Your Career

Chefs and cooks and catering assistant are responsible for cooking and serving food for staff and patients in hospitals.


Our catering staff work together to make sure that food and drink is nutritious and appetising. The food has to meet patients' medical and cultural needs including, for example, gluten free, low fat, soft food, halal and vegetarian.

As a cook or chef, your duties include:

  • planning meals and menus
  • preparing food
  • using kitchen equipment such as mixers
  • storing food correctly
  • making sure as little as possible is wasted
  • supervising kitchen assistants

As an assistant or catering support worker, you may:

  • prepare food such as vegetables for the cook or chef
  • wash up, by hand or using a dishwasher
  • keep kitchen areas clean
  • clear tables
  • load meals onto trolleys to go to wards and other parts of the hospital
  • serve meals to staff in a canteen or restaurant
  • operate a till and handle cash

Who will I work with?

Chefs, cooks and assistants work as part of the catering team.  In a large kitchen there may be a head chef or cook overseeing one or more assistant chefs or cooks. Catering assistants usually work in a team, with a team leader supervising them.

Chefs and cooks may have little or no contact with patients. Catering assistants may have some contact with patients, depending on where they work.

What skills do I need?

Chefs, cooks and assistants need to be:

  • interested in food and cooking
  • willing to work in hot, noisy conditions
  • physically fit for standing, moving and lifting
  • flexible and adaptable
  • keen to provide good customer service

They also need

  • awareness of food hygiene and food safety
  • teamworking skills
  • organisational skills

Sound right for you?

Yes... now it's time to find you a job. 

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Please note that some of this content on this page is copyright of Health Education England.

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