How to become a Baker. Read through our comprehensive job guide to learn more about this career.
What does a Kitchen Assistant do?
As a kitchen assistant, you would be responsible for cleaning the kitchen, carrying out basic food preparation tasks, and making sure chefs have everything they need. You would follow strict hygiene, health and safety rules, and your duties would include:
- unloading deliveries from suppliers
- organising the storeroom
- washing kitchen appliances, work surfaces, floors and walls.
Kitchens are often divided into sections, for example, vegetables would be prepared in one area, meat and fish in other sections. As an assistant, you will often take responsibility for supporting the chef in a specific work area.
You would also help chefs get ready for service. This could involve preparing food items so they are peeled, trimmed and washed, ready to be cooked when ordered. You would use a variety of kitchen equipment such as automatic mixers, chipping machines and specially designed knives and cutters.
Your hours of work can vary, but will usually include shifts, evenings, weekends and public holidays. If you are based in a factory or business, your hours are likely to be more regular than in a restaurant. Part-time, casual or seasonal work may be available.
Your working environment will often be hot, busy and noisy. You may find this work unsuitable if you suffer from certain skin conditions.
For hygiene reasons, you will usually be provided with a uniform by your employer.
How much does a Kitchen Assistant earn?
Salary and pay information:
- Starting salaries can be around £12,700 to £14,500 a year.
- With experience, this could rise to around £17,000.
Figures are intended as a guideline only.
You will not usually need any particular qualifications to work as a kitchen assistant, but a good general secondary education would be useful. You could prepare for this work by taking a qualification such as a BTEC National Certificate or Diploma in Hospitality.
It will be an advantage to have previous experience of working in a kitchen, or in hospitality or catering.
An alternative route into catering is through an Apprenticeship scheme. The range of Apprenticeships available in your area will depend on the local jobs market and the types of skills employers need from their workers. To find out more about Apprenticeships, visit the Apprenticeships website.
By law, people under 18 are not allowed to handle some equipment (such as meat slicers) so your role in the kitchen may be restricted until you reach this age.
Training and Development
You will usually receive on-the-job training from an experienced member of staff. This may be combined with attending college to learn about food hygiene, health and safety, and food preparation techniques.
You may also be able to work towards qualifications such as NVQ Level 1 in Hospitality (Food Preparation and Cooking) and Level 2 in Food Processing and Cooking, or Professional Cookery, which may help you progress in your career.
Skills and Knowledge
- stamina and enthusiasm
- a flexible approach to work
- the ability to carry out set tasks quickly and efficiently
- a keen interest in food
- the ability to follow instructions
- good spoken communication skills
- the ability to use your initiative and work in a team.
You could find work in kitchens throughout the country in restaurants, hotels, care homes, schools, colleges and universities. There are usually plenty of vacancies for this type of work.
With experience, skills, further training and NVQ Level 2, you may be able to work towards becoming a trainee or commis chef.
You could also progress into management or move sideways into bar work or food service.