The managing director of Malaysia-based Par Synergy tells Michael Jones about the remarkable chance meeting that lead to him joining the profession
I specialise in high-volume production kitchens; central food production units; in-flight, institutional and healthcare kitchens and corporate dining. I have recently completed one of the largest hotel central production kitchens in Asia, with a capacity of 44 million meals per annum.
When I was a child in Malaysia I wanted to be a train driver when I grew up. I became a foodservice consultant by complete chance. In 1975 I completed my engineering studies in England. The UK was in deep economic recession. I joined the ranks of unemployed youth trying to find a job. Soon the money ran out and I took a job in Preston, UK, as a fuel station attendant.
One afternoon a shiny Jaguar XJ12 drove up. Out stepped a middle-aged man who threw the keys to me, exclaiming in a heavy French accent: “Fill her up, will you.” When he returned he found me admiring his car and a brief chat ensued. “What the hell are you doing here?” he said. “Come and see me in my office in London on Monday.” He gave me his card and drove away.
He was the director of Becuwe-Thomselle, one of the largest manufacturers of commercial kitchen equipment in Europe at the time. Two weeks later I was in France being inducted into the company as an apprentice engineer. After a couple of years I was appointed as sales engineer for English-speaking markets and later became the in-house kitchen planner for projects in South Asia.
The biggest challenge for FCSI is making governments, educational institutions and industry aware of its role as professional body – promoting professionalism in the field of foodservice consultancy. It has been great to belong to such an esteemed global organisation for over 25 years.
The challenge for foodservice consultants lies in competing with non-professional and under-qualified kitchen equipment suppliers and contractors.
In my career I have learnt that food and beverages are important social catalysts, binding mankind together.
My advice to younger consultants is although this profession requires dedication and continuous effort – the sense of satisfaction is profound.
I relax by listening to classical music, reading, enjoying good food and wines and long country walks