Food service is a large industry which deals with the preparation and service of food outside the home. Catering a wedding, establishing a restaurant, and running a cafeteria are all forms of this service. Many people take advantage of the range of options provided by this industry all over the world, ranging from stopping at a franchise to pick up a burger and fries to eating a prescription diet while in the hospital.
A number of goods and services fall under the umbrella of food service, such as companies which transport food and related products like kitchen equipment, silverware, and so forth. Restaurateurs, waiters, bussers, chefs, and dietitians are some examples of people who work in the food service industry, along with people like architects who design facilities where food is made and served, company representatives who travel the road selling products related to the service and sale of food, and consultants who help people coordinate events at which food will be served.
Some people in this industry receive special training so that they can work in food service. Some colleges and trade schools offer hospitality programs which can include things like restaurant management, and people can also receive special training in issues like nutrition for hospitalized patients or children in schools. Other people start from the ground up, driving trucks for food distributors, waiting tables at restaurants, and so forth, gaining an understanding of the industry by working from within it.
Work in the food service industry can be grueling and demanding, even for managers and executives. The hours are often long and irregular, and people tend to spend a lot of time on their feet, dealing with varied and complex situations. As with other facets of the hospitality industry, people must also be highly attuned to the need for customer satisfaction, whether they are developing menus for a college dining hall or providing service at four star French restaurants.
In some regions of the world, work in in this industry is treated as demeaning or degrading. People may opt to work in food service while between jobs, or while struggling to make their way in the world. Wages are heavily based on tips from customers, and employees may have limited access to benefits and protections from the government such as minimum wage laws. In other areas, food service is an honorable profession, for everyone from waiters to the people who own famous restaurants.