Career paths in the catering industry

Do you have a passion for food and drink? A career in the catering industry may be just what you are looking for. Catering and hospitality is all about providing people with food and drink, whether it is at a café, restaurant, bar, event or in-house at an organisation. There are a variety of jobs at different levels in this sector, some of which we will go on to discuss in this article.

Could this be you in your new career in the catering industry ?

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Food Service Manager

It doesn’t matter whether you work at a restaurant, bar, café or for a contract caterer, the company will not be able to operate without a good business foundation. It is the job of a food service manager or catering manager to hire the right people, purchase the right inventory and handle all aspects of running a catering business. They are responsible for overseeing the business aspects of running a catering company and ensuring that an exquisite eating experience is delivered.

Many employers require food service managers to have a relevant degree or an equivalent qualification. Often food service managers get their jobs by working their way up the job ladder at a food business. Some larger companies provide hardworking and capable staff with training courses to help them advance in their catering careers.

Chef or Cook

Chefs and cooks can work in a wide range of kitchen environments, from restaurants to cafes, schools, businesses and bars. As a chef or cook you will be responsible for preparing food for low to high volumes of diners (depending on the organisation you are working for). Chefs tend to start at the bottom of the job ladder as Commis Chefs (apprentice chefs) and can work their way up as they gain more and more experience. At the top of this career ladder is the Head Chef or Executive Chef role. Head Chefs have a wide range of responsibilities including designing menus, preparing food, training staff, conducting quality control and managing kitchen staff.

You may or may not need academic qualifications in order to become a chef. It will all depend on the requirements of the employer you want to work for. Most employers will require you to have a standard level of education, a good work ethic and most importantly a passion for food. Many chefs start their careers by doing an apprenticeship, which involves on-the-job training and the completion of NVQs in relevant catering subjects.


a career chef hard at work

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Pastry Chef

Chefs that possess specialist, niche skills often go on to become pastry chefs. Pastry chefs are employed in a wide range of settings (bakeries, hotels, restaurants, events kitchens) and are formally trained in the art of pastry making. In order to become a pastry chef you need to possess a sound knowledge of the history and preparation of classic desserts and high levels of creative ability.

Although pastry chefs do not require any formal education, a relevant degree from a university or culinary school is helpful when trying to secure a job. The alternative route is to undergo internships or an apprenticeship with an established pastry chef.

Own your own catering business

No matter what area of catering you start off in, there is always the prospect of you opening your own catering business. Whether you start off as a chef or go down the food service management route, owning your own catering business is a great way of achieving job satisfaction. Whereas some aspire to own their own restaurants others prefer to go down the route of contract catering for corporate events, weddings, banquets and the alike.

Aside from the capital to get setup, in order to start your own catering business you will need sound knowledge and vast experience of the industry. Most catering business owners start off by working at other catering companies to build up their knowledge, skills and experience and find out what they are good at.

Something that will greatly improve your chances of success is good contacts in the industry. Whilst you may possess great cooking and management skills, you are not going to be able to do everything yourself. Every chef, restaurant manager, supplier and waiter you come across is a potential contact that could help your business to get off the ground.

Alternative catering career paths

If you want to work in the catering industry, but do not want to be a chef, manager or assistant, there are plenty of alternative paths you can go down. For example, many people have careers writing about food and drink. You could become a recipe book editor, food and drink magazine writer or even a restaurant critic or blogger. The opportunities are endless!

Those who have a passion for a particular type of food could go on to open their own shop (online or brick and mortar) selling specialty foods from around the world. Carving out a niche for yourself is a great way to secure a job that you love and enjoy.


Whatever your skills and experience, there is a job for you in the catering industry. Providing you have a passion for food and the ability to deliver an excellent service, there is a whole host of career paths you could take from chefing to catering management. For more information about the catering industry or for help finding the perfect job for you, feel free to get in touch with the team here at First Course Recruitment.

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