Filling Our Role

Michael Keck
Chairman, FEDA
President, Concept Services
michaelkeck@conceptserv.com

I love to cook. I’m not a chef, just a curious cook who isn’t afraid to burn things. One of the things I love to do is try new things. All I need is a bit of inspiration and then off I go. So, when I was at the local farmer’s market a few weeks ago, I asked the seafood purveyor if he had anything special. He smiled, reached into a cooler and produced this incredible slab of coho salmon that was line caught by sustainable fishers in Alaska. It was all the inspiration I needed. (It doesn’t take much, to be honest). Thinking I needed to do something that truly respected this appetizing find, I challenged myself to learn how to cure salmon using my own equilibrium vacuum cure. Then I thought, ‘what goes better with cured salmon than bagels?’ So, I figured out how to make bagels from scratch too. Hard to beat fresh lox and homemade bagels for dinner!

It’s so easy to fall down a rabbit hole when you start scratching a passion, but it’s important to remember it all started with a guy telling me he had a good piece of fish. People in the food industry touch our lives every day. Whether it’s bringing us together over an anticipated meal or satiating our dreams of becoming a chef, food is a pleasure that all cultures enjoy. Despite this, the restaurant industry has taken repeated hits the past few years. Many doors will never reopen and those that did are struggling against staffing shortages and higher food prices.

Restauranteurs make a difference to their community, and as equipment dealers, we must also recognize the difference we make to them. It’s why I am so excited to hear from Guy Fieri at the 2022 FEDA Annual Conference. Fieri has made a career out of uplifting the people behind the dining experiences we all enjoy, from his work hosting Food Network shows like Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives to his extensive charitable resume. He’s a person who genuinely understands that everything about the industry is interwoven and that the contributions of the service tech fixing refrigerators are just as important as the mom-and-pop owners who work the kitchens. We are part of that, too, and I sincerely hope everyone who attends the conference will leave with a renewed understanding of our purpose in the larger American culture.

The FEDA Annual Conference is always one of the best opportunities to reflect on those deeper questions and where we are headed. We can sit down and have long conversations with our peers about what’s going on in the industry – and what we can do about it. The speaker lineup for the conference will undoubtedly provide plenty of fuel for conversation, with presentations from our manufacturing partners and distribution experts like Dirk Beveridge. I’m also curious to hear what insights Steve Forbes, chairman and editor-in-chief of Forbes Media, has about the unprecedented macro-level headwinds creating so much fog around our economic future.

We couldn’t ask for a better place to hold these conversations than San Diego. It’s Southern California, so even the uninitiated should know it’s going to be awesome, but the city is also home to many bucket-list golf courses and an acclaimed dining scene. Attendees will have no shortage of options for how they reconnect. Our annual commitment to come together is proof the relationship element of this industry is alive and thriving. And, as the 2022 FEDA Annual Conference will show, we all have an irreplaceable role to play.