So, you’re thinking about a career in foodservice…
As a seasoned operator with over 40 years of experience in the foodservice industry, I want to share with you the incredible opportunities that are available to you in this fast-paced and fulfilling profession.
First off, congratulations on taking your first steps into the working world! You’re about to embark on a journey with limitless possibilities. Not every shift will go your way, but I promise you that a career in the food and beverage industry will open new doors, introduce you to incredible people, and can set you up for life.
“It’s a Lifestyle”
Anyone who’s dedicated their life to hospitality and foodservice will tell you it’s not just a job; it's a lifestyle. What starts for many as just a place to work ends up turning into a journey that offers countless possibilities for growth and personal development. And wherever you want to start is completely up to you, as a lot of positions are available to those with little to no experience.
Whether you start as a dishwasher, line cook, server, host, or any other position, you'll find that this industry is ripe with opportunities to rise through the ranks and explore various job roles to discover where your true passions lie.
From the heightened energy of the kitchen to meaningful interactions with guests, there's something incredibly satisfying about feeding people. I can tell you firsthand that the joy of seeing someone relish a dish you've prepared is unparalleled. It's more than just nourishing their bodies; it's about creating memories and bringing people together through food.
“Exploring Your Passions”
In foodservice, you'll encounter a diverse range of cuisines, people, and techniques, and by finding and working with seasoned operators, you’ll be able to expand your knowledge and skills constantly.
Discover your true passions by exploring the vast differences of baking, grilling, sautéing, or creating beautiful desserts. One of the best parts of the industry is that there's a niche for every talent and interest, and professionals are always working to create better food, better experiences for guests, a greater reputation for their restaurant.
When I was in college, I really had no idea what I wanted to do. As others were declaring their majors and choosing their life path, I didn’t have a clue how I wanted my career to pan out. I looked at life as an adventure and I just figured the answers would come to me naturally.
When it came down to it, I needed money. So, I took a job as a pot washer. I know it doesn’t sound like the most prestigious gig in the world, but what it did was expose me to the intensity and energy of the kitchen environment, and it got me really excited.
From there, the experience just absolutely blossomed. I was taught how to properly handle a knife and began assisting with prep. As I learned more skills, I realized the college I had been attending was no longer the place I wanted to be. I wanted to pursue food full time, so I quit school and enrolled in a culinary school. From there I went on to serve as a Chef Instructor at Johnson and Wales University, and a number of other roles within the hospitality industry.
That’s the beauty of foodservice: finding your passion and working your way towards it. Don't be afraid to experiment and explore various roles until you discover what truly excites you. You could become an expert pastry chef, a creative menu developer, a skilled sommelier, or even an enterprising restaurant owner – the possibilities are endless.
Where Do I Begin?
At this point, you might be wondering how to kickstart your foodservice career. Entering the workforce in foodservice requires a blend of essential qualities. First and foremost, individuals should possess strong communication skills, adaptability, and a positive attitude. I’ll emphasize the positive attitude, because although it’s rewarding, working in a foodservice operation comes with lots of stress. Foodservice demands effective interaction with colleagues and customers, the ability to handle dynamic environments, and a cheerful demeanor even under pressure.
Got all that? Great! So, how do you land a job? When applying to foodservice establishments, candidates should prioritize a few key factors. A keen attention to hygiene and safety protocols is crucial, and demonstrating an eagerness to learn and a willingness to take on various roles within the organization can make an applicant more appealing, as versatility is often appreciated in the fast-paced food industry. Being a team player is also paramount. Reliability is equally important; punctuality and consistent attendance are vital in a field where shifts need to be adequately staffed for smooth operations.
When looking for a place to work, seek out those with positive reputations for employee treatment and growth opportunities. The whole foodservice industry will need to fill about 2.6 million vacant positions every year through 2032, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, so there won’t be any shortage of openings for you to take advantage of. During interviews, ask about potential training programs, chances for advancement, and the organization’s commitment to fostering a supportive work environment. Additionally, keep your eyes peeled for more than just restaurants. Foodservice work can be found in hotels, senior living communities, schools and universities, hospitals, and beyond. You never know who you might end up serving!
Keep Sharpening Your Skills
One of the most important things I want to stress to you is to keep growing. Never tell your manager, “That’s not my job.” Instead, take the opportunity to learn aspects of each position, making yourself a universal worker that becomes incredibly valuable to your establishment (and then reap the benefits). Besides, you never know what you might end up enjoying!
As you embark on this exciting journey, I urge you to embrace the challenges and celebrate the triumphs. The foodservice industry is not without its demands, but with dedication, passion, and the right training, you can excel and carve out a rewarding and successful career. Remember, food has the power to connect people, evoke emotions, and create lasting memories. Your role in this process is invaluable, and the impact you can make is immeasurable.
So, seize this opportunity to explore the world of foodservice, let your creativity flourish, and embark on a journey of continuous learning. Your culinary adventure awaits!
Pro Tip: To kickstart your foodservice career and gain access to valuable training resources, visit Pineapple Academy's YouTube channel, where you can find a wide range of training materials designed to help you achieve your professional goals.