Group of chefs preparing vegetables in the kitchen

Hospitality and Catering Frequently Asked Questions

There are lots of things you may want to know about temporary work in the hospitality and catering industry, so we have put together a list of answers to the most frequently asked questions. 

What different job roles are there in hospitality and catering?

The hospitality industry covers a wide range of job roles. Catering jobs include Kitchen Porters, Kitchen Assistants, Catering Assistants and Food Service Assistants. Then, there are the various Chef jobs within the kitchen hierarchy from Commis Chef to Head Chef. Other hospitality jobs include  working front of house in a Waiter or Waitress position or as Bar Staff or a Barista.

How many hours a week do catering staff work?

The number of hours and their arrangement will vary depending on where you work. In a restaurant or hotel you can expect to work long shifts and late hours. In hotels especially you may have to start early in the morning to prepare and serve breakfast and both hotels and restaurants will often require you to finish late in the evening. 

Sometimes in the catering industry you have to work a split shift to cover the different mealtimes, though in many places hours are arranged so you only work straight shifts.

Catering jobs in schools, care homes or staff canteens usually have more sociable and consistent hours. 

Placements are flexible so Blue Arrow can to work around your availability.

How much do catering jobs pay?

This will vary depending on where you are in the country, the job role and the client. It can also depend on whether you are on a permanent contract or in a temporary position.

 As a guide, below are the current average UK hourly rates of pay. You can use our Salary Checker to find out pay rates in your part of the country. 

  • Waiter/Waitress: £9.65 per hour
  • Barista: £8.73 per hour 
  • Kitchen Porter £9.12 per hour
  • Commis Chef: £9.57 per hour
  • Chef de Partie: £11.81 per hour
  • Sous Chef: £13.84 per hour
  • Head Chef: £15.72 per hour

What skills are needed to work in hospitality and catering?

Each individual job role within the hospitality and catering industry will have their own specific attributes but the following are some desirable key skills to have: 

  • Team player
  • Reliability and dependability 
  •  Flexible and willing take on a variety of tasks     
  •   Ability to meet the physical demands of the job 
  • Good organisational skills 
  • Good people skills     
  •   Literacy & numeracy         

Can you be a Chef without going to culinary school?

You can enter the hospitality and catering industry as a Kitchen Porter or Catering Assistant without any experience or culinary qualification. It is possible to learn on the job and work your way up the Chef hierarchy but gaining a formal qualification or doing an apprenticeship is definitely beneficial and will help distinguish you from the competition. There are also many online resources that can help you improve your culinary knowledge and skills.

 Do I need my own knives to work as a Chef?

Yes, most positions will require you to have your own knives and experienced Chefs will have their own set to take with them wherever they work. A knife to a Chef is like a racquet to a professional tennis player – it is your number one tool and you will need to have the right one to do the best job you can. For advice on choosing the right knife for you, read our blog “Top 5 Chefs Knives”.

What different environments can you work in as a chef or catering staff? 

Temporary positions are available in all different kinds of catering environments producing a wide range of food types to different sectors of the public. Jobs placements can vary as widely as working in a burger van, a fine dining restaurant, a school or a care home. 

What if I don’t have experience in a particular environment?

Whilst you may not have the exact experience, you will only be placed somewhere that it is felt you will be capable of completing the job effectively. Taking on a role in a new environment is a good way to increase your knowledge and expertise which will  help with your future career progression. 

How much notice will I get before starting a job?

This will vary depending on the job and the client. Sometimes it can be 3 or 4 weeks’ notice, but often in the catering industry it can be a last minute booking with positions to fill as soon as possible. 

What should I wear?

The usual dress code for Chefs is clean Chef whites, an apron and closed non-slip shoes. Either a hat or hair net will be required and beard nets where appropriate. Other kitchen staff are generally expected to wear all black clothes, non-slip shoes and a hat or hair net. The dress code for front of house staff  is to wear white shirt, black trousers and black shoes. The exact requirements will depend on the client and you will be given full instructions before you begin the assignment.