What It Takes to Be a Kitchen Porter (Including Duties)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published November 14, 2022

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.

Most organizations that run a functional kitchen, like restaurants and hotels, assemble a team of professionals and support staff to manage them. The kitchen porter role is one integral part of any kitchen team. Understanding the responsibilities of a kitchen porter can help you determine if it's a good fit for you. In this article, we outline what it takes to be a kitchen porter, define what a kitchen porter is, examine their duties, explain how to become one, highlight the skills needed, and explore some job opportunities you can consider as a porter.

What it takes to be a kitchen porter

Learning what it takes to be a kitchen porter is the first step toward building a career in this position. Here's a detailed outline of the education, experience, and skills you typically require for this role:

Education

While there are no formal educational requirements to work as a porter, employers typically require candidates to possess at least a high school diploma to qualify. They expect that this level of education gives you the basic knowledge of communication and calculation, which is essential to excelling in the role. Some of these employers may prefer candidates possessing a certificate in food safety. You can earn this certificate by taking any food safety training courses available around you.

Related: Top 14 Careers in the Food Industry (With Salaries)

Experience

Employers typically require between one to three years of relevant professional experience when hiring porters for their kitchens. They expect candidates to have experience working in roles similar to the vacant role, which means the more time you've spent working in a kitchen, the better your chances are of securing a kitchen porter role. Your experience can be in similar roles, like a dishwasher or catering assistant.

Skills

Porters' main responsibility is ensuring a kitchen runs smoothly, which requires organizational ability, time management, teamwork, physical fitness, and knowledge of safe food practices. The more of these skills you possess, the more suitable this role may be for you. Highlighting these skills on your resume can help you present a strong application.

Related: Cooking Skills: Examples and Tips on How to Improve Them

What is a kitchen porter?

A kitchen porter is someone who helps to maintain cleanliness and orderliness in the kitchen. They're responsible for a myriad of tasks, which facilitate the job of the chefs and help ensure the kitchen runs smoothly. These tasks include washing dishes, equipment, and utensils and carrying out basic food preparation. Porters typically work in restaurants, hotels, hospitals, and other places offering food service. While it's usually an entry-level position, candidates often take the job to gain experience in commercial kitchens and prepare for a bigger role in the kitchen.

Related: Roles for Kitchen Staff (Including Valuable Skills)

What does a kitchen porter do?

The kitchen porter performs support work to help keep kitchens running on schedule and within food safety regulations. The following are some of their general responsibilities:

  • Washing dishes, equipment, and utensils: Porters help ensure that all the equipment is clean and ready for preparing and serving food by regularly washing dishes, utensils, and other materials in the kitchen.


  • Sanitizing kitchen surfaces: Leaving surface areas unattended can compromise the sanitary state of a kitchen, so porters sanitize counters, stovetops, and other places where chefs prepare food to meet health regulations.


  • Inventory support: Porters help kitchen managers keep an inventory of kitchen supplies by organizing food storage and making requests to restock supplies.


  • Receiving deliveries: Porters receive and unpack all deliveries, ensuring that all food and supplies are in the correct places.


  • General cleaning: They sweep and mop the floors, wipe out trash cans, change garbage liners, and clean and organize food storage.


  • Equipment maintenance: Porters ensure that ovens, refrigerators, mixers, and other cooking equipment are in working order.


  • Basic food preparation: They help chefs and cooks prepare meals by washing, peeling, and cutting ingredients.

Related: 15 Jobs That Don't Require a Degree (With Salaries)

How to become a kitchen porter

Follow these steps to begin working as a kitchen porter:

  • Earn a high school diploma or GED. Most employers require kitchen porters to have at least a high school diploma. This education can also give you the tools you require to complete basic math and understand kitchen demands.


  • Design a resume. On your resume, you can emphasize traits like your willingness to work as part of a team, your organizational skills, and any experience you may have working with food.


  • Apply for a job. You can apply directly to the restaurant, find work through a placement agency, or work with a career centre.


  • Earn a food safety certificate. While some restaurants might want you to have a food safety certificate, you can often earn it through training provided by the establishment.

Key skills for kitchen porters

Here are the essential skills for succeeding as a kitchen porter:

  • Time management: Kitchen porters typically follow a strict schedule, and the ability to transition easily between tasks is essential. This skill can help you understand how long tasks may take and prioritize the essential ones.


  • Teamwork: The kitchen porter role exists within a team that works in a fast-paced kitchen environment. The ability to take direction and understand the workflow is essential to excel in this role.


  • Communication: Working as part of a team requires excellent communication skills. Porters explain where items are and how much inventory is available, and they describe any problems they see with the equipment to the kitchen manager and contractors.


  • Food safety and sanitizing procedures: Kitchen porters help to keep food from cross-contaminating and ensure that surfaces are clean. The knowledge of proper storage and preparation of different ingredients is essential.


  • Attention to detail: As a kitchen porter, you're responsible for organizing, cleaning, and storage, which means being meticulous and paying close attention to your environment.

5 jobs for a kitchen porter

You may review the following jobs you can consider as a kitchen porter:

1. Dishwasher

National average salary: $36,881 per year

Primary duties: Dishwashers assist kitchen stewards in performing the daily tasks of the stewarding department. These tasks may include setting up and operating the dishwasher machine to establish specifications and ensuring the correct temperature and chemicals are in use at all times. They also wash, transport, and store all glass and dinnerware.

2. Catering assistant

National average salary: $39,575 per year

Primary duties: Catering assistants are responsible for prep work such as washing, peeling, cutting, and seeding fruits and vegetables. They carry pans, kettles, and trays of food to and from workstations, stoves, and refrigerators, following safety standards. They also store food in designated areas, following wrapping, dating, food safety, and rotation procedures, and set up items for purchase daily.

Related: What Does a Prep Cook Do? With Average Salary Information

3. Kitchen team member

National average salary: $43,805 per year

Primary duties: Kitchen team members are responsible for maintaining a clean, safe, stocked, and orderly work area. They execute daily opening, closing, cleaning, and stocking checklists, and perform physical activities such as lifting, balancing, walking, and handling materials and boxes. They also ensure strict adherence to food safety and restaurant safety and security practices.

4. Kitchen assistant

National average salary: $52,359 per year

Primary duties: Kitchen assistants work with other kitchen staff to plan and prepare meals for guests and staff. They're often responsible for sourcing and ordering food and other supplies when necessary and maintaining food quality and kitchen cleanliness. They also ensure compliance with health and safety regulations while devising ways to reduce kitchen food waste and its environmental impact.

5. Kitchen steward

National average salary: $68,581 per year

Primary duties: Kitchen stewards help keep all areas in the kitchen clean, according to hygienic and safety standards. They set up the dish-wash and pot-wash areas and clean and maintain catering equipment. Stewards are also responsible for removing garbage, recycling paper, plastic, glass, cardboard, and tin products, and cleaning delivery areas. They often assist in plating for banquet functions.

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

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