We think kitchen assistant is a great early-career role that will leave you with really strong transferable skills. It also gives you lots of options, from working your way up the kitchen ladder or taking your passion to other restaurants in other locations, even abroad.
So what is the job description of a kitchen assistant anyway?
A kitchen assistant supports other kitchen staff, including the chef or sous chef. That means preparing vegetables, meat and fish (cleaning and cutting); keeping the kitchen tidy and hygienic; and packing away deliveries of food, among other tasks.
There is some crossover between the roles of kitchen porter, kitchen assistant, commis chef, and junior chef, and you might find similar positions advertised with any of these names. However, a porter is usually the most entry level of these titles, whereas a junior chef might require some previous experience.
With that out of the way, here are three amazing skills that you learn as a kitchen assistant:
Skills You Learn Working In A Kitchen
It helps if you can demonstrate some of these skills (or at least an interest in learning them) when applying for a kitchen job, but keep in mind that a kitchen assistant is an entry level position. You can expect on-the-job training in order to develop these skills to a higher level.
1. Hygiene and safety standards
For the sake of public health and for the satisfaction of customers, it is important for society that we have people trained in food safety and hygiene. Food has a risk of contamination, and when food is produced at scale, the consequences of those risks are multiplied. A single bad ingredient can lead to sickness for tens or hundreds of people.
That is why food standards are taken very seriously. It is a legal duty that businesses take necessary steps to make sure that the food they provide is safe for the customer. These rules are outlined in various pieces of legislation such as The General Food Regulations 2004 and The Food Safety and Hygiene (England) Regulations 2013, among others. Though you don’t need to know the details of these laws, you do need to know how they affect the work you are doing.
For most kitchens, complying with the law means following specific processes that:
- keep premises clean
- keep equipment in good condition
- effectively dispose of waste
- ensure staff are acting in a hygienic way and wearing appropriate clothing
- ensure the temperature that food is stored at is appropriate
Food standards might be specific to the food industry, but keep in mind that almost every industry in the world requires some level of compliance with official regulations/legislation or simply with best practices. If you can demonstrate your ability to adhere to one set of standards, you can use it as evidence that you can learn other standards and know the importance of following rules.
That’s something a lot of employers appreciate immensely.
2. Food knowledge and preparation skills
They say that food is the way to the heart, but that’s only one reason to develop great skills in the kitchen.
Working as a kitchen assistant will build your confidence with kitchen equipment and food items at rocket speed. You will learn to be a (safe) ninja with a chef’s knife and a connoisseur of every vegetable that grows under the sun — if your workplace makes food from scratch, that is.
The kitchen assistant role is designed to support the chef, who will handle the more complex aspects of cooking, including planning the menu and designing the dishes. But even as a kitchen assistant, you will have plenty of opportunity to observe the creation of food from all angles.
Creating food that you can be proud of, that customers love, is something that kitchen staff find extremely rewarding. Learning about food and how to make meals might be the way to somebody’s heart, but might also create love in another way: by leading you to a career you never want to leave.