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.
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.