What’s the best way to start your hospitality career?
This can depend on many factors, like your education level and your goals. But for many, a job in the foodservice segment can be a great place to start. With plenty of opportunities and valuable lessons to be learned, food service gives future hospitality pros a solid foundation that they can build on as they climb the ladder of success.
Whatever your hospitality career path, here are six reasons why you should consider starting in foodservice.
1. Benefit From the Low Barrier to Entry
If you’re just starting your career, you need to work somewhere that welcomes entry-level employees. Fortunately, restaurants and other food providers hire often. Why? Because these businesses often promote from within. Hosts get promoted to server. Prep cooks move up to line cooks. As employees move up to their next job title, they have to be replaced. So there are nearly always entry-level openings to be filled!
2. Start Building Industry Relationships
Foodservice employees are also big foodservice customers. They make connections all over town, swapping stories and inviting each other to come to eat at their restaurants. So if you have big ambitions for your hospitality career, food service is a great place to start building your industry network. These friends may open doors for you in the future when you’re ready for your next move.
3. Develop Epic Efficiency Skills
Whether you’re working front of house or back of the house, you’ll be soaking up lessons in efficiency every day. In the kitchen, you’ll develop your mise en place skills, making sure you have everything you need—cookware, ingredients, knives, utensils—at your fingertips.
In the dining room, you’ll get in the habit of keeping “full hands.” This means you’ll always enter the kitchen with dirty dishes to bring to the dishwasher, and leave the kitchen with something useful. This could be food for a guest, glassware for the server station, silverware for the bar, or anything else that needs to be restocked.
Foodservice is built on speed, so maximum efficiency is always the goal. This kind of muscle memory is built through repetition, and a restaurant is a perfect place to hone it.
4. Learn How to Be “On” All the Time
Foodservice workers must be “on” during their entire shifts.
In the front of the house, hosts and servers are expected to be on the floor, in view of customers, for hours at a time. This can be a challenge, but it teaches you how to put on your “customer service face” for long periods of time.
In the back of the house, cooks and chefs must be constantly aware of their surroundings. They’re listening for calls from the chef or expeditor, announcing themselves as they move about, and keeping one eye on the rest of the line while they complete their own tasks.
Always listening and always moving! That’s life in foodservice, and it is a valuable lesson to bring with you along your hospitality career path.
5. Become Someone Your Team Can Rely On
In a restaurant, there are no extra hands on a shift to cover your slack. So you’ll learn quickly that being late or not bringing your A-game can throw the day off for everyone else. And it’s an easy way to lose the respect of your peers.
In such a teamwork-heavy environment, you’ll discover how vital it is to pull your own weight. This doesn’t mean you can’t ask for help! In fact, food service workers are phenomenal at helping each other when they get overwhelmed. But it goes both ways. You’ll learn how to ask for help, but also how to support your colleagues when they need it.
6. Build a Foundation in Food & Beverage
While not all hospitality jobs are exclusively focused on food, food is a major component in most segments of hospitality. Hotels and resorts, cruise lines, private event venues—each of these industries make a great deal of their income from food service. For hotels, food and beverage can bring in an average of 25% of their revenue!
So even if you don’t plan to work directly in F&B in the future, you can bet that speaking the language of food will be a valuable tool on your career path.