire industry.

Thirteen consultants voted to form their own association to be called the Food Facilities Engineering Society (FFES). The members drafted and approved a statement of organizational purpose: To promote research and improve design of public food facilities.

The newly Chartered Members drafted a list of “Eligibility Requirements” for FFES membership. These included:

  • Atleast ten years experience in some phase of the foodservice equipment planning, design, etc.
  • A minimum of one year as an established consultant in one’s own business as a professional designer or consultant.
  • No direct or indirect association with the foodservice equipment company or fabricator

Plans were made for a constitution and bylaws-writing committee and Fred was authorized to retain an attorney to form the non-profit corporation. At the start, FFES was headquartered in Fred Schmid’s office in Los Angeles and the organization was incorporated in June 1955. The bylaws were completed and approved by the Charter Members in October 1955, and specified the following FFES member classes:

  •  Independant Consultant
  • Consultant’s Technical or Professional Associates
  • “Captive” Consultant Employed by a Food Operator or Chain, or a Government Agency
  • Specialist Employed by an Architect or Engineer
  • Educator
  • Honorary Member

The first annual meeting of FFES was held in conjunction with the National Restaurant Association Convention in Chicago in May 1956. Fred Schmid invited representatives from related professional organizations, trade publication editors, and other industry representatives to attend some of the sessions and address the members.

The continuing ideological struggle over independent consultants vs. those employed by equipment manufacturers resulted in several of the latter being excluded from the FFES membership. Several decided to form their own professional organization. On May 4, 1958 they formed the International Society of Food Service Consultants (ISFSC). In its early years and through the 1960s, ISFSC was the larger and healthier of the two competing organizations and grew at a slightly faster rate than FFES.

From the start, ISFSC was more innovative than FFES. ISFSC was also the first to look beyond the North American continent. ISFSC’s second president, Richard Flambert, stressed the importance of the annual programs and seminars and soon ISFSC became well-known for the outstanding, informative, and beneficial programs put on for its members. ISFSC also began what would become FCSI’s prestigious professional publication, The Consultant, in 1968.

1962: In order to better serve the FFES’s geographically diverse members, some of whom were Canadians, the Society made two moves which were expanded greatly in future years. First, the Canadian members were to become the first regional chapter of the organization and began calling themselves members of the “Canadian Chapter of the FFES”. Second, a regional meeting separate from the annual gathering at the National Restaurant Association Convention took place in New York City.

1964: There was a growing professional divide between those who were independent consultants and those who provided facilities consulting and design services, but were employed by equipment dealers. Each group knew they shared much in common with the others; however, FFES explicitly refused membership to those associated with the sale of equipment. In order to allow for information sharing and collegiality, in 1965 both groups met jointly for a liaison session at the May National restaurant Association Convention held at Chicago’s sprawling McCormick Place Convention Center.

1968: With the membership now totaling more than 100, the organizations name was changed from the Food Facilities Engineering Society (FFES) to the Food Facilities Consultants Society (FFCS).

1976: Members saw that joining forces with ISFSC would work to the benefit of everyone working in the foodservice consulting profession. FFCS President James Little rallied the board to support what would result in a two-year Unification Study Committee with representatives of FFCS and ISFCSC, Chaired by William Eaton. The major contention was dealing with those who derived income from the sale of equipment. The solution was to “grandfather” in all ISFSC members at the time of a possible merger. They then established an exclusion which still exists today. Anyone who manufactures, markets, sells, or distributes foodservice equipment would be excluded going forward.

1979: After twenty years of independent existence, the memberships of both the FFCS and ISFSC were slated to vote for or against the proposed merger of the two organizations. The historic vote taken on Saturday May 20, 1978, resulted in strong support for the merger of the two competing organizations. Over the course of the next year, teams of committee members worked over the minutiae of logistics in making one entity out of two. The new name for the unified organization was the Foodservice Consultants Society International (FCSI) when the actual functional merger took place on May 1, 1979. Bill Eaton was elected FCSI’s first President.

Today’s growing internationalization of the foodservice consulting industry can trace its roots to the initial efforts by the pioneers in Europe during the 1970’s who were willing to work together to convince the North Americans of the truly global nature of the work. They also toiled relentlessly to show the Americans that there was much more to learn in the global economy.

1981: FCSI started a noble tradition by inaugurating the “FCSI Council of Fellows”. Begun as a means to honor and recognize specific Society members for their long years of service to the hospitality industry and the foodservice consulting profession, the first ever inductees were Fred Schmid and Richard Flambert.

1986: FCSI boasted six hundred members, thirty-two of whom were in Europe. That year, FCSI planned to hold its first Fall Seminar outside of the United States. The mid 1980’s saw a shift in the venue for the annual meeting, from Chicago to be held in conjunction with the NAFEM Show on alternate years in the fall. By late 1987, the European, Canadian, Mexican and New England chapters were joined by a Southern California chapter. During the late 80’s Thomas Costello worked hard to convince the Board and general membership to become more welcoming to management consultants within the foodservice industry. That outreach became Management Advisory Services and Costello edited a regular publication titled “Critical MAS”, which helped to explain to the design consultant the work and importance of the management consultants. At the Phoenix Conference, a few seminars were produced for and by MAS consultants and ever since, there has been an educational track in each conference pertaining to this area of foodservice specialization.

1989: Then European Chair, Nicolas Elshof, developed a plan he called “FCSI Keep on Rolling”. Essentially a vision for the future, Elshof’s plan presented a cosmopolitan perspective of FCSI. The European Chapter adopted the plan and presented the proposal to the FCSI Board of Directors at the Fall Seminar as a basis for international restructuring. President John Birchfield Sr. listened to the European delegates and asked the full Board of Trustees to present the plan immediately to the Board of Directors.

1992: Elshof and Bob Pacifico shared a taxi to the Zurich airport, and on the way, Elshof contends that Pacifico inquired as to why it was so important for FCSI Europe to have the “Keep on Rolling” plan adopted by FCSI Worldwide. Elshof explained that it was critical that operating divisions should be created within FCSI so that all local members could have a feeling of equality and rights within FCSI. This led to the establishment of FCSI Europe as the first division of the Society.

Mid 90’s: Increased international outreach in the 90’s resulted in the formation of an Asia Pacific Chapter of FCSI with Manila’s Imelda Silayan taking up the challenge as the group’s first Chair, together with Nani Labrador and Vivien Choi-Cheung. Their first event was held at the Shangri-La Hotel on Edsa, Mandaluyong in Manila on August 5, 1995.

1995: Saw FCSI’s first female president, Kathleen Seelye while membership was approaching the 1000 mark. The Board developed an approach more focused on international roles through separate divisions in Europe and Asia so that the Society was not going to be viewed as purely a U.S.-based association. The Society also launched its first web site, and undertook a major member needs assessment that would guide future boards for years to come.

1998: FCSI showed the world of professional associations just how “international” the Society was, when Hugh Cade became the first non-North American president.

2000: the Worldwide Board of Directors held their first meeting outside North America – in Amsterdam during Michael Pantano’s presidency. At that time a major discussion point was the creation of a North American Division. Part of the plan related to creating a North American Division was a restructuring of the world wide board. The Board was reduced from eleven to seven members and an inaugural eight member NAD Board of Trustees was elected in 2001.

2001: A general review of the FCSI bylaws had been conducted by another task force. After many years of changes and amendments, the bylaws had become a patchwork. The Bylaws Task Force analyzed the entire set of governing documents and submitted a newly written set of bylaws which included the downsized board and formally recognized the North American division. The bylaws were accepted by the general membership, which, as part of the board restructuring, extended the term of Executive Committee members to two years in each position. As a result then President Scott Legge was the first to serve as President of FCSI for two years.

2002: saw the Society take its worldwide annual conference across the Atlantic to Barcelona, Spain, reinforcing the global nature of the organization. The Barcelona Conference also featured an FCSI Leadership Summit whereby all division and local unit leaders who were able to attend participated in exercises designed to help them learn more about their counterparts in other regions of FCSI’s world.

2005: As FCSI approached its fiftieth anniversary celebration, one of the organization’s greatest accomplishments has been the establishment of friendships, understanding, and a sense of common endeavor.

Since the publishing of the above mentioned book FCSI has continued to progress and advance the cause of the Society.

2006: FCSI held its worldwide conference in Edinburgh Scotland, with opening ceremonies held at Edinburge Castle.  Long time Executive Director David Drain left FCSI in early 2006 to pursue other career options and was replaced by former member and past president Scott Legge, with support services still provided by FSA Group.

2008: FCSI held its first ever worldwide conference within the boundaries of Asia Pacific. The China World Hotel played host to this important event and the opening party was held on the Great Wall of China on a clear night with a full moon – a most memorable event indeed.  FCSI – The Americas became a separately; incorporated division of the Society, incorporated in the District of Columbia.

2009: FCSI – The Americas changed management companies as a truly independent division.  FCSI Worldwide headquarters formally moved to Rockwood, Ontario Canada as Legge Executive Group added staff members to provide full association management services to FCSI worldwide operations.

2010: Updates to the Continuing Professional Growth program result in a change from a 3-year CEU cycle to a 1-year term and now all Senior Associate and Associate members must participate in this important program.  FCSI – The Americas changed management companies, appointing Wade Koehler, long time staff member for FCSI as the division’s Executive Director.  Division operations moved to Bloomington IL and Jeff McSweeney was hired as Director of Education for the Division.  FCSI WW and TAD combined for a conference in Minneapolis MN.  FCSI prepares to launch a new association management system and web site to better serve the needs of the membership and improve the brand image of the society on the world wide web.