The Catering Equipment Suppliers Associations (CESA) runs an industry-specific qualification for professionals working in the UK foodservice industry. FEJ spoke with the new CESA chair, Simon Frost, to find out what the course entails and how purchasers and specifiers of catering equipment can benefit from it.
How would you summarise the Certified Food Service Professional (CFSP) programme for those that haven’t heard of it before?
CFSP provides candidates with a full knowledge of all aspects of a foodservice operation, from delivery through storage, kitchen prep, cooking and serving. It covers areas as diverse as equipment, best practices, legislation and marketing. Delivering learning in an easily accessible form, it is the only training scheme of its kind and is part of the global programme that is delivered in the UK by CESA.
How long has the programme been going and who is it accredited by?
CFSP launched in the UK in 2009 and is accredited by the University of West London. It originated in the USA, where it has been operating for over 20 years.
What prompted the launch of the programme and approximately how many graduates have passed through it in the UK now?
It was launched to raise the standards of professionalism through the industry. Its aim is to give an holistic approach to the foodservice operation, so that students get a complete understanding of all sides of the business. Over 300 foodservice professionals have attained accreditation, from across the industry. Companies whose personnel have taken CFSP training include names like Whitbread, Solihull Catering Services, The Cavendish, Abode Hotels, Le Bistro Pierre, DeVere and The Dukeries College.
Up to now, the majority of graduates have been from individuals working for catering equipment manufacturers and distributors. Why do you want to introduce more professionals from the end-user/operator community to the programme?
The more knowledgeable the operators are the stronger the industry is. For fast career progression and multitasking, the CFSP programme gives a strong breadth of knowledge for anyone in hospitality, regardless of their role. We happen to have had a majority of equipment suppliers and dealers go through the programme because we have most contact with them on a day to day basis. In the US, where the programme originated, over 60% of candidates are from operators. We expect that to become the case in the UK, too.
Why would an end-user purchasing or procurement professional benefit from taking the programme?
If you fully understand the individual foodservice processes and systems you can also understand the integration of those processes, with the effective delivery of food, drinks and service — from the loading bay right through to the customer. By taking the programme, you will also be in a position to ask the right questions of staff, managers and suppliers! Nowhere else is all this explained so concisely and so clearly. If you know how equipment works, and how it fits into the kitchen process, you will make more informed decisions. CFSP also takes account of the knowledge you already have, using an internationally-recognised evaluation of experience accreditation which runs alongside the study guide, seminar sessions and exam.
What sort of things could an end-user expect to learn from the programme that would be valuable for their day-to-day role?
They will already know some of it; CFSP fills in the gaps and areas that they have not yet been exposed to and joins it all up. Everyone taking the programme adds to the depth of their existing knowledge.
Is this programme squarely framed at the individual? Or is there a tangible benefit for operators to back it and encourage multiple members of staff to be involved?
Operators can use the CFSP ‘badge’ if they have put an employee through the CFSP programme, the company details will appear on the CFSP web site and the company and the individual each receive certificates indicating their success with CFSP. It allows companies to show their support for their staff, and underlines the expertise, training and knowledge of their personnel — whatever their role in the business. The individual can use the letters CFSP after their name on business cards, letters and emails.