Food service or catering business refers to those companies, establishments, and businesses involved in the food preparation, serving, or retailing of any food, typically outside the home. This sector includes hotels, cafeterias, schools and hospitals, as well as several other venues. The food service business usually employs people who have a culinary training, although others may have no formal training at all. Typically, the training required covers food service management and kitchen operations. However, a few courses are available for those interested in preparing and serving food, as well as those interested in marketing their food service operation.
Communication Skills Communication is very important in this industry. There are many roles that food service workers play. One of them is a cashier, who takes orders from the customers and passes them on to the cooks or chefs. The caterer prepares the food and then delivers it to the customers. Orderlies such as servers and order takers usually communicate information back to the kitchen.
Culinary Management The most important role for a food service manager is in the preparation and service of the food. Food service management includes everything from ordering supplies, to staffing, to billing and accounting. Service managers in restaurants often supervise the cooking staff, as well as the dining room service, menu planning and purchasing. A degree in Food service management will prepare students for positions related to restaurant operations. Graduates will be able to enter several different positions available in the restaurant industry.
Dining Room Service The most common position for food service management professionals is in the dining room service area of restaurants. Usually, servers in dining rooms are responsible for delivering food, picking up leftovers, as well as taking orders for drinks and desserts. Some servers are also responsible for greeting customers, taking their order, and taking them through the restaurant. Many of these servers have a backup system in place in case of a problem.
Kitchen Management Part of the responsibility of a kitchen manager is in the preparation and service of the food. In larger restaurants, the entire staff works under the manager, who often reports to upper-level management. Kitchen staff may include chefs, prep cooks, bussers, dishwashers, food cutters and more. Students interested in a career in the food service industry should consider a Master’s degree in Kitchen Management. The program will teach students how to run an efficient kitchen and also demonstrate techniques that will help to create a profitable business.
Foodservice Marketing The food service management professional needs to be skilled at advertising and public relations, as well as customer service. One of the most important aspects of food service management is the ability to effectively communicate with customers. Public relations activities can help to promote specials, attract new clients, keep customers coming back and increase the restaurant’s profits. Communication skills are especially important for smaller businesses, where word of mouth is the fastest way to gain a new customer. In larger restaurants, food service managers must deal with complaints from customers and employees alike. A food service manager must work well with his or her employees, making sure everyone understands the restaurant’s policies and procedures and communicating the expectations and rules clearly to everyone.
Food Service Distributors A career in the food service industry involves the handling of all the distribution tasks for restaurants. It is the job of the food service distributor to transport products from the suppliers to the restaurants. It is also the job of the food service distributor to handle and deliver new products to restaurants on behalf of a wholesaler. Food service distributors may also work at vendors and grocery stores, delivering products directly to consumers. Food service distributors may also be self-employed and serve as independent contractors.
Cafeterias Restaurants relies on cafeterias to provide their customers with quality food. However, cafeterias are also a source of stress and frustration to restaurant owners because of the often long lines, long hours, and crowded conditions. Cafeterias are an attractive target for food service distributors because they offer a flexible schedule that allows them to earn multiple income streams. Some cafeterias offer weekend service, early bird service, daily service, late night service, and vacation service. If a restaurant owner can combine these services into one package, it will increase profitability.