Senior FCSI associate Nathalia Sifuentes, managing director of FoodService & Laundry Consultant in Sao Paulo, Brazil, tells Michael Jones about her career
As a child I wanted to be an oceanographer first, then an investigative journalist, and finally a cook. I became a foodservice consultant through my love of cooking combined with the fact my father is an equipment dealer in my home town. I ended up testing equipment and working with several chefs when I was still very young.
After a few years in Europe, I came back to Brazil and saw how much design and equipment could affect a hospitality operation.
I come from a food and beverage and hospitality background. I design foodservice and laundry back-of-house for hotels and healthcare facilities.
The foodservice sector is never dull. The relation between people and food is constantly changing and deepening, which directly affects how we will approach a project.
Foodservice consulting is still a very young activity in our country. There isn’t a code or a union or even formal education. Being part of FCSI gives us the possibility to build the group according to the specifics of the country and improving our own assets to raise the bar of Brazilian foodservice facilities.
In Brazil the role of the foodservice consultant is still considered dispensable. We still deal with questions such as: “Why hire a consultant if the manufacturer/dealer gives me an equipment layout for free?” Or, worst of all, being seen as enemies by manufacturers when you choose what you believe is best for the project.
I consider Eli Osatinski my ‘Yoda’ for helping me shape my abilities, but I have learnt from many people: my first employer chef Eduardo Avelar; Solange and Jacques Thorel from L’Auberge Bretonne in France; foodservice architect Renata Zambon; Jason Clarke who guided me through juggling my career and motherhood; Simone Galante who I look up to as a professional and female leader; and Armando Pucci FCSI, who I’ve been collaborating with.
My advice to young consultants is to invest your time in being part of foodservice operations. You can always bring your expertise to the table, but there’ll be no one project like another. If you wrap up a project without having learnt anything new, you didn’t give 100%.
Gardening has been a pleasure since I discovered I can grow awesome tomatoes on the balcony of my apartment.