Paul Turner works for Somerset County Services – who provide cleaning and catering services to Somerset County Council. Paul works as a general kitchen assistant in the staff restaurant, which seats more than 100 customers.
What does your job involve?
I have several duties. I serve customers in the restaurant as well as take my turn in the kitchen where I clean the ovens, dishes and eating utensils. In addition, I run the trolley service each morning.
There are three office blocks at County Hall and three of us take a trolley to each block twice a day.We sell items like sandwiches, rolls, scones and hot and cold drinks to all the staff.
Do you have to handle cash as part of your job?
Yes, both in the restaurant, where we use a till, and for trolley service where we use money boxes. You need some maths skills to be able to take money and give the right change. My mental arithmetic skills have really improved since I've been doing this job!
What sort of training have you had?
It's been mostly on the job. Initially, I had to learn how to use kitchen equipment, although most of it is fairly straightforward. We have a very large dishwasher that also has a waste disposal function for food so it makes clearing up very quick. I trained for my foundation certificate in food hygiene.
Customers are much more aware of food and health issues now so it's important that food is prepared in a clean and safe environment. I was taught about personal hygiene, how to store food safely, food contamination and food poisoning.
Why did you choose this type of work?
I had some experience of kitchen work before and I really enjoy it. I saw the job advertised in the newspaper and I though it would be a good opportunity. The atmosphere is good because everyone works hard but enjoys it at the same time. It's a really friendly working environment.
Do you work regular hours?
I work Monday to Friday from 9am to 3.30pm.
What skills does a kitchen assistant need?
I spend all day working with a small team of people so it is important to get on with others, as well as being able to work without supervision. A cheerful personality helps because of the amount of time spent with customers. A positive and helpful attitude is essential to do a variety of routine and menial jobs as well as the more creative ones.
Do you see yourself staying in the catering trade?
Yes. I have worked in this business since I was 17. My goal is to become a chef, and I am waiting for an opportunity to start training. My work as a kitchen assistant has really given me a good foundation for my next step.
Paul's route to becoming a Kitchen assistant
- Restaurant work in Somerset and London.
- On-the-job training.
- Foundation certificate in Food Hygiene.
Paul's Kitchen assistant tips
- Ask about training opportunities that help you go further in your career.
- Never give up and work hard for what you want.
Kitchen assistant related jobs
- Counter service assistant
- Hotel receptionist
- School lunchtime supervisor
Kitchen assistant salary information
- Starting salary for a general kitchen assistant is about £10,000, rising to around £12,000 with experience.
- Uniform may be provided and some establishments, such as hotels, may offer accommodation.
- In some cases, jobs may be offered on a part-time basis with payment on an hourly basis.
Becoming a Kitchen assistant
- Academic qualifications are not as important as enthusiasm and commitment to the job. However, it can be helpful to have some previous kitchen experience or training.
- Kitchen assistants are usually trained on the job. Particular attention is paid to handling potentially dangerous equipment.
- There are NVQs/SVQs available in a number of catering and hospitality subjects, including Preparing and Serving Food (Levels 1 and 2).
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