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Becoming a Catering Assistant – Job Description & Duties

Do you want to know what is required to become a catering assistant? If YES, here is a detailed job description of a catering assistant. A catering assistant is a person employed in the the catering or restaurant industry to help in preparing meal ingredients, setting up buffet stations, as well as load and unload food and catering supplies onto and off catering vehicles.

These assistants work alongside catering managers and they always ensure that customers and guests are satisfied with the catering services provided. Catering assistants also help in the kitchen as much as they can, with preparing food, cleaning, checking stock, accepting deliveries and serving food.

Catering assistants are also responsible for carrying out basic food preparation tasks such as washing and peeling food. They are also likely to organise the store room, and also lend a hand with loading and unloading suppiles. They will also collect and dispose of waste.

It is not unusual for a catering assistant to clean and cut up meat, fish and vegetables, as well as operate machinery. Catering assistants are required to be good communicators, not only to succeed in their contact with customers but also their co-workers.

Where Can Catering Assistants Work?

A catering assistant can work in a school, a café or restaurant, a hotel, a hospital, the armed forces, a waterpark, or many other places – there are so many opportunities available to them. As a catering assistant, you are likely to be working shifts including evenings, weekends and public holidays.

Of course, this will depend on where you work – if you are working in a school dining hall, you will only be required to work during the week. A restaurant’s working hours will differ from a private catering business. The average working week for a full time catering assistant is 40 hours, although around two-thirds of all kitchen jobs are part time and casual and seasonal jobs are also available.

They may be expected to start work very early or work at night, although shifts are also usually split between employees. On a positive note, the working environment can be enjoyable, and staff discounts or free meals may be available.

The work environment is likely to be noisy and can be stressful at busy times, such as lunch and dinner. The role of a catering assistant is suitable for both sexes (neither gender dominates the role) and for all ages, although due to health and safety laws regarding the use of specific equipment, such as knives, employees under the age of 18 may find that their role is restricted.

Catering assistants are also on their feet for most of the shift, so comfortable shoes need to be worn and the job is not suitable for anyone with back problems. Stamina and physical strength are also important for the job, as employees are expected to lift and carry heavy items regularly.

Catering Assistant Duties and Responsibilities

While a catering assistant’s day-to-day duties and responsibilities are determined by where they work, there are many core tasks associated with the role, and these include;

1. Assist in Food Preparation

Catering assistants help prepare food in the kitchen. They carry out basic food preparation tasks such as washing and peeling produce, making sauces and dressings, and slicing and cutting meat. When necessary, catering assistants handle machinery.

2. Schedule Catering Orders

Catering assistants maintain the schedule for catering orders. Keeping track of the schedule, they communicate with clients and ensure that availabilities are open for scheduled catering events.

3. Set Up Catering Events

At venues, catering assistants set up the event area. They position tables and chairs and ensure that utensils are prepared. They set up banners, tents, and other relevant items in off-site catering events.

4. Cleaning

A caterer’s assistant often handles the cleaning duties of the company, including cleaning dishes and equipment after an event and inspecting them before an event and cleaning any that are dirty. If the company has a permanent kitchen, the assistant might be responsible for keeping it up to health department standards and preparing for inspections.

5. Stock Supplies

Maintaining inventory, catering assistants ensure there is no shortage of supplies. When supplies and ingredients run out, catering assistants order more. When deliveries come in, catering assistants unload the supplies and organize the stock room.

6. Food Prep

A small caterer might hire an assistant primarily to assist with food preparation. The assistant might be limited to preparing simple items such as salads, desserts, box lunches or sandwiches. Once the food is prepared, the assistant would handle packing and storing the items until the event, transporting them, setting them up and serving. Caterer’s assistants often work carving stations or stand behind a buffet line to keep the food hot, the chafing dishes full and the area clean.

7. Handle Bill Inquiries

Catering assistants deal with billing for clients. They accept deposits when new orders come in, and they discuss the price of catering services with customers.

8. Inventory Management

A caterer either purchases and stores inventory or rents or leases it, with an assistant keeping track of inventory and supplies. A full-service caterer might supply tables, chairs, tablecloths and other on-site items needed for an event. Catering companies often hire equipment supply companies that specialize in food-service events.

When an event is booked, the caterer’s assistant will receive a list of food items from the caterer or the company’s chef and be tasked with purchasing, receiving and inspecting the items when they arrive.

Skills Required to Be a Catering Assistant

Working in a fast-paced environment, catering assistants assist in many processes for catered events. Organized and efficient, they frequently multitask and create schedules. In addition to having prior experience working with food, catering assistants possess the following skills and qualifications:

  1. Physical dexterity – having to stand for long periods of time, they also lift, pull, carry, and push items; bending, kneeling, and stooping are necessary for some functions of this position
  2. Hygiene – working with food, catering assistants pay attention to hygiene; cleaning up, they follow procedures for proper sanitation; they wash their hands and maintain a presentable appearance when preparing or serving food
  3. Customer service skills – maintaining a friendly and personable attitude, catering assistants answer customer questions and respond to complaints appropriately
  4. Teamwork skills – working as part of a team, catering assistants communicate effectively with other staff members to ensure catering events run smoothly, and they help out chefs, servers, and caterers

Education and Experience Required to Be a Catering Assistant

  • Must have a high school diploma.
  • For advanced or supervisory positions, must possess an Associate’s degree or Bachelor’s degree in culinary arts, culinary management, catering, or hospitality.
  • May require a certificate in culinary or food preparation or a minimum of two years in food preparation or service.

Average Salary of a Catering Assistant

Starting salary at $8.72 to $9.50 an hour with an average of $18,130 annually due to irregular scheduling.

Tips can supplement a low hourly pay.

Highest level salary between $30,000 and $35,000 a year.

How to Become a Catering Assistant

One way you could get into this career is by doing a hospitality apprenticeship. You can qualify for this with GCSE’s, depending on the level of the apprenticeship that you are applying to. You will learn everything you need to know on the job whilst gaining qualifications at the same time. The apprenticeship rate of pay is usually quite low, however this will go up on completion of the course and as you gain more experience.

If an apprenticeship isn’t for you, you could gain basic qualifications full time, before applying for a job as a catering assistant. There are often opportunities to gain further qualifications whilst working. If you can show a keen interest in the catering industry and have the basic food safety hygiene certificates on your CV, then the job should be yours in no time.