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Food Service Career Overview

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Food Service and Restaurant Management Career Descriptions

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While the reputation of a fine restaurant may rely on the head chef, the food service manager is often responsible for many of the behind the scenes activities that keep the establishment going. Food service managers have responsibilities ranging from ordering food and supplies, selecting menu items and determining their prices, and ensuring the high quality of food preparation and service. They are frequently responsible for administrative tasks, including human resources.

Menu Preparation and Ordering Supplies

A major part of the food service manager's job is selecting each day's menu items. In some restaurants, this responsibility may be shared with the executive chef. Factors influencing menu selection include the past popularity of the item, the availability of ingredients, the number of customers likely to order the item, and creating a variety among the menu offerings. After selecting a menu item, the manager must determine the food and labor cost of producing and serving it, then establish the price the customer will pay.

After determining the menu, the manager is responsible for estimating the number of customers for a given day, and ordering the food necessary to prepare the meals for them. In addition to food, the manager must plan for and order needed supplies, including table and glassware, cleaning supplies, kitchen tools and supplies, and other items. The manager also coordinates outside services, including trash removal, pest control, and maintenance and repairs needed. Managers frequently meet with sales and service representatives of suppliers to learn about new offerings, and to check the quality of items received, particularly fresh food.

Overseeing the Kitchen and Employees

The food service manager has the responsibility for overseeing the activities in the kitchen and dining room. He or she supervises the preparation and cooking of meals, from the quality of the food to its presentation on the plate. The manager resolves any complaints or questions in the dining room about the food or service. He or she is also responsible for meeting government regulations for cleanliness, health and safety. This involves supervising washing and cleaning procedures in the kitchen and dining room.

The manager must ensure that there are enough employees available to meet demand, both in the kitchen and in the dining room. In addition to scheduling shifts, the manager must also interview and hire new employees. This can involve attending career fairs, placing help-wanted ads, and using other techniques to attract workers, particularly in tight labor markets. Once a new employee is hired, the manager is responsible for training him or her, and providing an orientation to policies and procedures.

General Administrative Tasks

In addition to tasks involving the preparation and serving of food, the manager is responsible for a variety of administrative tasks. These include managing payroll and complying with government labor regulations, as well as keeping track of inventory and sales figures. The manager must also track purchases, receipts, and accounts payable, and make sure suppliers are paid on time.

Computer use has simplified the restaurant manager's job. Point Of Sale terminals track customer orders through the kitchen and serving areas, and then act as the cash register. Inventory tracking and employee management software are also used. Managers also use the Internet as a method of finding recipes, discovering new or improved methods for running the restaurant, and purchasing supplies and equipment.

In smaller cafes, fast-food restaurants and diners, the manager may have the entire operational responsibility. In larger restaurants, he is likely to be helped by a variety of assistants. There may be a general manager, overseeing the entire operation, along with a number of assistant managers responsible for specific areas, such as the kitchen or dining room. An executive chef may have responsibility for the kitchen and food preparation. A bookkeeper or accountant may be responsible for tallying and depositing receipts, keeping track of payroll, and accounts payable.

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