Covid-19: the view from the FCSI Worldwide board

President of FCSI Worldwide William Caruso, plus regional chairs Eric Norman, Mario Sequeira and Remko van der Graaff discuss the crisis

The world is facing an unprecedented crisis. The foodservice and hospitality industry – and therefore all FCSI members – has been particularly challenged as hotels restaurants continue to shutter, laying off countless employees in the process. While the industry pivots to a delivery and takeout model, continuing to find smart ways to improvise in order to keep people fed and comforted all over the world and producing great advice to assist struggling businesses, uncertainty and misinformation are pervasive.

Below, the president and regional board directors of FCSI Worldwide give their view on the crisis from their part of the world and offer hope to an industry known for its resilience, perseverance and ability to withstand tremendous pressure. The abiding message is one of hope and fortitude:

William J. Caruso FFCSI, president, FCSI Worldwide

“This too shall pass”

I am sitting in my office in the United States, fresh from a trip to the United Kingdom. It was strange to see empty giant jetliners and huge empty airports, a site to behold for a guy past seven decades of witnessing world events such as riots, the Vietnam War, past market financial collapse and the like – mass pandemonium has set in as the worldwide media keeps us updated daily on the epidemic issues surrounding us.

As a worldwide Society, we have members in more than 60 countries around the world – many of whom have been affected in one way or another. Our hearts and prayers are with them – and all of you during these uncharted times.

I want you to know that our work and planning for Society events continues. These are uncertain times at best, but it’s also a period to be and stay strong, and to take care of each other as colleagues and friends. Take some time out of your busy schedules to send a note of encouragement to a Society colleague in Italy, China, South Korea, or your own country that may be hit especially hard by this once in a lifetime event.

Words of encouragement and offers of assistance in times of need are what the worldwide FCSI family is all about, and folks now more than ever, need to know that they have a support network to assist them.

“This too shall pass” – the timeless saying that puts things in perspective, is an appropriate verse for now. Better times are ahead and this will pass. Hang in there, all of you, and thanks for being a vital member of our great, worldwide Society. Stay safe and be well.

William J. Caruso FFCSI


Eric Norman FCSI, chair, FCSI The Americas

Facing the future

As I sit down to write this letter, I am finding myself in a state of disbelief.

Over the past week, the world has drastically changed. We are all coming to terms with our new reality. In a matter of three days, our region went from business as usual to a literal shut down of most, if not all, businesses.

One of the worst affected industries is our own. I can’t see into the future so it is hard to predict what the world will look like once this issue lands on your desk. This global pandemic will have far-reaching and long-term implications for the foodservice and hospitality industry. We are seeing the impact almost immediately as revenues dry up and millions have become unemployed in a matter of days.

With the constantly changing news and uncertain future, it may be difficult to see how we as FCSI members can make an impact at this time. With travel bans, quarantines, and social distancing, we need to all focus on the local level. The small businesses in our communities are getting crushed. I will do my part to support these businesses by ordering delivery and take-out when possible. Purchasing gift cards for the future is also another avenue to support businesses in your area. I suggest checking in with current and past clients to see if you can be of any assistance during this difficult time.

It is hard to predict how long this will all last but it is our professional obligation as leaders of our industry to be there on the other side. That may look different for each and every one of us but we must contribute in our own ways to assist in the recovery. Now more than ever we must SHARE, SUPPORT, and INSPIRE our colleagues, clients, friends, family and our fellow humans – we are all in this together.

Eric Norman FCSI


Mario Sequeira FCSI, chair, FCSI Asia Pacific

Resolve and determination 

At the time of writing this message, our world has been thrust into the Covid-19 pandemic. Our hospitality industry is one of the worst-hit with the social distancing requirements imposed globally to protect us all.

Trade shows, events and meetings have been cancelled with some rescheduled to later in the year. The future remains uncertain and our resolve and determination to continue doing our best each day will be challenged with matters out of our control.

It is times like these, that each of us, as part of our professional FCSI global association need to remain calm and confident and lead by example with our positive attitude and living our motto: to share, support and inspire each other.

Unprecedented times like these also provide us with valuable time to reflect on who we are, what are we doing and how can we change for the better. Your FCSI APD board is working behind the scenes on a range of initiatives to enhance our member value and also deliver better outcomes for our clients.

On behalf of the FCSI APD Board, I wish you continued success – and stay connected. Words can inspire, thoughts can provoke, but only action brings you closer to success.

Mario Sequeira FCSI 


Remko van der Graaff FCSI, chair, FCSI Europe, Africa, Middle East

Finding strength

As I write these words, in the context of Covid-19, the world has turned completely upside down during this period.

There is a great deal of uncertainty and everyone is wondering ‘What will happen? Where does this end up? What does this mean for me?’ Primarily you and your family and friends will be busy looking after each other and staying as healthy and strong as possible. Countries are completely locked down while face-to-face, social contact is now fulfilled via the digital network.

I hope that you and your family and friends have found the strength to get through this difficult time. In this period of uncertainty, beautiful initiatives are also being developed that promote social cohesion in cities, villages, neighbourhoods and streets. There is a great respect for all the people working in the healthcare and retail sectors, and other ‘front-line’ businesses. Young people are more concerned with the elderly in our communities than ever before. There are groceries and restaurants providing free meals. What fantastic initiatives these are.

I see and I can feel that in this period that your business is likely to be under severe pressure and I hope your government supports you in this great challenge we all have in keeping our businesses up and running. The FCSI EAME board has decided, because of the situation in the world, to postpone the FCSI EAME conference from October 2020 to spring 2021 instead. We will inform you with more detail about this separately.

For now, I wish you all strength, stay safe and look after each other. I look forward to seeing you again, somewhere in the world in the near future.

Remko van der Graaff FCSI



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