Managing a Commercial Kitchen: What Do I Need to Know?

Managing a Commercial Kitchen: What Do I Need to Know?

In the restaurant world, chefs tend to get all the credit. After all, they're the people with their names on the restaurants, the stories in the newspapers and the shows on TV.

It's pretty easy to see why they get all the accolades when a restaurant does well. But behind every successful chef there is a food service manager, who are every bit as important.

If the chef is the quarterback, the food service manager is the head coach. They're the people who oversee hiring, training, ordering, budgeting and ensuring that the food coming out of the kitchen is high-quality and safe. Best of all, they're in high demand.

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Restaurant industry food and drink sales have increased every year since 2005, according to Statista. The United States Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics, states employment opportunities for food service managers is expected to grow by 9 percent by 2026.

It's a nearly $800 billion industry, and it needs highly qualified people to work behind the scenes to keep it cooking. Here's a look at why food service managers are so important to commercial kitchens, what training and experience they need, and how you can break into the industry.

It's always about the bottom line

There's a misunderstanding among the dining public that success in the restaurant business is all about the food: It's really all about the bottom line.

Food is the product that people pay for. But without a well-run organization, even the best-tasting hamburger in the world won't make a restaurant successful.

The food service manager is the person who procures the product; keeps costs down; makes sure the equipment is working properly; ensure that food safety regulations are adhered to; and hires and schedules the people who take the orders, cook the food, and clean up afterwards. Then they help balance the books to keep the restaurant profitable.

All of these responsibilities affect the restaurant's bottom line. Commercial kitchens exist to create robust bottom lines.

It takes experience, skill, and knowledge

Food service managers have a lot on their plates. In the kitchen, they have a hand in everything from food procurement to portion sizes to preparation. They make sure equipment is ordered, maintained, and repaired. They interview, hire, schedule, and supervise everyone from the line cooks to the wait staff. They also handle the paperwork related to government regulations, accounting, and marketing.

It's a job that requires you to know a lot about a lot. That's why real-world experience working in many areas of a commercial kitchen is so important. Until you've dropped the fries into a deep fryer, you really don't know with precision which deep fryer works best.

Until you've honed your ability to communicate with an array of people--chefs, cooks, wait staff, vendors, and customers--you might not know the industry jargon that allows you to really understand what's going on in the organization and industry.

Until you have the knowledge of accounting, management, cost controls, facility management, government regulations, and leadership, you won't be ready to take on the job. It goes without saying, it's a big job.

There are two pathways to the profession

In the past, many aspiring food service managers worked their way through the ranks. They would start their careers by working on the line, waiting on customers, or bussing tables. They'd learn each job, get promoted, and repeat the process. Eventually they'd have enough experience, skill, and knowledge to take over day-to-day operations of the organization.

That still happens, today. However, commercial kitchens are increasingly interested in hiring people who have studied food service management in college, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

In fact, many of the largest restaurant chains, hotels, and food service companies actively recruit college students because they know that the students:

  • have formal education in the areas of finance and accounting
  • have studied and developed business, specifically in the areas of management and leadership
  • have been exposed to the art and science of food service marketing, social media, and customer service
  • have the drive and commitment it takes to set a goal and work hard to achieve it

You don't necessarily have to earn a degree in food service management, but it certainly can give you an edge over the competition and make your path to the profession shorter.

Is Food Service Management in your future?

There's a lot to love about a career as a food service manager. You get to work in a growing and exciting industry. You'll get to use your experience, skill, and knowledge in a variety of ways. And you'll get to work with creative professional chefs (and even share all the glory of running a successful commercial kitchen).

Managing a Commercial Kitchen: What Do I Need to Know?

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Are you interested in FSM? If you want to earn a Bachelor of Science Degree in Food Service Management, consider ECPI University's Culinary Institute of Virginia. For more information about this exciting opportunity, connect with a friendly admissions representative today.

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