5 Skills You Need To Work As A Kitchen Assistant/Kitchen Porter
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.
3. Working quickly and multitasking
To excel as a kitchen assistant, you need to calmly and quickly get on with the work, no matter the flood of new orders. Done well, it can feel like you’re part of a well-oiled machine. But any hold up can cause the machine to spit and sputter. That sort of thing is bound to happen in your first few months…
But before long, something magical happens, and you will be reaching for utensils and foodstuffs without even thinking. You will be moving between stations on instinct and without needing to be asked. You’ll reach a flow state where time passes quickly and despite the appearance of chaos on the outside, your kitchen is producing dish after dish without fuss.
We’ve heard people who have left the food industry say they miss the rush of having to work at this sort of pace. It won’t be for everyone, but when you get good at it you develop a mindset that will transfer over to a whole host of industries. Your future employers will love your initiative and efficiency.
Prospects For a Kitchen Assistant
With good food skills, you can branch off in a huge number of directions. It’s not just restaurants. It also opens the door to food manufacturing.
Food and drink services are the largest manufacturing industry in the UK. According to the FDF (Food and Drink Federation) the industry had a turnover of £101bn in 2021, and it is still growing. IBISWorld tells us that there are over half a million employees working in just full-service restaurants in the UK, making it one of the UK’s top 10 sectors for employment.
In other words, the food industry is huge.
And it’s not like all of these jobs are filled. The ONS (Office for National Statistics), which lumps together all food and accommodation related jobs, estimates that there were 2,423,000 such vacancies in December 2021.
Food service skills are in demand. Anyone that can master the dance of a food preparation line, and do so in compliance with the most recent food standards regulations, is setting themselves up for success in any number of roles. Starting as a kitchen assistant gives you baskets of options for the future.
You start as a kitchen assistant, but before long you could work your way up to a head chef, manager at an admired restaurant, or an owner of a food manufacturing business.
Are You Looking for Kitchen Work Near You?
The service industry is full of good jobs, but sorting through the pile to find the best possible job for you can be a hassle. Stumbling into a job you aren’t fully happy with is a big risk, and one we all want to avoid if possible.
At Placed, we are dedicated to finding quality vacancies from reliable, established food industry employers. Make your profile, set your preferences, and get automatically matched for jobs. Easy! Try it now.
Read Next: https://placed-app.com/unsure-what-pathway-to-take-after-school/
Interested in hospitality but not sure you want to work in a kitchen? Try reading about the Five Transferable Skills Every Bartender Has.
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