How to Train Catering Staff

By Paul Miceli; Updated July 05, 2017
Concentrated female chef garnishing food in kitchen
Wavebreakmedia Ltd/Wavebreak Media/Getty Images

The success of restaurants and catering outlets is largely determined by the performance of staff in key areas of the business. If customers are given anything less than a completely satisfactory eating experience, they will inevitably seek out new venues and businesses that can satisfy their demands. Staff training is a vital component of modern catering, and company managers have a full range of tools available that can improve food quality, hygiene levels and standards of service.

Register all new employees into a basic food hygiene course as soon as they join the company. Use a training facility that offers a realistic on-job experience. Alternatively, carry out your basic hygiene training in-house but use an external assessor to monitor staff performance and to provide certification once the course is complete.

Utilize a mentor system as soon as new employees begin to work with the company. Make sure the mentor is an experienced member of staff who is likely to be working in close proximity to the new employee at all times. Ask the mentor to reinforce key issues such as food handling, personal hygiene, cleaning practices and health and safety.

Implement a comprehensive staff training program that allows you to monitor the performance of staff members and accurately record their progress. Design a series of observational checklists that break tasks down into bite-sized pieces of actionable behavior. Encourage mentors to complete checklists on your behalf and record completed modules on staff files so that long-term performance can be easily reviewed. Include every aspect of individual responsibilities on each checklist, such as using food boards, wearing aprons and checking the internal temperatures of cooked products.

Hire a catering consultation company and allow them to spend a week at your company in an observational capacity. Leave the assessors from the consultation company to work alone instead of trying to enforce your current working practices on them. Remember that the assessors will be looking for things that even a manager might miss during the day-to-day running of a catering business and any observations that they make will be reported back to you at the end of the week. Use any recommendations provided by the assessors to update your own training system to ensure maximum staff performance.

Implement a culture of professional pride by creating an "Employee of the Month" competition. Make a financial reward or gift available to the winning employee. Use the competition as a means of reinforcing the importance of superior food quality, excellent levels of customer service and high standards of hygiene. Avoid giving the prize to the same employee on a regular basis. Instead, try to recognize areas where a staff member has struggled to implement the standards you require and reward them accordingly when those obstacles are overcome.

About the Author

Based in the United Kingdom, Paul Miceli has been a professional writer since 2006. He has been published online by Ideate Media and Promiga and has a proven track record of producing informational articles and sales copy. Miceli is educated to U.K. "A-level" standard, continues to work as a paint sprayer and has more than 25 years of automotive body repair experience.