Online Exclusive: People of Influence, A Historical Perspective

These people have left lasting marks on the non-commercial foodservice industry.

These folks are influencers for the history books.

With FoodService Director’s first Most Influential list, we targeted 20 individuals and groups—including one institution—that we believe represent the strongest group currently having an impact on the non-commercial foodservice industry. But during our discussions, we also talked about people who have left a legacy of influence on the industry.

Such a list could be endless, we realized, and even more open to debate. Even within the last 30 years there are scores of people who have made lasting contributions to this business. But we decided to call out nine individuals whose impact on the industry remains palpable even today. We hesitate to tab them with the moniker “Most Influential” because we have not put nearly the depth of research and thought that went into our 20 Most Influential. So let’s call them our Nine People of Influence.

Michael Bailey: Back in the mid 1990s, a brash young Englishman by the name of Michael Bailey took the foodservice management industry by storm with a radical philosophy: Acquire smaller contract companies and then allow them to operate as discrete units, almost as if they were still independent companies. As president of Compass Group North America, Bailey parlayed that strategy into a multi-billion-dollar empire that included such entities as Bon Appétit Management Co., Restaurant Associates, Flik International and Thompson Hospitality. It was a sound strategy, and one that continues to work, with Bon Appétit and its approach to sustainability a prime example. His approach was unique to the contract management business, but his efforts set in motion a period of mergers and acquisitions within the foodservice industry that changed the face of that business forever.

Jacques Bloch: In 1982, Jacques Bloch cemented his place in foodservice history when he became the first—and, so far, only—hospital foodservice director to be honored with the Gold Plate Award from the International Food Manufacturers Association. But the influence of the man who spent most of his career as the director of food and nutrition at Montefiore Medical Center in The Bronx, N.Y., on the foodservice industry had been felt since 1967, when he helped found the American Society of Hospital Food Service Administrators and served as its first president. Bloch lived to see a group of ASHFSA members split off to create the National Society for Healthcare Foodservice Management and to see ASHFSA and HFM merge to form the Association for Healthcare Foodservice, before passing away last year at the age of 91.

Philip Cooke: Phil Cooke learned about the foodservice industry as a journalist, working for several industry trade publications in his career. In 1969, however, he started a new career as a business manager when he created Food Service Associates in order to manage the National Industrial Cafeteria Managers Association. Over the past four decades FSA has helped guide the fortunes of numerous similar professional organizations, including the Association for Healthcare Foodservice and the Society for Foodservice Management. In fact, Cooke was instrumental in helping to found SFM, which was formed as a merger between NICMA and the Association for Food Service Management.

Angelo Gagliano: In 1987, a group of hospital foodservice directors met in a New York City restaurant to discuss a way to combat the incursion of contract management companies into hospital foodservice. They were led by Angelo Gagliano, the director of food and nutrition for New York Hospital Cornell Medical Center. Their idea was to form a new organization, one that would represent only the interests of “self-op” foodservice in the healthcare field. The National Society for Healthcare Foodservice Management was born, with Gagliano as its first president. HFM grew into a formidable force, with more than 1,000 members at its height.

John L. Hennessy: Every spring the U.S. Air Force recognizes the best foodservice operations in the Air Force with the Hennessy Awards. In so doing, it pays homage to John L. Hennessy, a hotel and restaurant executive who did much to support military foodservice efforts. During World War II, President Franklin D. Roosevelt appointed Hennessy chair of the War Food Committee, which was tasked with developing foodservice systems that would be able to feed millions of soldiers, sailors and airmen. Over the years Hennessy handled several tasks for the government that were either directly or indirectly related to military foodservice. In the early 1950s, as a member of the Hoover Commission charged with improving military foodservice operations, he recommended that the armed services create competitions that would encourage foodservice personnel to work harder to create high-quality programs. Hennessy died before that vision become reality, but the Air Force commemorated his efforts by naming its foodservice competition after him.

Loyal Horton: If Richard Lichtenfelt is the father of NACUFS, Loyal Horton could be considered the father of the NACUFS Leadership Institutes. It was Horton, working in concert with Lichtenfelt, who in 1965 presented the association’s first Supervisory Development Workshop. The seminar was designed to teach directors how to improve their staffs’ performance, and its success spawned several similar programs. In the mid-1980s, NACUFS created the first Leadership Institute, but its birth owes much to Horton’s vision. Today, NACUFS’ popular Dining Awards program is named after him.

Richard Lichtenfelt: Without Richard Lichtenfelt, there might not be a National Association of College & University Food Services. In early 1958 Lichtenfelt, the one-time foodservice director at Central Michigan University, proposed to group of his colleagues that they consider creating a formal association for college foodservice. Prior to that time, college directors met informally each year during the National Restaurant Association’s trade show in Chicago.
That summer, 20 directors accepted Lichtenfelt’s invitation and gathered at Central Michigan. They formed NACUFS and appointed Lichtenfelt its first president. He served for two years, and then remained active for many more. The organization he created honored him with the Distinguished Service Award in 1968, and a similar award for service, given by the NACUFS president, is named in his honor.

Shirley Watkins: In the annals of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Shirley Watkins is listed as the first African-American woman to be named Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services. But to members of the School Nutrition Association, she was someone who brought an operator’s perspective to an agency on which school foodservice operators rely very heavily. She honed her operational skills as director of child nutrition programs for Memphis City Schools in Tennessee, and was president of what was then the American School Food Service Association from 1988 to 1989. She also, along with Jane Wynn and Thelma Becker, helped create the National Food Service Management Institute.

Richard Ysmael: Many people regard Richard Ysmael as one of the most innovative foodservice operators in the Business & Industry segment. His foodservice program at Motorola was large enough to have its own name—Food Works—and was a model for what corporate dining could be. He was a mentor to many operators, and he also was one of the founders of the Society for Foodservice Management in 1979.  

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