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In my view: Ann W. Delap FCSI

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Independent foodservice consultant Ann W. Delap FCSI is based in Knoxville, Tennessee. She discusses her career and her views on FCSI

I design primarily school kitchens, but my projects have included employee cafeterias, stadium concessions, hospitals, prisons, a cook/chill facility, restaurants, churches and even a cupcake shop.

I love the people in this business. I enjoy solving problems for my clients.

As a child, I liked studying the house plans in the Sunday paper. I would rework them if they could be improved. I wanted to be an interior designer.

After graduating from Auburn University with a degree in interior design, I went to work for an architect. I was asked to design the kitchen and cafeteria of a school. I learned about equipment by attending training demos and trade shows and found I enjoyed designing foodservice facilities.

I went to work for Scruggs in Knoxville, a family-owned foodservice equipment dealer (now Tri-Mark). I learned to do plumbing and electrical drawings and detail custom fabricated equipment. I left in 2007 and started my own business as an independent foodservice consultant.

FCSI has raised the bar for membership and put foodservice consultants on the same professional footing as architects and engineers.

Meeting changing customer expectations is one of the biggest challenges for foodservice operators. Attracting and keeping dependable labor is another.

Designing enough flexibility into kitchens to meet changing needs is a challenge for consultants, particularly with smaller building footprints. This is true for clients who are trying new concepts and have not finalised menus.

I owe my knowledge about school foodservice to the late Marilyn Haga. I also owe a debt to the chefs, professional operators and factory reps with whom I have worked. They have made suggestions that improved my designs and made me look like an expert (even when I wasn’t).

My advice to younger consultants is learn the current tools of the trade, like Revit, attend trade shows and visit factories. Visit bars and restaurants. This is an industry where learning and fun can be one and the same.

When I am not working I love listening to the blues and curling up with my kitties.