Oh, Vienna! The FCSI EAME 2017 Conference review

FCSI EAME’s 2017 conference in Vienna, Austria was as fun and varied as it was enlightening and educational, reports Michael Jones

The 230 consultants, manufacturers and operators who attended the FCSI EAME 2017 annual conference were able to take part in a comprehensive, and frequently interactive, educational programme as well as some entertaining networking sessions throughout.

Held at Vienna’s landmark Meliá hotel on 6-8 April 2, the conference was themed ‘Food and Hospitality in the future’ and the programme featured 17 speakers, from across Europe, China and the US, addressing core, technical topics for FCSI members, such as BIM and hospitality hygiene, as well as big picture strategy issues such as China’s current and future food trends and ‘Food in 2030’.

A comprehensive programme

“I am delighted to report the 2017 conference was a great success,” said Martin Rahmann FCSI, chair of FCSI EAME. “The educational programme was comprehensive and with a mixture of roundtable discussions, interactive workshops and speeches delivering real value to attendees.”

At the end of the event, Rahmann reserved “special thanks” for conference chair Serdar Sağlamtunç FCSI “for putting together a fantastic programme this week. I had so many positive comments about how good the show was,” he said. He also praised conference host Josef Merringer FCSI for doing “a wonderful job” as well as Sabine Wagner, who will leave her role as executive director for FCSI EAME later this month, for “her big contribution, not just for today but across many years of service. It a big heartache for me that tonight is the last day we will work together,” he said.

Achieving excellence

On Saturday 8 April at the Vienna Celebration Dinner, awards were bestowed to those in the industry who had, according to Rahmann, “achieved excellence” within the last year. The Hobart Flight Type dishwasher was the winner of the Manufacturer of the Year award, while the Excellence in Foodservice Design award was presented by brand new chair of FCSI EAME Remko van Der Graaff to Gerben van der Molen FCSI for his work on the Post-plaza project in Leeuwarden, The Netherlands. “I just have a small team in Rotterdam. To win this is such an honour. I am a little bit speechless,” said van der Molen.

Bjorn Grimm FCSI, owner of Grimm Consulting, won the Excellence in Management Advisory award for his mystery cooking consultancy concept. “After we founded mystery cooking I suffered an illness last year and the team really delivered. I’m very proud for them,” said Grimm.
The FCSI Council of Fellows, which was established in 1981 to recognise significant contributions to the industry and FCSI, honours inductees deserving of great recognition for their service. This year, Jean Pierre Grossi FFCSI, a member since 1993 and an EAME board member from 1993 was honoured at the dinner, with the creation of FCSI France in 1999 and FCSI Italy in 2000 cited by Rahmann as particular highlights of his longstanding contribution to FCSI.
Josef Merringer FFCSI was also inducted to the Council, with Rahmnan describing him as “a titan of the foodservice industry”. Ken Winch FFCSI took to the stage and spoke of his respect for both men. “I’m so proud and honoured to be serving with them today with this great honour,” he said.
From Left: Remko van Der Graaff FCSI, William Taunton FCSI, Jean Pierre Grossi FFCSI, Josef Merringer FFCSI, Ken Winch FFCSI, Martin Rahmann FCSI
New beginnings 
In accepting the role of FCSI EAME chair, van Der Graaff praised the contribution of his predecessor. “Martin you have been working very, very hard,” he said. calling for applause for  “the excellent job he has done”. He also thanked the new executive director of FCSI EAME, Elonique Dalhuisen, who has supported FCSI The Netherlands for many years. “I praise your excellence. She will do a great job,” he told attendees.
Van Der Graaff himself has spent six years on the FCSI EAME board and 24 years in the business. “I wanted to join the best consultancy organisation. That’s why I joined FCSI. That’s why I’m here today,” he said, encouraging members to sign up for the next FCSI EAME conference in Rotterdam in Spring 2018. Watch this space, or contact elonique@fcsi.eu for more details.
Michael Jones