Gerhard Franzen, founder and honorary president of FCSI Deutschland-Österreich e. V., passed away at the age of 79 on 28 January 2022 after a short, serious illness. With his passing, the industry loses an expert and advisor who provided great services to the hospitality industry in Germany in a wide variety of roles.
A look at Franzen’s curriculum vitae confirms his energy for developing concepts and launching projects that signalled the way ahead. Franzen was chairman of DEHOGA Saarland from 1982-1996, setting many trends during this time and gaining nationwide recognition.
Franzen devoted himself to professional training and examinations with great vigor in order to improve the quality of educational opportunities. At the time, he succeeded in ensuring that chefs in their third year of training in the Saarland received inter-company instruction in order to improve their skills. Promoting good young talent that would have a major impact on the industry was always a concern for the Belgian-born Franzen.
During his presidency, the Hotel Management School of Saarland was established in Saarbrücken. He put all his energy into the introduction of the Saarländischer Wirtebrief, which he later successfully continued in the German state of Brandenburg with the Brandenburgische Wirte- und Hotelierbrief (co-sponsored by the Hotel- und Gaststättenverband Brandenburg e.V. and joined by the IHK Potsdam in 1996).
Another export success was the “Host fire brigade”. This association of innkeepers/hosts from the Saarland stands ready to provide professional support to the organizers of large events. As the son of a lawyer, Franzen most likely inherited his negotiating skills from home.
It all started at the Scout Camp
As it is often the case, Franzen’s father had different intentions for the future of his son. At a Scout Camp, where his parents were responsible for the kitchen, the 11-year-old Franzen was excited to become a chef. He prevailed with his career aspirations and subsequently completed an apprenticeship as a qualified hotel manager with master craftsman’s certificates in cooking and service.
His military service took Franzen to Germany, as kitchen manager of the NATO officers’ mess in Cologne. In 1983, he changed ‘fronts’ and became a management consultant for tourism, the hotel industry, gastronomy and the baking and confectionery trade. His commitment to the industry also became clearer during the reunification of Germany. After a few years commuting between Saarland and Potsdam, Franzen decided to move to Brandenburg, not only because of his love, although locations and countries were never decisive for him, as a deeply convinced European.
His international mindset fired his commitment to FCSI. He recognized at an early stage, that the future of consultants and kitchen planners for the hospitality industry depended on thinking outside the box and beyond national borders. Therefore, it was a trendsetting step for him to lead the former association B.I.G./Consultants in the Hospitality Industry onto the international stage. FCSI was the right platform for his vision. The worldwide association of catering planners and consultants is the only institution with more than 1,400 members in over 40 countries that has earned a high reputation in the industry with high standards and its own code of honor.
After the founding of FCSI Deutschland-Österreich e.V. (FCSI Germany/Austria country chapter), his advice soon became internationally demanded. As European treasurer of the FCSI, he knew how to assert himself and always kept his eye on the budget. With great enthusiasm he organized three European conferences in Vienna, Berlin and Prague. His appearance as Father Christmas with a saxophone at the Vienna Congress in 2003, for which he had taken lessons on this instrument, remains legendary.
As a big “Thank you” for his commitment, Franzen was awarded the greatest honor that the FCSI has to bestow. He was appointed to the Council of Fellows, which also includes his old companions such as worldwide presidents Scott D. Legge FFCSI (2000 – 2002) and Albert Da Costa FFCSI (2002 – 2004), with whom he remained close until his death.
Franzen will be remembered by many members and supporters of the FCSI for his appearance at the 20th anniversary of the FCSI Germany/Austria country chapter in Meran in November 2019, where he said goodbye to his long-time companion and press spokesperson, Hildegard Dorn-Petersen FCSI, among others.
A strong personality
Gerhard Franzen was a man of honor. Whoever he gave his word to, they could rely on it. Nevertheless, he never shied away from open discourse among colleagues and customers, and sometimes even fought it out with relish. Friendship had a high value for him, and whom he offered it to this person could consider itself as lucky. He also was a connoisseur who appreciated good food and culinary delights as essential elements of the culture of life. The appropriate glass of wine was found, among others, from the barrels of his Chinon wine fraternity. His friends honor him as a strong character and thank him for his positive, sunny personality.
Although Gerhard Franzen held many honorary posts over the past 30 years, he never thought about collecting posts for vanity reasons. Since 1990, he was, among other things, chairman of the board of the Versorgungswerk des Hotel- und Gaststättengewerbes.
A legal intuition was obviously ingrained in him when it came to association work. He was a ‘walking Encyclopedia’ of regulations and laws within the hospitality industry, and often knew not only the appropriate paragraphs but also the ways to elegantly circumvent them. He remained true to this passion until the very end, when the municipal representatives at his place in Dallgow, Brandenburg, assigned him the role of mediator for neighborly disputes.
In his urge to get things moving and not miss out on good opportunities, Franzen was always on track for new deeds – even after his professional career. Usually, his wife Martina accompanied him and wasat his side. As founder and chairman of the BürgerBus Dallgow-Döberitz e.V. (BüBu), he launched an official and regular bus line for the growing community of Dallgow-Döberitz in 2013 and ran it with lasting success. The project, which among other things has made mobility as a successful idea, has been nominated for the German Commitment Award in 2019. There is no question that Franzen pulled the strings behind the scenes at the little red runabouts.
He was passionate about sitting behind the wheel himself – for him, driving the community bus was the most beautiful and grateful honorary job in the world.
For decades, Franzen was committed to the future of the hospitality industry in Germany and especially with the promotion of young talents. So there is no surprise that even after his death, he refrained from wilting floral offerings and instead asked for donations for the Association for the Promotion of Science, Research and Education in the German Hotel and Catering Industry.
Donations for the Association for the Promotion of Science, Research and Education in the German Hotel and Catering Industry e.V. under the following bank details:
IBAN DE03 3807 0059 0125 5801 00, BIC DEUTDEDK380