what is a catering assistant?

As a catering assistant, your job is to maintain kitchen organisation and general cleanliness in the cooking and service areas. Additionally, you help with basic food preparation tasks, including operating slicing and chipping machines. You have storeroom and stock duties on shift, receiving deliveries and putting them away. You also take care of washing equipment and crockery, collecting rubbish, clearing tables and, when required, serving customers.

what does a catering assistant do?

To be a catering assistant, you need physical stamina and the ability to work well with others under pressure. A catering assistant works as part of a kitchen team in a busy and fast-moving environment. Hence, attention to detail is important, as is excellent spatial awareness to avoid accidents in the confined space of the cooking area. You work quickly and efficiently, lifting boxes, using potentially dangerous tools and equipment, and delivering prepared meals. Catering assistants work in various companies. For instance, you may work in an office preparing meals for workers or service workers at a construction or mining site. Regardless of your work environment, your primary role is to ensure meals are served properly.

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average catering assistant salary

The average salary of a catering assistant is $55,000 per year. The work responsibilities can increase or decrease your salary. For instance, you will earn a starting salary of $50,000 annually when you have minimal responsibilities. With experience and additional qualifications, you receive a remuneration package of over $60,000 yearly.

what factors affect your salary as a catering assistant?

The tasks and duties a catering assistant performs influence their earnings. Some catering assistants help chefs prepare food, while others only monitor kitchen operations. When you have a supervisory role, you are likely to earn more than an entry-level catering assistant.

The hours you work also affect your remuneration. When you work full-time, you are likely to earn more than working part-time. Some catering assistants work outside standard business hours, like evenings and weekends, and the hourly rates are higher than standard business hours.

The industry you work in and your location also determine your earnings. Working in the hotel or hospitality industry pays depending on the size and duties you perform at the hotel. Working in metro areas also pays more than hotels in smaller cities.

Want to know what you will earn as a catering assistant? Check out what you are worth with our salary checker.

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types of catering assistants

As a catering assistant, you can find work in various organisations. Depending on the size of the business, you are either focused on a few repetitive tasks or have broader areas of responsibility:

  • coffee shops and pubs: small hospitality businesses need their staff to do a little bit of everything. As well as assisting the cook or chef by washing and preparing ingredients, performing basic cooking tasks, and managing stock levels, you also clean the serving areas and wash plates and utensils. In some businesses, you order supplies and receive fresh produce. You assist the waiting staff in setting and clearing tables, serving meals and taking orders from customers during busy periods.
  • hotels and restaurants: as a catering assistant in a small hotel or restaurant, you take many of the same broad responsibilities as in a cafe or pub. In larger establishments, your tasks are more focused but involve basic food preparation and cooking. You also manage the stock levels on shift to ensure that ingredients are on hand, dishwashing duties and keeping the kitchen and service areas clean.
  • canteens and commissaries: hospitals, schools and military bases have large kitchens, so your main role as a catering assistant is to prepare large ingredients for cooking in bulk. In kitchens with a canteen, you serve diners from behind a hot or cold display station, while in a hospital, you might do rounds of the wards to take patients' meal orders.
  • event catering: as a catering assistant in an event management company, you help prepare food for transport and then for service. You work in the company's kitchen, maintaining cleanliness and preparing ingredients, and then help your team to pack up the meals to be delivered to the event. When on-site, you could be at the back of the house, or you might be responsible for clearing tables and packing away equipment at the end of the event.
Photo serie Hospitality
Photo serie Hospitality

working as a catering assistant

If you are interested in working as a catering assistant, check out the specific duties and tasks they perform.


education and skills

Formal qualifications aren't mandatory for becoming a catering assistant, but the following educational qualifications improve your competitiveness:

  • qualifications: to become a catering assistant, enrol in a Certificate III in catering operations. The courses are available in a TAFE, or you can pursue them at a registered training organisation. Alternatively, complete a certificate in commercial cookery and finish an apprenticeship program to improve your cooking experience and skills. If you are interested in a management role, complete an undergraduate qualification in culinary management or hospitality management.
  • kitchen experience: you require work experience in a kitchen environment. Having cooking and kitchen experience prepares you for various duties associated with the role.

catering assistant skills and competencies

As a catering assistant, you require the following skills to thrive in a fast-paced environment:

  • ability to stay calm under pressure: as a catering assistant, you work in a busy and lively environment due to many tasks happening at once. The ability to remain calm is important since you handle various client complaints. Your calm nature is also useful in maintaining high-quality standards.
  • teamwork skills: as a catering assistant, you work with caterers, chefs, dishwashers and kitchen staff. With many professionals working in close proximity, conflicts are unavoidable. You require teamwork skills to work as a team and serve customers well.
  • communication skills: as a catering assistant, you interact with guests when serving food. Being friendly and polite when communicating with guests and other professionals is important.
  • customer service skills: as a catering assistant, you work in the kitchen and sometimes interact with customers. Your customer service skills help you connect with customers and provide the best catering experience.

FAQs about working as a catering assistant

Here, you will find the answers to the most frequently asked questions about the profession of a catering assistant.

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