The FCSI Educational Foundation launches certificate

Several years in the making, the certificate program is the first to prepare students for work as a foodservice consultant professionally

The new year has started brightly for the Educational Foundation (EF) as the FCSI Foodservice Consultant Certificate Program, kicks off at Western Kentucky University (WKU).

The foodservice design module, which is part of the all-encompassing Certificate program, officially launched on 16 January and other classes will follow.

The modules of the complete certificate program are: Food service sanitation; Materials and finishes for ID; Digital rendering for interiors; Commercial foods preparation; Food service design; and Menu planning and purchasing.

“The driving factors behind the EF’s initiative to develop and launch the foodservice design certificate program are, to provide the basic knowledge of foodservice design for those who are seeking a career in our industry,” says Garrett Lennon FCSI of JLR Design Group and president of FCSI EF. “We also want to promote and highlight the fantastic group of professionals that make up FCSI and help bolster its presence in the design industry as well as grow future membership.”

Run in close partnership with WKU, the program will give students the grounding they need to enter the profession as a foodservice consultant.

Creating a path

It will also be of great benefit to consulting firms. The significant challenge in hiring people for the profession that the industry has experienced in the past few years is no secret and the aim is for this program to help meet this challenge. As EF board member Kathleen Held, CEO and president of Cini Little International, says, most people don’t even know that foodservice consultant exists as a job opportunity.

“We see people who have been on the operations side, taking management courses or professional chefs or even people who come from architecture or interior design and whose families have experience running restaurants, but there is no real course focused on people who want to become foodservice consultants,” she explains.

“It helps consultant firms because it is incredibly expensive to have consultants who should be billing on a project but who are instead training a new staff member. We are trying to create a path where new consultants join with a baseline understanding and can start working on projects straight away.”

This, she believes, is the first course of its kind. “Others have launched foodservice design programmes but we have based this foodservice consultant course around the books that FCSI members study for Professional status, which makes it unique,” she says.

Once the certificate program is underway the FCSI EF board will continue to be immersed in the activities, providing lecturers and mentors while promoting the FCSI student memberships. The aim to set up a grant program and promote the FCSI student memberships. It will also provide a great launchpad for the internship program that were put on the backburner when the pandemic hit.

“This program really gives us an opportunity to have students that could easily fit into a firm as interns,” says Held.

A formula for expansion

At the stage where the Foundation issued the RFP 15 to 20 universities responded with interest and WKU was judged to be the ideal launch partner. “We found that WKU had the right mix of open collaboration and supporting auxiliary academics.,” says Lennon. “WKU is able to draw from its existing design and hospitality centric courses to help create a robust foundation for the certificate curriculum.”

The amount of initial interest signals clear potential for expansion into other universities. Ultimately the ambition is to replicate the programme and Held says the Foundation has already had enquiries from other universities. “We have asked them to be patient and wait because we want to make sure the formula is absolutely correct,” she says. “Once we have that, the goal is to launch , not only across North America and Canada, but to other educational institutions across the world.”

As Lennon concludes, while the primary goal of the certificate is to benefit foodservice design firms by creating a larger pool of qualified potential employees, there is a longer term ambition at play: “The hope is that this will, in-turn, advance the future of foodservice design as a whole.”

For more information about the Foodservice Consultant Certificate Program, please visit:

The FCSI Educational Foundation (FCSI EF) is a non-profit organization that is committed to working with members to secure the future of the foodservice consulting industry through nurturing the next generation of professional foodservice consultants. 

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