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People: Editor’s choice – the change-makers

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Tina Nielsen offers her selection of industry individuals and groups who should be recognised for their outstanding contribution in 2018

This year has seen a number of FCSI members being acknowledged for their extraordinary contribution to the foodservice sector. Three FCSI professional members – Clara Ming Pi FFCSI, Edmeston Bernard FFCSI and Edwin Norman FFCSI – were inducted into the FCSI Council of Fellows, while a number of additional Professional and Allied members received must-deserved awards for their outstanding work throughout 2018.

Sadly, 2018 also saw the Society lose John C. Cini FFCSI (PP), Andrew Humble FCSI, Sherman Robinson FCSI and William Watts FCSI (EM), all of whom contributed greatly to FCSI and will be sadly missed.

Away from FCSI, the industry saw many important, game-changing contributions to progressing the sector. Here then is a selection of those worthy of our praise and recognition.

THE SOCIAL MOVEMENT: #MeToo

When accusations against big name chefs of harassment, exploitation and prejudice started to appear in 2018, some made a quick retreat, while others were determined to stay in business. The many revelations have emboldened women at all levels of the industry to speak out and discuss the issue of harassment in – and out of – the kitchen.

It kicked off a broader discussion of how to right some of the wrongs in foodservice culture, moving away from the “bro culture”. But in an industry that employs around 15 million people in the US alone change will not come quickly. A wholesale culture change is required and it may start with a poster – one of the early outcomes of the #MeToo conversations is a poster designed by the magazine Cherry Bombe.

Modelled on the campaign of the 1980s to help people deal with choking and intended to hang in back of house, the poster takes awareness of the problem and builds from there in order to affect wider culture changes.

THE INNOVATOR: Allen Zhang

The man behind WeChat, China’s ubiquitous social media app, which hit one billion users this year, is among the most admired in China’s technology world. Zhang ’s philosophy of putting users first has helped to make this the most used app in China.

Conceived by Zhang in 2010, five years after he joined technology company Tencent, WeChat is a messaging app and a lot more – used by Chinese consumers for everything from making phone calls and sending messages to making payments. It plays a part in a wider change in the foodservice sector, affecting the way people consume and pay for their food and how restaurants build a brand – consumers use WeChat to order meals and pay for their bills and enables them to share photos of favourite dishes and restaurants with friends.

Now senior vice president of Tencent, Zhang has hinted at plans to take WeChat offline as he continues his mission to make life easier for WeChat users.

THE LEGACY MAKERS: Those who left us

Three monumental figures in the world of food passed away in 2018. All have left significant legacies:

Paul Bocuse

In a career spanning 50 years, the much-admired French chef, built a legacy that went far beyond his home town of Lyon where he lived his entire life. One of the leading ambassadors of nouvelle cuisine in the 1970s, Bocuse was awarded his first Michelin star at his restaurant in Lyon in 1958 and went on to hold three stars from 1965. When he passed away he had nine restaurants in and around Lyon and several more abroad. He also created the Bocuse d’Or, the professional gastronomic competition. Bocuse passed away in Collonges- au-Mont-d’Or, France in January 2018, aged 91.

Anthony Bourdain

By his own admission more of a line cook than a chef, although Bourdain accumulated some success in the kitchen, he was to have a much wider impact beyond the kitchen. His breakthrough came in 2000 when he published Kitchen Confidential, chronicling his misdemeanours in the kitchen and allowing readers a first-ever look into restaurant kitchens. Since that time he found a natural home on television where he featured in programmes including A Cook’s Tour, No Reservations and Parts Unknown in which he explored local culinary culture and reported from destinations across the world. Bourdain took his own life in June 2018, aged 61.

Joël Robuchon

The man who originally intended to have a career as a priest later discovered his passion for food while cooking alongside nuns at a seminary. Operating more than a dozen restaurants in Bangkok, Bordeaux, Hong Kong, Las Vegas, London, Macau, Monaco, Montreal, Paris, Shanghai, Singapore, Taipei, Tokyo, and New York City, he would later go on to earn more than 30 Michelin stars in restaurants across the world, making him the most decorated chef ever. He has left behind a legacy in his restaurants across the world in countries including Japan, China, the US and the UK. In his illustrious career he was also named Chef of the Century by Gault Millau. Robuchon passed away in August 2018, aged 73.

Tina Nielsen