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What Are the Different Food Service Careers?

Waiters at upscale restaurants are expected to be familiar with various wine labels.
A head chef is responsible for creating a restaurant's menu.
Food service careers include servers, food preparers and managers.
Working at a cafeteria is one food service career.
In the food service industry, waiters and waitresses are now typically called servers, a more gender neutral term.
Gourmet chefs often devise signature menus and dishes that can make or break their culinary reputation.
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  • Written By: D. Jeffress
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 31 August 2014
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The food service industry incorporates some of the largest and most profitable businesses in the world. The public relies on the knowledge and skills of food service workers to provide them with safe, tasty food. There are many different types of food service careers available, including kitchen workers, waitstaff, administrative personnel, and restaurant managers. Most food service careers are found in restaurants, school and prison cafeterias, public venues, grocery stores, and lunchrooms.

Individuals who work behind the scenes in kitchens are responsible for preparing and cooking dishes. Cooks and food preparation workers combine ingredients according to recipes, cook food using various methods, and arrange meals on plates. Many restaurants staff head chefs to oversee operations in the kitchen, instruct cooks on how to prepare certain dishes, and ensure the safety and quality of food before it is served to customers. The education and training requirements for kitchen workers can vary greatly depending on specific job titles and places of employment. Most cooks and food preparation workers simply hold high school diplomas and food handling licenses, while many chefs receive extensive training and degrees from culinary schools.

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Many people enjoy food service careers as waiters, cafeteria workers, and restaurant attendants. Waiters and waitresses take customers' orders, relay them to cooks and chefs, and bring out food when it is ready. Cafeteria workers might be employed by schools, prisons, hospitals, or office buildings to prepare and serve large quantities of food. Restaurant attendants typically set tables, assist waiters with serving food, and clean up after customers have left. Most waiters, cafeteria workers, and attendants do not need extensive education or experience to find work, though individuals who have proven skills can obtain lucrative food service careers in private businesses and luxurious restaurants.

Many institutions and restaurants staff administrative experts to oversee advertising, hiring, training, payroll, and other related duties. While such individuals are not directly involved in food service, they are essential to maintaining successful businesses. Administrative positions in the food service industry are generally reserved for professionals with some business and human resources experience.

Food service managers are responsible for ensuring the overall success of a restaurant or cafeteria. They supervise both kitchens and dining areas to promote efficiency, quality, safety, and the satisfaction of customers. Managers may be responsible for ordering wholesale ingredients and maintaining food processing and cooking equipment. Food service careers in management are usually obtained after gaining several years of experience in other restaurant or cafeteria jobs. Some managers pursue bachelor's degrees in business or hospitality to increase their chances of finding employment with higher-end restaurants.

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Amphibious54
Post 3

@ Babalaas- I am glad that you bring up the intricacies associated with fine dining. I want to add something about management.

The article stated that most restaurants hire administrative professionals to run marketing, advertising, etc. This is true, but it applies mainly to restaurant chains, quick service, and fast food. Most fine dining establishments, family owned restaurants, and chef owned and operated establishments use industry insiders for these positions and outsource marketing, advertising, etc.

These independently owned restaurants are almost always managed by someone who has a cooking background. This could be someone professionally trained as an executive chef, or someone who rose through the ranks over a period of years. This is the only way that someone will be able to learn the ins and outs of the food service industry.

Chain restaurants, fast food restaurants, and fast casuals have established processes, so they do not have to rely on administrative professionals to create menus, decide on product, or train staff in cooking techniques.

Babalaas
Post 2

There are many different career paths within the major categories of the food service industry mentioned in the article.

Front of the house employees can range from hosts, wait staff, bartenders, cocktail waiters, and table bussers. In some high volume, fine dining establishments there may be resident sommeliers to aid in wine pairings as well as expeditors to ensure that the right order is going to the right table.

The back of the house can have just as many roles to fill. A restaurant might have bakers, pastry chefs, desert cooks, dishwashers, prep cooks, grill chefs, broiler chefs, sauté chefs, pizza chefs, sous chefs, and executive chefs. There may also be stations for appetizers and plating manned with prep cooks.

Although restaurant operations may be complex, there are positions for those starting out. You could start at the bottom and quickly work your way up to a position like front of the house manager or sous chef.

Fiorite
Post 1

Banquet workers and caterers are quite different from other restaurant and cafeteria based positions. These employees will often possess the skill sets of both wait staff and cooks.

Banquet servers often cook the food at the kitchen, transport the food to the function, set up the stations, and serve the food to the guests. Some stations may be self-serve, but other stations (carving, omelet, and grill) may require a cook that can take the orders, cook and plate the items, and serve the items.

The other types of food service employees involved in these types of operations may be bartenders, executive chefs, hosts, bussers, and cocktail servers.

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