Catering managers lead teams of chefs and catering assistants. They are responsible for running the day-to-day catering operations and services in restaurants, hotels and resorts. Catering managers are responsible for monitoring the quality of the food and service and for making sure that their outlets perform well. The most important part of the job is achieving good quality within a budget and maintaining high standards of hygiene and customer satisfaction. Typical activities include:
- planning menus in consultation with chefs
- ordering supplies
- hiring, training, supervising and motivating permanent and temporary staff
- organising staff rotas
- ensuring that health and safety regulations are strictly observed, recorded and archived
- monitoring the quality of the product and service provided
- keeping to budgets and maintaining financial and administrative records.
Travel is not normally part of the working day of a catering manager, apart from those working in location catering such as the media industry or event catering (eg conferences, weddings and sports events). There are opportunities to work abroad, including on cruise liners.
Shift work and unsocial long hours are most common in hotels, restaurants and resorts. Catering service operations within business, industry and institutions are more likely to work normal office hours.
Promotion prospects are generally good for those with strong interpersonal skills and a high level of motivation, although much will depend on the individual and the organisation. There are opportunities for self-employment: catering managers can work toward managing their own restaurant.
- Catering firms
- In-house catering operations including those in large corporate settings such as business and factory canteens
- Nursing homes
- Colleges and schools
- Tourist attractions
- Offshore oil/gas rigs etc
- Transport providers including airlines and cruise liners
You can find jobs on the website of The Caterer and on jobs boards such as Caterer.com, as well as on the websites of leading restaurant chains, hotel groups and catering companies.
Some of the major hotel chains and larger contract companies run graduate schemes, which are only open to those with a degree. However, generally speaking, a degree is not a standard requirement for this role.
While open to applications from graduates from all disciplines, employers value relevant qualifications such as:
- catering/culinary management
- hospitality management
- food science and technology
- hotel and restaurant management
- hospitality, leisure and tourism
- international hospitality management
- business/management studies
- home economics/nutrition.
Training covers both the practical and business aspects of the job. Previous relevant work experience is often a requirement. Aspiring catering managers should look for part-time or seasonal work in catering outlets such as pubs, restaurants and fast-food outlets at weekends and during holidays. A smart personal appearance is essential.
School leavers may be able to train on the job through an apprenticeship or by taking vocational qualifications such as NVQs or SVQs. There are also diploma qualifications in hospitality management available at level 4 (broadly equivalent to the first year of a degree) and level 5 (which takes you to the same level as students about to begin the final year of a degree).
- Excellent communication and interpersonal skills
- Strong organisational and time management skills
- Decision making skills
- Ability to manage in a diverse environment with a focus on client and customer services
- Good business and commercial acumen
- Strong leadership and motivating skills including the ability to build strong relationships with customers and staff
- The ability to think quickly, work in stressful circumstances and stay calm in a crisis
- Financial, budgeting and stock-taking skills
- Knowledge of food, food hygiene (including hazard analysis and critical control points) and food preparation