Career Development

What Does a Kitchen Steward Do?

Find out what a Kitchen Steward does, how to get this job, salary information, and what it takes to succeed as a Kitchen Steward.

The Kitchen Steward plays an essential role in maintaining the operational efficiency of a kitchen, ensuring that the back-of-house area operates smoothly. This position is responsible for upholding the highest standards of cleanliness and hygiene within the kitchen, from washing dishes and utensils to ensuring the proper disposal of waste and the cleanliness of kitchen equipment. By managing these responsibilities, the Kitchen Steward supports the culinary team, allowing chefs and cooks to focus on food preparation and service. This role contributes significantly to a kitchen’s overall functionality, directly impacting the quality of the dining experience by maintaining a clean and organized environment that meets health and safety standards.

Kitchen Steward Job Duties

  • Clean and sanitize all kitchen equipment, utensils, and surfaces, ensuring compliance with health and safety standards.
  • Operate dishwashing machines, ensuring dishes, glassware, and silverware are cleaned efficiently and are streak-free.
  • Manage waste disposal and recycling, following environmental sustainability practices.
  • Control inventory of kitchen supplies, including detergents and cleaning tools, and reorder as necessary.
  • Assist in the preparation of food as directed by the chef, including washing, peeling, and cutting ingredients.
  • Maintain the kitchen storage areas, ensuring that food supplies are stored correctly and safely to prevent spoilage.
  • Conduct regular inspections of the kitchen and equipment to identify any repairs or replacements needed.
  • Coordinate with the front of house staff to ensure smooth operation and timely turnover of kitchenware and dining utensils.

Kitchen Steward Salary & Outlook

Factors influencing a Kitchen Steward’s salary include experience level, the size and prestige of the establishment, specific duties (e.g., inventory management, equipment maintenance), shift timings (night or weekend shifts may command higher pay), and the steward’s efficiency and skill in maintaining kitchen cleanliness and complying with health standards.

  • Median Annual Salary: $30,874 ($14.84/hour)
  • Top 10% Annual Salary: $52,000 ($25/hour)

The employment of kitchen stewards is expected to grow slower than average over the next decade.

This trend is primarily due to technological advancements in kitchen equipment and cleaning devices, reducing the need for manual labor. Additionally, a shift towards more casual dining experiences and the increasing popularity of meal delivery services contribute to less demand for traditional kitchen steward roles in formal dining settings.

Kitchen Steward Job Requirements

Education: A Kitchen Steward typically requires a high school diploma, with coursework in hospitality, culinary arts, or a related field being advantageous. Emphasis on subjects like home economics, mathematics for managing inventories, and basic computer skills for logging tasks can provide a solid foundation. While specific majors are not necessary, a focus on courses that enhance understanding of kitchen operations, sanitation standards, and customer service can be beneficial for career advancement in the hospitality industry.

Experience: Kitchen Stewards often start with no prior experience, with many transitioning into the role through on-the-job training. This position is ideal for individuals eager to learn and adapt, as it involves a variety of tasks including cleaning, basic food preparation, and maintaining kitchen hygiene. Employers typically offer structured training programs to equip new stewards with the necessary skills. Some may have experience in similar roles, enhancing their understanding of kitchen operations and improving their efficiency and effectiveness in the role.

Certifications & Licenses: Typically, the job of a Kitchen Steward does not require any specific certifications or licenses.

Kitchen Steward Skills

Sanitation Standards: Kitchen Stewards play a pivotal role in ensuring food preparation areas are clean and meet health and safety regulations. Their duties include the regular disinfection of surfaces, utensils, and equipment, alongside managing waste disposal and pest control to prevent contamination and safeguard the health of staff and patrons.

Chemical Use and Safety: Handling and applying cleaning agents and sanitizers correctly is crucial for a hygienic kitchen environment. Kitchen Stewards must adhere to safety protocols to avoid chemical-related incidents, which includes the safe storage and disposal of hazardous substances.

Inventory Management: Keeping track of food supplies, utensils, and equipment is essential for the smooth and cost-effective operation of the kitchen. Kitchen Stewards must accurately forecast needs, minimizing waste while ensuring quality and availability.

Equipment Maintenance: Regular cleaning, servicing, and preventive maintenance are necessary to extend the life and efficiency of kitchen appliances and utensils. Identifying signs of wear and tear and arranging timely repairs are critical to prevent operational disruptions.

Waste Management: Proper segregation of organic, recyclable, and non-recyclable waste complies with health and safety standards and reduces the kitchen’s environmental impact. Effective waste management practices contribute to smoother operations and lower waste disposal costs.

Dishwashing Operations: Managing the transition of dishes from dirty to clean and ready-to-use is vital for kitchen efficiency. Prioritizing tasks under pressure and ensuring the availability of sanitized plates, utensils, and cooking tools supports the culinary team and enhances the dining experience.

Kitchen Steward Work Environment

A Kitchen Steward operates in the bustling heart of restaurants or hotels, where the environment is characterized by the constant hum of activity. Their workspace is primarily behind the scenes, in the dishwashing area and storage rooms, surrounded by an array of cleaning tools and equipment designed for efficiency and hygiene.

The work hours can stretch beyond the typical nine-to-five, often covering late evenings, weekends, and holidays to align with the peak times of the hospitality industry. This role demands a uniform or dress code that prioritizes practicality and safety, given the wet floors and occasional hazards like broken glass.

In terms of culture, the kitchen steward is part of a close-knit team, where camaraderie is built through shared tasks and the fast-paced environment. Interaction with others is frequent, though more so with kitchen staff than with diners. The pace is brisk, with little room for downtime, especially during meal service rushes. Despite the demanding nature of the job, it offers a pathway for those interested in climbing the culinary career ladder, starting from this foundational role.

Advancement Prospects

A Kitchen Steward, starting at the entry-level, has a clear pathway to advance within the hospitality and culinary industries. Progression often begins with mastering dishwashing, cleaning, and basic kitchen maintenance tasks. With experience, a steward can ascend to a Senior Steward position, overseeing a team and managing kitchen cleanliness standards.

The next step could involve moving into a Kitchen Supervisor or Head Steward role, focusing on inventory management, scheduling, and compliance with health and safety regulations. Exceptional stewards might transition into kitchen management positions, such as Sous Chef or Kitchen Manager, where culinary skills, leadership, and operational management are key.

Achieving these advancements requires a combination of hands-on experience, a strong work ethic, and the ability to lead and train others. Demonstrating initiative in improving kitchen processes and a commitment to excellence in all tasks will set a steward apart as a candidate for promotion.


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