The Future of Food and Beverage Management Research

Article excerpt

This article offers an overview of the current state of food and beverage management research and some recommendations for the future development of the field. It begins from the premise that establishing such an overview requires an appreciation of the condition and consequences of hospitality research more generally for food and beverage research. A second premise is that understanding of food and beverage research is inseparable from comprehending the nature and role of food and beverage education more generally within the hospitality field. The central theme developed from this is that food and beverage management research is a Cinderella subject even within the hospitality field, where the latter has more generally largely failed to establish credibility within the academy. The irony of this situation lies in the fact that food and beverage management is one of the central subjects that potentially defines hospitality management. The near-utopian prescriptions for the future of food and beverage management research centre on building connections to other food-related research and hence to hospitality, eschewing much of what currently passes for hospitality management research in an effort to rebuild the subject field around the industry's core concerns.

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This article is legislative in nature. Its purpose is to outline a future direction for food and beverage management research and is premised on the assumption that such direction is lacking. To justify the premise it is necessary to make a preliminary detour to consider the nature and role of food and beverage management education and practice within hospitality management education and practice more generally. This will assist in understanding the key argument of the article, namely that there is very little in the way of research into food and beverage management per se, and that to establish an effective research agenda requires understanding of a wider food and beverage literature.

In Which We Serve

Food and beverage management features as a significant part of the curriculum in most hospitality management courses. It is invariably seen as a practical subject broadly focused on two distinct sub-areas, food production and food service. Indeed, insofar as hospitality is a distinctive form of management and managerial activity, food and beverage management together with the management of accommodation defines this distinctiveness (Wood, 2000). Historically, extensive career experience in food and beverage management within the hotel sector has been seen as a necessary prerequisite to progress to becoming a general manager, more so than experience in the room's division (Wood, 1997). Although it is unclear as to whether this is still the case, within hospitality management education it has not much altered the strong central concept of a practically oriented food production and service model of food and beverage management.

The upshot of all this is that nearly all modern courses in hospitality management include, and cling to, a model of food and beverage management education that is training and operations oriented as reflected in core courses that require students to spend some of their time in kitchens learning how to prepare food for service in restaurants, and some of their time in hotel school-training restaurants serving the food that has been thus prepared. The model is a globally familiar one, even allowing for variants. The sheer costs of investing in (and maintaining) the facilities required for this educational model are not always palatable to the higher education institutions that host hotel schools. For example, the government encouraged expansion of hospitality education in the United Kingdom (UK) during the late 1980s and early 1990s, and university schools of management with no prior experience of offering courses in hospitality expanded into the field by outsourcing food and beverage training to local technical colleges with pre-existing kitchen and training restaurant facilities. …