Designing commercial kitchens is not something everyone can do because of the complexity of the equipment and systems in a kitchen. I provide institutional foodservice consulting services in hospitals, nursing homes, higher education, K-12 schools and production commissaries.
I had no aspirations to be anything as a child until I enlisted in the Marine Corps after high school. I have always loved construction and decided that once I left the Corps I would go to college and earn a construction degree. While working as an architectural draftsman at the State University of New York Binghamton I worked on a food court renovation project and I was hooked. I went to work for a small foodservice equipment dealer as a draftsman. My first job was rolling a pencil on a $800K IBM project, it was “learning under fire” but I loved it.
While mobilized to Iraq for a year with the Navy Seabees I did some soul searching about the next phase of my life. I decided to form CKC and start consulting on my own almost 10 years ago, it’s been a wild ride ever since.
I am an active member of FCSI’s Council of Professional Standards in The Americas. FCSI is the only accredited and recognized foodservice consultant society in the world. Their educational programs are second to none and recognized within the Architect Institution of America (AIA).
The biggest challenge for the sector right now is education. Equipment dealers don’t spend a lot of resources educating foodservice industry novices. Most lose interest and leave the industry, while others flounder through years of trying to figure it out, costing the equipment dealer a lot of money.
For consultants, the biggest challenge is unrealistic timeframes. Communication and uncertainty within the design team is always challenging because the kitchen is a complex space and most engineers and architects do not feel comfortable or understand the kitchen space.
My advice to younger consultants is have fun. The foodservice industry has many different opportunities. For me consulting has been the most rewarding because I see the end result. You may initially have to do boring stuff, but be patient and work your way up – you will reap the rewards.
Away from work I enjoy going to car shows. I also love to work with wood, making furniture and toys for friends and family.
Michael Berard FCSI