Chester Goodsell

Life summary

Death

November, 2020

Cause of death

Glioblastoma

Occupation

  • CEO & Director of Xyris Software
  • Dietitian

Key events

  • Inventor of FoodWorks, the leading software package for nutrient analysis in the Southern Hemisphere. 
  • Led the recent development of FoodWorks 10, 2019.

Key organisations

  • Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ)

Workplaces

  • Xyris Software

Chester Goodsell   

Prepared by Associate Professor Yasmine Probst AdvAPD and Dr Sara Grafenauer FDA

It is with great sadness that we share the news that longstanding dietitian, Chester Goodsell, CEO and Director of Xyris Software (Australia) Pty Ltd, passed away in November 2020. Chester was known to many as the inventor of FoodWorks, the leading software package for nutrient analysis in the Southern Hemisphere. He worked tirelessly behind the scenes supporting his passion for food composition and was as an incredible supporter of our profession as dietitians. 

Chester studied his Bachelor of Science at the University of Queensland (UQ) and Graduate Diploma in Nutrition and Dietetics at Queensland University of Technology (QUT). As a new graduate, Chester worked at Wollongong Hospital before returning to his studies. It was his next qualification, a Bachelor of Arts (Hons) in Computer Science at UQ in the 1980s that inspired the development of a pioneering Australian program for nutrition analysis, one that many of us would become all too familiar with. Chester knew that there was a release planned of the first Australian ‘computerised’ food composition tables (NUTTAB), on 5.4” floppy disk in 1989, and he saw this as an opportunity to create nutrition analysis software. 

While completing his honours degree Chester followed this path and began to develop a unique software application for dietitians. This program became known as DIET/1. In 1997, Chester completed development of the first version of FoodWorks, Windows-based software to replace the DOS-based DIET/1. Through its many releases, FoodWorks has remained the flagship software for Xyris.

Xyris Software was established in 1989 and grew to provide software solutions for dietitians, nutritionists, food technologists, food companies, home economists, publishers, researchers, sports professionals and nutrition educators. Chester has provided tools for secondary and tertiary educators spreading his passion of nutrient data out to the masses. Thousands of nutritionists and dietitians across Australia will have used the software during their university studies, often with little thought about what the numbers on screen mean but more importantly without a thought to the amazing dietitian who was behind its creation. 

Xyris has always included dietitians (APDs) as a vital part of its team, again emphasising Chester’s support of our profession. In more recent years Xyris became a Member Partner of Dietitians Australia maintaining this connection over several years. Many of you would recognise the Xyris stand at our annual conference, often manned by Chester himself, full of excitement for a pending new release or ready to talk ideas for his upcoming software plans. 

The business has continued to innovate for over three decades under Chester’s steady guidance. Chester was instrumental in developing Food Choices, a curriculum resource for secondary schools, in collaboration with Home Economics Institute of Australia, with its first version launched in 2001. FoodWorks Nutrition Labelling for the food industry was launched in 2003, creating a tool to be used by the growing number of industry dietitians. At this time Xyris was also supporting dietitians who had a similar passion for food data, being an industry partner of early ARC funded University of Wollongong innovation followed by success in NHMRC funding with his support immediately after. It was his passion to see food data translated for the user in a practical and logical manner.

Chester’s vision for the business was to assist all Australians. The launch of Easy Diet Diary in 2012 was a leap in doing this, a tool that he had spoken about in amazing detail for many years prior. The free Easy Diet Diary app is distinguished from the popular U.S. calorie counter apps, as it is specifically for Australians using Australian food composition data. His focus on the users sees it include a customised, branded database of thousands of food items, making it increasingly useful by comparison to our default food databases. The added benefit for dietitians was the interface with FoodWorks - a major advantage for Australian dietitians and nutritionists.

Chester’s software has supported the teaching and learning of key dietetic skills for thousands of Australian graduate dietitians as we learnt not only assessment methodology but also the intricacies of moving the food information to nutrient data. Little did we know about retention factors and tag names that save us many (many) hours of long-hand calculations. He also supported multiple student research projects with a flurry of ideas, many of which will continue beyond his time. Chester served on the Advisory Group for Food Composition for FSANZ from 2008 and worked toward the coding of food composition data so that it could be available for the first time online.

Over the years Chester remained a supportive colleague to many researchers Australia-wide, bringing emerging and innovative data to the forefront in new releases of FoodWorks or adapted models of his app. He was a smiling face at a range of food and nutrition conferences including the OCEANIAFOODS conference where he joined a network of people with common interests in the details behind the food.

Chester led the recent development of FoodWorks 10, which was released in 2019 only weeks before his diagnosis of glioblastoma grade 4. After his diagnosis, Chester continued to work, propelling the business into new product development to ensure FoodWorks users a path forward into the future.

Chester has had a long-lasting impact on many of us and he will be remembered for years to come as we log in to our computers to analyse yet another diet record, or break down a recipe into its components, grumbling at how to accurately work out the yield without cooking the recipe first. Thankfully though, for all of us, Chester’s legacy lives on with his son, Declan, stepping into manage the business and a number of exciting projects due for roll-out in 2021.

Read about other prominent members in Lectures in Honour and obituaries.