Catering manager

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Susan Shaw is a Catering manager and works for LSG Sky Chefs, providing in-flight meals for airline passengers. Most airlines now use specialist caterers to supply all their meals. These are usually situated near major airports.

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What is your job?

I am a production team leader, responsible for the daily shifts in the kitchen areas. I check that company procedures and practices are followed to achieve customer satisfaction, and generally assist my shift manager.

What does this involve?

Ensuring that the work being carried out is to a high standard and to the specification of the particular airline. This involves weight and temperature checks in order to comply with strict hygiene regulations. Other duties include completion of health and safety documentation, assisting in the management of daily rosters, absence and discipline, recruitment and staff training, deputising for the shift manager and covering duties in departments when short of staff.

What equipment do you use?

I use normal kitchen equipment such as ovens and refrigerators. We also use kitchen knives, temperature probes, mixing machines, computers, and specification books detailing the meals to be provided for each flight.

Do you have a typical day?

Not really as no two days are the same, which makes the job challenging and interesting. The production team is involved in catering for special flights that come in and out of Manchester airport – for example, flights for the Manchester United football team on its European trips. The kitchens are also responsible for producing the food for presentations to potential airline customers. On one occasion, I had to create Caribbean food for a new customer – it was both enjoyable and challenging.

How did you get become a Catering manager?

I took a job in hospital catering, eventually becoming a qualified chef. I joined my present company in a seasonal position as a chef, before being promoted to my present job on a permanent basis.

What training have you received for this?

I had general catering and food hygiene training at college and at work I receive, continuous health and safety and management training. A lot of my knowledge has come from working with my colleagues on a daily basis.

What hours do you work?

I work shifts between 6am and 8pm, five days a week. The shifts are flexible depending on the business requirements and include working weekends on a rota system.

What do you like best about your job?

The people I work with and knowing that I have done my best with the challenges faced throughout the day.

What skills and qualities are needed to be a Catering manager?

You need food hygiene skills and a willingness to continue learning. You should also have good people and good communication skills.

Susan's route to her career as a Catering manager

  • City and Guilds 705 General Catering.
  • City and Guilds 706/2 Alcoholic Beverages, Food Handling, Food Service.
  • Food Hygiene Diploma.
  • NEBSS Supervisor/Management course.

Susan's Catering manager tips

  • Be willing to expect and accept challenges.
  • Work experience placements can be very helpful.

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Catering manager salary

  • Salary scales start at around £12,000. With experience this figure rises to between £15000 and £20,000.
  • Overtime work is often available and shift allowances mean these figures can be greatly increased.

Becoming a Catering manager

  • Taking food and hygiene subjects at school are a good way to start. These can lead to college courses in catering subjects.
  • Modern Apprenticeships (Skillseekers in Scotland) are available (leading to NVQ/SVQ Levels 1 and 2) – courses last around two years and include NVQ/SVQ Level 2 in Food and Drink Manufacturing Operations, Basic Hygiene Certificate, Basic Health and Safety Certificate and Key Skills qualification.
  • Advanced Modern Apprenticeships are also available leading to at least an NVQ/SVQ Level 3 – entry requirements are GCSE/S grades in maths, English and science or technology, or a GNVQ/GSVQ in science, or equivalent qualifications.

Modified: 16 June 2013

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