Kitchen managers perform many duties including motivating chefs, preparing schedules, ordering supplies, supervising quality and handling errors and accidents that occur during service. Managers might be required to cook occasionally depending on the restaurant, but kitchen manager jobs are usually non-cooking kitchen positions.
Pros and Cons of Kitchen Management
Kitchen managers can usually work their way up to the position by demonstrating good organizational skills and an even temperament, but upscale restaurants and resorts prefer candidates with culinary or business backgrounds. Also called food service managers, kitchen managers work in various settings, and long hours that run 15 hours a day are not uncommon. The stressful work environment requires dealing with temperamental cooks, wait staff and FOH managers. Other drawbacks to managing a kitchen include:
- Working on weekends
- Planning menus at home so that you have time to supervise early morning food prep at work
- Substituting for missing employees or needing to find substitutes
- Taking a behind-the-scenes role that is seldom acknowledged by guests or media
Advantages of the position include a relatively high income and the ability to work in restaurants, hotels, resorts, cruise ships, catering companies, hospitals, schools and other establishments.
- Many kitchen managers start their own businesses in food service.
- Kitchen managers often hire and promote workers in the kitchen hierarchy.
- Organizing a large kitchen operation provides tremendous job satisfaction when things work properly.
Skills Required for Managing a Large Kitchen
Kitchen managers come from various culinary backgrounds including cooking on the line, waiting tables or working at other jobs in the hospitality industry. Kitchen managers often work long hours in high-pressure situations, and they need diplomatic skills to defuse tense situations.
- Speaking Spanish or another second language is often an advantage because kitchen staffs increasingly include people who speak limited English.
- Getting a culinary or business education will improve your chances for landing this kind of job.
- Computer skills have become increasingly important because most restaurants use POS systems to keep track of inventory, ordering and scheduling.
- Having a passion for food and culinary skills will help because kitchen managers often determine which items get placed on menus.
- Managers often need to troubleshoot the dish-washing machine or other equipment.
- You will also schedule repairs and maintenance of commercial kitchen equipment.
Kitchen Manager Duties
Kitchen managers organize work flow and decide which tasks need to be done on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. Kitchen staffs notoriously ignore certain cleaning and maintenance routines when they can get away with it, and managers ensure that each job gets completed according to schedule. Other duties include:
- Planning menus
- Motivating staff during demanding service periods
- Managing stock and helping to ensure that stations stay stocked during service
- Ordering food and supplies from vendors
- Managing schedules, vacations, requests for time off and station rotations of line cooks
- Keeping accurate records
- Recruiting, training and educating staff
- Ensuring food is the right quality for the price
Culinary Certifications Help to Strengthen Your Résumé
Getting culinary and food safety certifications can boost your efforts to find a lucrative kitchen manager job. ServSafe certification is offered in most cities, and hiring managers will be suitably impressed by candidates who have this qualification on their résumés. Other valuable certifications include:
Salary Outlook for Kitchen Managers
According the Bureau of Labor Statistics, kitchen manager salaries range from $36,000 to $60,000 per year depending on location and experience. Salary.com estimates that salaries average about $40,000 to $45,000 annually. Kitchen managers in top tourist destinations, resorts and casinos could earn higher salaries. Front-of-the-house entrepreneurs often partner with kitchen managers to open restaurants and food service businesses. The skilled kitchen manager becomes an invaluable asset in the kitchen while the FOH partner entertains the customers and manages servers in these types of partnerships.
Hospitality Success Could Result in Celebrity Status
Influential professionals in kitchen management include Dr. Katie Wilson, who is president of the School Nutrition Association, and Mary Angela Miller, president of the National Society for Healthcare Foodservice Management. Many kitchen managers operate in the background where they keep things run properly. Although these professionals seldom achieve fame as kitchen managers, the restaurant staff and owner appreciate their efforts, and former kitchen managers often choose to start restaurants or culinary businesses.
People who want to work as kitchen managers can advance their prospects by developing good communications and organizational skills, learning how to motivate people to do their best work and learning culinary techniques and computer management skills. Kitchen managers often start their own restaurants after developing the skills to keep professional kitchens running efficiently.