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In my view: Catherine Bournizien

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Associate FCSI member Catherine Bournizien of Phinea Conseil in Lyon, France, discusses her career and influences with Michael Jones

When I was four or five I wanted to be a doctor. Then, when I was around 10 or 12, a palaeontologist so I could discover new dinosaurs. Not much to do with my current job in food, except perhaps the bones.

After 30 years as a catering specialist in the French Armed Forces I set up my own consulting firm to share the knowledge I have acquired.

The foodservice industry is vibrant. The human factor is essential and the quality of meals depends upon the involvement of the production team. Food affects everyone, from infants to old people. Meals provide the perfect occasion to observe the basic trends of today’s world, because food is a reflection of the art of living together.

I am proud to have been accepted into the FCSI network that gathers so many different skills and experiences. Exchanging ideas with other industry professionals gives me a toolbox that’s always up to date and expanding.

The industry has many contradicting requirements: food must be good, made with local products, but at the lowest cost, while giving greater freedom to the customer who wants to informed of what they are eating. Clients are increasingly ‘flexitarian’. Traditional French meals are no longer enough to satisfy them. The catering solution must take into account new issues such as sustainability. The challenge is to create new solutions accessible to all.

Consultants can no longer arrive with a ready-made miracle solution. We must have the humility to put ourselves in the place of each customer, understand their problems and find a custom-made solution from the toolbox that each consultant has built throughout their career.

I have learnt not to take anything for granted. It is not enough to decide to implement solutions solely from an office. Real change is possible only when everyone participates.

All the professionals I have met have taught me something and helped me to progress. Certain personalities have made a marked impression upon me, particularly Bruno Goussault and Joël Robuchon, who is, in my mind, one of our greatest chefs.

I’d advise young consultants to be curious about everything and ask questions. But also pay attention to those who have walked before you. They may have experienced similar issues and can help you.

Michael Jones