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International FCSI consultants debate the future of commercial kitchens at HostMilano 2017 roundtable

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The event, supported by Electrolux Professional, was held in Milan, Italy, in October and addressed how fundamentally commercial kitchens are changing and the impact on people, profits and the planet. Michael Jones chaired the event, to be covered in full in Foodservice Consultant's Q1 2018 edition

“FCSI,” says William Taunton, president of FCSI Worldwide, “is all about education. Today, we’re here to educate.” On Saturday 21 October 2017 at HostMilano 2017 in Milan, Italy, learning about the future of commercial kitchens and sharing experiences and case studies from across the globe was on the agenda as Taunton and seven other FCSI member consultants took part in a special roundtable supported by Electrolux Professional. A comprehensive write-up of the roundtable will be published in the Q1 2018 edition of Foodservice Consultant magazine, which goes to press in January 2018, while the following video link gives a sneak preview into the event.

The topic of the roundtable, ‘Defining smart kitchens for the future’, addressed how the consultant attendees (see below) believed the foodservice industry is, or should be, re-defining the design, performance and efficiency of commercial kitchens for the benefit of the people working in them. Improving kitchens from a design, management and operations perspective is a subject close to FCSI’s heart and one covered in every edition of Foodservice Consultant magazine. The roundtable therefore presented a fascinating opportunity to capture some of the cutting-edge thinking behind new processes, ways of thinking and products on the market with a selection of consultants at the forefront of this issue.

Reducing stress in the kitchen

Following a lunch and networking event at the FCSI booth at the show, the attendees decamped to the FieraMilano boardroom for the one-hour roundtable. After an introductory speech from Alberto Zanata, CEO of Electrolux Professional, a video was shown of the brand’s groundbreaking ‘Taste the Stress’ campaign. “I believe that as an industry we can do more,” says Zanata. “When walking around this exhibition you clearly see it is an industry that is still [too] focused on products and structures. I believe we can step up on this and think about the people who are operating the product. I’m sure we can do much more than that.”

This proved to be a pertinent jump-off point for the consultants who, for the next hour debated the changes they are encountering in commercial kitchens and how technology, improved equipment and better training and education can create a more positive and supportive atmosphere for employees working in commercial kitchens.

“Commercial kitchens are changing. They are typically getting smaller and budgets also getting smaller so you have to become more creative with the spaces that are available to us. We have to think vertically as well as horizontally when we’re designing, but also think about the people that have to work in them as well,” says Ken Schwartz FCSI, who attended the roundtable.

“Is the industry doing enough to support and protect people who work within foodservice? It’s a broad question that has to start with the environment – air quality, air safety, air temperature but also function and flow of the kitchen, cross patterns of staff, product, warewashing and dirty trash. All of these things have to be considered when designing kitchens. But I’m very positive about how the industry is changing because we’re the ones changing it. We’re the ones creating change within the industry,” says Schwartz.

Sharing experience

Following an excellent debate the ‘Defining smart kitchens for the future’ roundtable demonstrated that FCSI is leading the way and “stepping up”. Speaking after the roundtable, Thomas Mertens FCSI agreed. “I learned a lot. The roundtable is about sharing knowledge, sharing experience and sharing the future. A future we can build only together, when we share.”

See the Q1 2018 edition of Foodservice Consultant magazine, in print and online, for the full coverage of the roundtable.

Attendees at the roundtable:

  1. William Taunton FCSI (Chile)
  2. Martin Rahmann FCSI (Germany)
  3. Thomas Mertens FCSI (Germany)
  4. Frank Wagner FCSI (Germany)
  5. Alexander Hofer FCSI (Italy)
  6. AJ Barker, associate FCSI member (US)
  7. Ken Schwartz FCSI (US)
  8. Nahum Goldberg FCSI (US)
  9. Chair: Michael Jones, Foodservice Consultant
  10. Opening presentation: Alberto Zanata, CEO of Electrolux Professional

Michael Jones