The cleanliness of the kitchen, dining area and dishes can boost or erode restaurant or cafeteria’s reputation. The following describes how kitchen helpers assist in a sanitary and satisfying dining experience for customers in restaurants and cafeterias. These workers accomplish their tasks of supporting the kitchen in a crowded, fast-paced, time-pressed and warm work environment.
What Does a Kitchen Helper Do?
Kitchen helpers support the cooks and chefs in the restaurant by keeping the area safe, sanitized and clean. In some instances, these assistants may prepare dishes to be cooked and the dining area for guests. The work requires concentration and the ability to follow directions from cooks, managers and health and safety regulations.
Kitchen Helper Job Responsibilities – Resume
- Scrap food and remove trash from plates and bowls
- Empty contents of glasses and cups
- Wash dishes using hand or dishwasher
- Sweep dining, kitchen and food preparation areas
- Clean and polish utensils
- Perform simple food preparation, such as scrubbing and peeling potatoes or vegetables, cutting meats
- Stock refrigerators, cupboards and shelves with food, ingredients and other supplies
- Remove out-of-date food and ingredients
- Load or unload delivery vehicles
- Place clean dishes on dining tables
- Serve dishes to diners as necessary
Kitchen Helper Essential Skills
Detail-Oriented. Kitchen helpers must pay attention to ensuring that dishes are completely clean before being used by other diners. Restaurants may have particular standards for place settings, such as positioning of utensils, beverage glasses and napkins.
Dexterity. The kitchen helper job description includes tasks, such as peeling, cutting or scrubbing, that require care and coordination in handling knives, peelers and other small kitchen utensils. Body coordination is also necessary to handle brooms, mops and other cleaning equipment and wash dishes by hand.
Organization. Skills in organization include the ability to group foods and ingredients by type and date. Kitchen helpers need to arrange stock so that it is easily accessible to cooks and others in the kitchen.
Physical. Kitchen helpers spend significant amounts of time on their feet and moving. Their work involves carrying, lifting, reaching and stooping. Some boxes or equipment may weigh more than 20 pounds.
Becoming a Kitchen Helper
Many kitchen helper positions serve as entry-level jobs for those starting in the workforce or restaurant industry. Seekers of these jobs generally must demonstrate physical ability to perform many of the manual tasks and dependability to keep the kitchen and restaurant running efficiently and safely.
Education and Training
Normally, a high school diploma will suffice to meet the education prerequisites as a kitchen helper.
Some community colleges afford certificate and other programs for kitchen helpers. Covered topics include sanitation, food preparation, types of food utensils and equipment and general restaurant operations. Students also learn the differences in the nature, storage and preparation of hot foods and cold foods.
Otherwise, training of kitchen helpers usually comes via the employer. The trainers, who might be a manager, supervisor or a senior kitchen worker, orient the helpers to the kitchen layout, standards for the restaurant and the essential duties of the helper role. New hires will likely receive instruction on safe food handling, wearing hair nets and gloves and workplace safety regulations.
Kitchen helper jobs require little prior experience and often afford entry-level opportunities for new workers. Certain employers, such as those in upper-scale restaurants, might prefer applicants with experience in food preparation or operations of such places.
Prior experience for kitchen helpers can come from prior restaurant or kitchen work. Some kitchen helpers may have worked previously in restaurants as servers, kitchen assistants, food preparation workers or as dishwashers. Those with a history of working in institutional cafeterias, such as hospitals or schools, can also attract employers.
The operating hours of restaurants determines the shifts for kitchen helpers. Overall, kitchen helpers should expect afternoon, evening and weekend shifts. Some restaurants also serve customers during holidays. Where restaurants serve only breakfast and lunch, shifts may begin in the predawn hours and end by early afternoon.
Even where restaurants, especially chain establishments, open in the late morning, kitchen helpers must assist in food preparation, cleaning, setting tables and other tasks before customers arrive. This results in helpers reporting in the morning.
Institutional kitchens tend to operate during weekday hours. In schools, kitchen helpers will have morning through early afternoons, tracking the normal school days. Work schedules don’t include weekends or summer vacations, unless the particular school operates on a year-round basis. Generally, kitchen helpers in school cafeterias will have nine or ten months of work a year.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics states that roughly half of food preparation workers report on a part-time basis as of 2014.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of “Food Preparation Workers,” who perform some of the tasks of kitchen helpers, should rise by six percent through 2024. This represents 54,800 additional jobs in the field by that time. In 2014, the United States had 873,000 food preparation workers.
The overall health of the restaurant industry indicates potential growth in restaurants seeking kitchen helpers. According to the National Restaurant Association, restaurants will create 1.6 million new jobs by 2027. The United States has over a million restaurants. These new jobs and establishments will likely need kitchen helpers to support cooks, chefs and others in the restaurant. Areas of increased residential and commercial development should translate into more restaurants and available kitchen helper jobs.
However, as the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics suggests, applicants should anticipate strong competition as the number of seekers for kitchen helper jobs exceeds the number of available positions. Many workers pursue kitchen worker jobs to get their initial experience in the work force and supplement their income or support time in school.
Kitchen helper positions can spring into roles as cooks, managers and owners. The National Restaurant Association reports that ninety percent of restaurant mangers and eighty percent of restaurant owners held entry-level jobs in the restaurant association.
Kitchen helpers promote the safe and sanitary condition of the spaces in which cooks create dishes for guests’ dining pleasure. In a typical shift, these helpers may have roles of dishwasher, place setter and initial food preparation.
Those who hold these jobs seek initial work experience and a way to earn income. For many kitchen helpers, the experience can lead to careers in the restaurant industry as chefs, managers or entrepreneurs.