A food service specialist prepares and serves food for a large group of people at places such as schools, institutions, and in the military. The specialist is generally required to have at least a high school diploma to get a job, and usually works with a team of other people. Major duties of the job include food preparation, cleaning, and operating equipment. An individual working as a food service specialist might also spend time creating menus, ordering products, or keeping records. This position requires that a person be good with people and enjoy a kitchen atmosphere.
Food preparation is a big part of a food service specialist's job. Since the food being prepared is generally for a large group, there is a lot of work that must be done prior to serving it. For instance, this can include such things as chopping vegetables for salads, portioning main courses, and making sauces. The preparation required can vary on a daily basis or an individual can be responsible for the same thing each day depending on the exact job he or she is hired for. Part of the duty of preparation is utilizing equipment such as blenders, ovens, and knives.
After the food is prepared, a food service specialist is responsible for plating and serving the food. Plating entails placing the food onto plates in order to be eaten, and can also include garnishing plates to help make them look nice. At this point, the food is taken to the tables by either the food service specialist or servers. In buffet situations, a food service specialist places the food onto the buffet line and ensures that it remains filled as needed.
Once the food has been consumed, the plates, dishes, equipment, and kitchen have to be cleaned, and this responsibility often falls on a food service specialist. It is important to maintain high cleaning standards in professional kitchens, so sanitizing and scrubbing often has to be done at the end of the day. Records are kept detailing the food that was served and the cleaning that occurred at the end of the shift.
Other job duties of a food service specialist can involve keeping inventory, or counting all of the items in the kitchen and keeping records of it. This is usually done during slower parts of the day when food is not being prepared. When items run out, it is sometimes the responsibility of the specialist to order more.