FCSI EAME 2017 Conference: A Viennese whirl

The FCSI EAME 2017 Conference in Vienna, Austria, promises to be the Society’s most varied and enlightening yet, reports Elly Earls

The 200 or so attendees at the FCSI EAME 2017 Conference, held at Vienna’s landmark Meliá hotel on 6-8 April, can expect the Society’s most enlightening line-up yet. The conference programme will feature keynote speeches delivered by experts from all over the world, workshops on topics ranging from topics as varied as hygiene and technology, and numerous networking and sightseeing opportunities. A limited number of spaces are still available for FCSI EAME members – please see the bottom of the article for more information.

Kicking off the conference

Following a welcome reception at the Meliá Vienna’s stunning 57th floor restaurant and lounge on Thursday 6 April, the event, which is themed ‘Food and Hospitality in the future’, kicks off on Friday 7 April with a keynote speech from Oliver Leisse, futurist and founder of the Hamburg-based trend research institute SEE MORE.

The morning continues with three more talks. Following Leisse is management consultant Dr Ilse Andrea Ennsfellner, who will speak on ‘Excellence in management consultancy’, with particular focus on trends and quality standards.

Topics she plans to cover include: the shift within management consultancy from ‘advising’ to ‘doing’; the importance for consultants of finding their niche and identifying and promoting the values embedded in their organisation; the impact of globalisation on the sector; and how quality standards, such as ISO 20700, can support the business relationship between clients and consultants.

“The new standard ISO 20700, ‘Guidelines for management consultancy services’, is a tool to improve the relationship between consultants and clients,” she explains. “Right now it is generic and describes the consulting process from the offering phase to evaluation. What we need to do now is bring all stakeholders together to discuss what’s next and how it can be developed. This conference is a great opportunity to do that.”

Taking information home 

Lebanese food heritage expert Zeinab Jeambey will take to the stage next, followed by the last talk of the morning, delivered by founder of Solutions for Chefs Robert Bodenstein, who will outline his unique consultancy product. After lunch, the final speech of the day will come from Christine Ehrenhuber, the project manager for United Against Waste, an ambitious foodservice industry initiative to reduce avoidable food waste in kitchens in Austria by half by 2020.

“I’m really interested in finding out about developments in managing food waste in other countries,” says fellow keynote speaker Dutch F&B consultant Andreas Oerlemans, whose talk ‘Food in 2030’ will open day two of the conference. “There may be developments that we can take home and also implement in the Netherlands.”

Fabulous workshops 

Then it’s time for the conference’s four workshops. First, attendees have a choice between a hospitality training workshop about how to be a better host to guests and a workshop delivered by the European Hygienic Engineering and Design Group (EHEDG), which will provide best practice guidance regarding the hygienic engineering and design of kitchens’ infrastructure and the benefits this can deliver in term of both ease of cleaning and operational cost savings.

For Mike Köppe, key account manager for commercial kitchens at drainage specialist ACO, a four globe sponsor of the conference, the EHEDG workshop will be an event highlight. “This is a new topic for most FCSI members,” he says. “It will be important to see what they take away from this workshop, which will cover practical solutions and talk about how hygienic design affects and benefits the work of FCSI consultants.”

Leading the industry 

Next are two workshops focused on Building Information Modelling (BIM), one for design consultants and one for management consultants. “We’ve organised these interactive workshops because up until now there has been some confusion surrounding BIM among consultants,” notes conference chair Serdar Saglamtunç FCSI. “Our goal is to do a sample project with the audience so they can understand what BIM is and how they can use it. At FCSI we try to move ahead and lead the industry so we want our members to get ready for this useful tool.”

Day one then wraps up with a short exchange between members about their experiences of the workshops, followed by a traditional Austrian dinner at 200-year-old, family-run winery and restaurant, Schreiberhaus.

Time for questions 

The quality speaker line-up continues during the morning of Saturday 8 April, with Oerlemans taking the lead, followed by technology expert Sébastien Just, who will speak about why POS software as we know it is dead and where future technology opportunities lie.

Then it’s time for something that has never happened before at an FCSI EAME conference, a moderated discussion covering foodservice and customer support. “For the first time ever, we will have a sort of debate that will be open to professional and allied FCSI members,” Saglamtunç explains. “We want them to express their feelings, tell us about their challenges and ask questions.”

Different regions 

Two more firsts follow in the form of two speakers from outside the EAME region. After Jeff Pi, a management expert with extensive multinational experience in setting up and running effective business operations, talks about China’s current and future food trends with the aim of answering the question ‘What are 1.3 billion people eating?’, American Aaron J Barker, an FCSI senior associate, will step up to give an overview of interfacing technology in foodservice and how this impacts brand culture, investment and user experience.

“Usually, we only have speakers from the EAME region, but we wanted to change this to encourage more members to attend,” Saglamtunç notes. “Attendees will have the chance to hear different opinions from different regions for the first time.”

Building bridges 

Throughout the conference, all talks will be translated into three languages (English, German and French ) and during breaks members will have access to an exhibition area where four and five globe sponsors, including refrigeration and steel technology provider Ideal AKE, warewashing manufacturer Meiko and drainage specialist ACO, will be displaying their wares.

“We have prepared an impressive schedule to share inspiring knowledge with our members, as well as offering them the chance to explore the charming city of Vienna,” says FCSI EAME executive director Sabine Wagner. “On top of this, our professional design, management consultants and corporate members will receive a great opportunity to communicate, network and discuss many new items for a stronger brand FCSI. And don’t forget – Vienna is the bridge to the markets in Eastern Europe.”

Networking opportunities

Throughout the conference, there will be numerous opportunities for both networking and sightseeing, including an afternoon sightseeing tour on day two, taking in the most famous Vienna sites, followed by a celebration dinner during which three awards will be presented: the Manufacturer Award for Distinguished Development Design, the Design Award for Excellence in Foodservice Design and the MAS Award for Excellence in Management Advisory Services.

For many attendees, speakers and sponsors, it’s the networking portion of the event they’re most excited about. “I’m sure that there will be a lot of interesting discussions about the changes in the foodservice industry since the last conference two years ago,” Köppe notes. “It will be highly interesting to talk to consultants from many different countries and backgrounds and find out what the real big trends are and how they affect the set-up and layout of kitchens.”

Ennsfellner, too, is looking forward to networking with a range of FCSI members. “FCSI is a big stakeholder of the consulting profession and I’m very eager to share experiences and opinions,” she remarks. “We all learn from each other – that’s why we attend these conferences.”

“Together, all of the conference participants have hundreds of years of experience in businesses around the world,” agrees Josef Meringer FCSI, member of the Conference Committee and moderator. “Vienna, a city that is a melting pot of nations, is the perfect place to have a close look at the past, get the right feeling for the present and catch ideas for the future. The details make the difference and the atmosphere will enlighten members and guests, as well as refreshing relationships and helping them build new contacts with business partners.”

Spouses and partners will also be kept entertained on the first day with an Imperial shopping tour, complete with cake decorating workshop, and sightseeing packages can be arranged for members who opt to extend their trip in Vienna beyond the two-day event.


Further information:

A limited number of spaces are still available for the Conference. Registration deadline for is 30 March 2017. Email sabine@fcsi.eu or go to  for more details.

Elly Earls

More Relevant

View More