For the Foodservice Consultant team, one of the highlights of The NAFEM Show ’19 was the staging of an FCSI The Americas consultants panel session. Supported by Irinox, and held at their booth, the session featured Wade Koehler CAE of FCSI The Americas Division, Joseph Schumaker FCSI of SCG FoodSpace and Ken Schwartz FCSI of SSA Restaurant Design + Foodservice Consulting.
The filmed session, addressing no less a weighty topic than ‘The future of commercial kitchens’ was chaired by Foodservice Consultant‘s Michael Jones. You can watch a video of highlights from the panel below.
One of the biggest impacts on commercial kitchens, says Koehler, is operators having to do “more with less space. But it’s about what you can do with that space.”
For Schwartz, “Space is always going to be a challenge, as well as budget. And sometimes those things go hand in hand. Most important is designing environments to help retain staff. Big turnover can be expensive. Each project has a different nuance or restriction. We just have to figure out how to fix those.”
Consultants staying abreast of new industry trends is, according to Schumaker, essential in order to tackle these challenges. “It’s a responsibility to keep up with trends, and not just for restaurateurs and operators.” This intelligence and insight, says Schumaker, allows consultants to be prepared for the future when “designing and building spaces.”
There are, says Schwartz, opportunities for consultants to “design in efficiencies that actually start to minimize or limit the amount of hires required to specifically operate. As talent pools become less and less we need to rely on design efficiencies to increase that.”
The best investment
Organizations such as FCSI, as well as industry shows such as NAFEM, are hugely important in order to face the challenges of the future, says Schwartz. “First of all [they give] access to manufacturing companies and that also allows us access to them. But it’s also about our relationship together. When you sit and exchange ideas ideas, it’s really invaluable. It’s some of the best investment of time any consultant can make.”
All three members of the panel felt very positive for the state of the industry and the future of commercial kitchens. “The industry is incredibly busy right now,” says Schwartz. “That provides the industry the opportunity to reinvest in its companies.”
For Schumaker, there are impacts of the sea-change variety on the horizon still to hit. And they will lead to a positive shake up of the sector. “50,000 food start-ups have come into the marketplace in the last 10 years. And they’re displacing big companies such as Campbell’s, Kellogg’s and General Mills. That’s about to start happening on the foodservice equipment side too. That’s a seismic change.”
According to Koehler, the dining habits of younger generations such as Millennials are having a huge impact on the sector. “The largest generation in the history of the world is about to hit its peak. They like dining and its social atmosphere, but it’s a different experience of dining out that we were used to when we grew up. For the next five to ten years I don’t see [the industry] slowing down at all. If anything, it’s going to keep on exploding.”
Also at the show, Michael Jones interviewed Ronald van Bakergem, president, IRINOX North America, on the subject of innovation and the future of commercial kitchens, which you can watch, here.