What Does a Caterer Assistant Do? (And How To Become One)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 22 January 2023

Published 1 November 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Caterer assistants are responsible for preparing food and serving food to customers. The job offers the opportunity to develop a broad range of skills and work with many companies. If you have a keen interest in cooking and would rather work in a practical environment, you might consider becoming a caterer assistant. In this article, we describe the answer to 'what does a caterer assistant do?', break down the skills needed for the role and answer some FAQs.

What does a caterer assistant do?

A caterer assistant, also known as a catering assistant, primarily helps a chef or lead caterer prepare food. Caterer assistants work in kitchens in a variety of organisations and sectors, from restaurants to theme parks to schools. Here are some common tasks you may complete as a caterer assistant:

  • taking orders from customers

  • cleaning the kitchen, including the floor, walls and work surfaces

  • clearing waste and maintaining a clean environment in line with food safety standards

  • basic food preparation such as peeling and chopping vegetables

  • simple cooking tasks such as grilling, roasting and baking

  • using kitchen appliances such as blenders and mixers

  • plating and serving food, including managing portion control

  • maintaining and organising stock in the fridge and storeroom

  • unloading deliveries of food or kitchen equipment

  • preparing the dining area, including cleaning and setting tables

  • ensuring caterers and chefs have the tools and ingredients they need

  • washing dishes and keeping kitchen appliances clean

Related: How to Become a Chef (With Common Duties, Skills and FAQs)

How to become a caterer assistant

Consider following these steps to become a caterer assistant:

1. Gain kitchen experience

Before getting qualified as a catering assistant, it's a good idea to get some experience working in a kitchen. Having some kitchen experience on your resume is a good way to impress employers when applying for future roles. It's also an excellent opportunity to find out whether you enjoy working in a kitchen environment.

Related: What Does a Kitchen Assistant Do? (With Skills and Salary)

2. Gain qualifications

TAFE providers or another registered training organisation may offer courses that can help you learn more about the role. You can develop your technical skills and earn a Certificate III in Catering Operations or a Certificate III in Commercial Cookery. You can obtain one of these certifications through an apprenticeship, allowing you to combine studies with practical work and earn money while you learn.

Related: What Is an Apprenticeship?

3. Write your caterer assistant resume

Before applying for jobs, make sure your resume is up to date. For the best chance of securing an interview, ensure you list your past professional experience in reverse chronological order, starting with the most recent experience. Try to highlight any kitchen experience you may have on your resume and in a cover letter. You can also mention any qualifications you hold and technical skills valuable in a caterer assistant role.

To increase your chances of getting an interview, you can include relevant keywords from the job description in your resume. For example, if a job post calls for a candidate with time-management skills, you can mention time-management skills in your resume. This can also help you show employers that you're qualified for an open position.

4. Apply for caterer assistant jobs

Once you have prepared your resume, you're ready to start applying for jobs as a caterer assistant. You can search for jobs using online job boards. These resources can allow you to filter available jobs by location, company and salary to find positions that match your skills, experience and qualifications.

Related: How To Become a Sous Chef

Catering assistant skills

As a caterer assistant, you may and thrive in a busy and fast-moving environment. Since the role involves preparing food, it's important to also have a good understanding of basic food hygiene. You can learn culinary safety through training courses or during an apprenticeship. Below are some other desirable skills and attributes for a caterer assistant:

  • Calm under pressure: A kitchen can be a lively environment with many tasks happening at once. To succeed as a catering assistant, it's important to manage pressure and maintain high-quality standards.

  • Enthusiasm: Working as a catering assistant is a varied job that involves constantly learning new skills. Being enthusiastic about your work with an eagerness to learn can help you stay motivated and remain productive.

  • Teamwork: Catering assistants regularly work with chefs, caterers, other assistants, dishwashers and kitchen staff. Teamwork can help you complete group projects and serve customers.

  • Communication skills: As a catering assistant, it's important to listen to instructions from chefs, caterers and managers. You can use this skill to communicate effectively with colleagues to ensure the team completes work properly and efficiently.

  • Customer service skills: While catering assistants usually work in the kitchen, they may sometimes interact with customers. The ability to confidently connect with them in a friendly and professional manner can reflect positively on both you and the catering company you work for.

  • Ability to work quickly: In a fast-moving environment like a kitchen, it's important to work quickly. Having good physical fitness and high concentration can help you work with speed.

  • Stamina and willingness to work hard: Catering assistants in restaurants and other similar venues often work evenings and weekends, meaning you may sometimes work long hours. Stamina and a good work ethic can help catering assistants stay motivated and productive throughout their shifts.

Frequently asked questions about caterer assistant careers

Here are the answers to some common questions about working as a caterer assistant, so you can decide if it's the right choice for you:

What do caterer assistants earn?

The national average salary for a catering assistant is $27.85 per hour. You may earn less than this while you are an apprentice or trainee and may be able to earn more as you progress. The amount you earn might also depend on your level of qualifications and where you are in the country.

Where do caterer assistants work?

Catering assistants work in many types of organisations. You may also find work as a catering assistant in the healthcare sector, for example in hospitals or aged care facilities. This includes the following venues where food may be served:

  • restaurants

  • cafes

  • large businesses with internal cafeterias

  • schools

  • hotels and other businesses

  • theme parks

  • water parks

What hours do caterer assistants work?

The hours you might work as a caterer assistant vary depending on your place of work. Catering assistants may work part-time or full-time hours and often work late nights or weekends, particularly in businesses such as restaurants or cafes. You may work regular full-time hours during the week if you work at a company that only operates in the daytime, like a school.

Related: What Is a Chef de Partie and How Do You Become One?

What are the working conditions like for a caterer assistant?

The work of a caterer assistant can be physically demanding at times, as it requires you to remain standing for long periods. Caterer assistants can remain alert at all times to minimise risk in the kitchen. They often operate in a loud kitchen environment with high-temperature equipment.

Catering assistants may wear a uniform depending on their employer. Many catering assistants find their work environment enjoyable. Some employers provide benefits such as discounts on food and drink.

Can I become a caterer assistant without qualifications?

There is no official requirement for qualifications to become a caterer assistant. However, you may find it easier to enter this profession with qualifications such as a Certificate III in a relevant subject. If you already have vocational experience working in a kitchen, you can apply for a caterer assistant job.

What career progression is available to a caterer assistant?

If you work hard as a caterer assistant, you can progress to a more advanced kitchen supervisor or catering manager role. You may eventually lead a group of caterer assistants. If you are interested in advancing your career into management, you could consider studying for a degree such as a Bachelor of Culinary Management. This qualification can help you develop the knowledge and skills you need to oversee a group of catering professionals.

Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location.

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