Catering assistants, chefs and cooks
Catering assistants and cooks are all part of the catering team.The food prepared and served by catering staff in hospitals and other healthcare settings is important for patient recovery and also promotes healthy lifestyles and wellbeing.
In larger hospital kitchens, a chef or head cook will oversee and supervise the rest of the team.
Working as a chef or cook, you would usually have little or no contact with patients. However, as a catering assistant, you may have some contact with patients, depending on where you are based.
As a chef or cook, your duties are likely to include:
- planning meals and menus, taking dietary requirements in to account
- preparing and cooking food, following NHSScotland standards and ensuring a high standard of quality is maintained
- ensuring that meals are served promptly
- stock control and reducing food waste
- ensuring food is stored correctly and hygienically
- monitoring food quality
- following the required hygiene, health and safety procedures
- check and monitor performance of kitchen equipment and report the need for maintenance and repair as required
Catering assistants may be involved in:
- preparing vegetables or cold foods
- washing up, by hand or using a dishwasher
- maintaining food hygiene standards and ensuring kitchen areas, such as work surfaces, equipment, floors and stores are kept clean
- serving meals and clearing tables in a canteen
- load meals onto trolleys to go to wards and other parts of the hospital
- monitor temperatures of food served in wards
- ensure equipment is safe and clean before use
Working as a catering manager, you would supervise catering staff to make sure meals are prepared and served correctly. You would also ensure services meet health and safety and food hygiene standards.
Catering managers often work with dieticians and dietetic assistants to plan meals for patients with special requirements. They also work closely with chefs and cooks to plan menus, ensuring ingredients and supplies are available and used carefully to minimise waste and meet financial targets. They use IT systems to order supplies and keep financial and administrative records.
Food safety legislation
It is vital for everyone in the catering services team to understand food safety legislation. You will need to know how to prepare, store and serve food in ways that reduce the risk of infection while helping patients recover and return to health. Find out more about the standards for food, fluid and nutritional care on the Healthcare Improvement Scotland website.