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A restaurant steward, sometimes called a dishwasher, is instrumental in all kitchen operations. Under the direction of the head chef or head cook, he maintains all preparation and the food storage areas. This maintenance includes routine and heavy cleaning, the organization of supplies and trash control.
This position requires exemplary organizational and multi-tasking abilities. Attention to detail is necessary to clean and maintain equipment and work areas according to in-house, local, state and federal regulations for safety and sanitation. A restaurant steward must have mechanical skills to operate electric machines such as dishwashers, sanitizers, trash compactors and glass crushers.
The responsibilities of a restaurant steward include regular maintenance and special projects. On each shift, he is expected to wash dishes, pots and pans, utensils and food preparation machines and clean floors, counters and work tables. Less frequently, he performs in-depth cleaning of walk-in freezers and refrigerators, ovens, stoves and pantries. He may occasionally assist in unloading deliveries of food or supplies.
Modern kitchens usually have good ventilation and air conditioning systems that create a pleasant work environment. On the other hand, older establishments without these systems have hot, odorous kitchens. The job requires getting into awkward positions and lifting heavy objects and cartons. Stewards typically must wear a company uniform.
Education and Abilities
There are no educational requirements to be a restaurant steward. A basic understanding of food preparation operations is desirable, as is the ability to read directions and follow verbal instructions. Work experience in food preparation or service is also desirable.
Salary and Advancement
The average annual wage of dishwashers or kitchen stewards in all industries was $19,180 as of 2013, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The majority worked in restaurants and other eating places, where they received an average of $18,600 per year. Advancement opportunities abound, including food preparer, sous chef and chef. These prospects increase if the steward demonstrates culinary skill.
Cassie Damewood has been a writer and editor since 1985. She writes about food and cooking for various websites, including My Great Recipes, and serves as the copy editor for "Food Loves Beer" magazine. Damewood completed a Bachelor of Arts in English with an emphasis in creative writing at Miami University.