Getting into the culinary arts often involves getting your foot in the door at an existing venue.
Becoming a kitchen porter is one of the best ways to get yourself into a “back of the house” position while putting you in a great position to learn and advance to other positions.
Not only will you learn the workings of the kitchen, but you’ll also help the kitchen maintain proper standards and faster service.
Table Of Contents
- What is a Kitchen Porter?
- Work Opportunities in the Kitchen Porter Industry
- What It’s Like to be a Kitchen Porter
- Kitchen Porter Salary & Income
- Overview of the Kitchen Porter Industry
- Requirements, Skills, and Education Required for Kitchen Porters
- Kitchen Porter Education & Schooling
- Steps to Become a Kitchen Porter
- Wrapping Up
What is a Kitchen Porter?
A kitchen porter is an entry-level member of the kitchen staff that has a relatively long list of responsibilities compared to other kitchen positions.
It is often used as a jumping-off point to a more advanced kitchen position.
Also Known As: A kitchen porter is also called a kitchen hand, kitchen assistant, or kitchen steward.
What Does a Kitchen Porter Do?
A kitchen porter has a long list of responsibilities that help keep the kitchen running smoothly and efficiently.
They help maintain a clean preparation and cooking area, assist in washing dishes, help manage inventory, and help with prep work.
They report to all chefs as part of their establishment’s kitchen brigade system.
Work Opportunities in the Kitchen Porter Industry
There are many opportunities available for kitchen porter jobs, spanning many different types and styles of work environments.
Kitchen Porter Job Description
Depending on the environment in which the kitchen porter works, they can have a significant impact on the operations of the kitchen as a whole.
They are the primary position responsible for maintaining a clean kitchen and properly maintained equipment.
This means keeping all stations clean and sanitized, as well as helping to keep cookware cleaned and ready for use.
The kitchen porter does the same for kitchen equipment such as stoves, refrigerators, and more.
The kitchen porter is the person responsible for reporting damaged or defective equipment to management.
Additionally, the kitchen porter helps manage inventory, like tracking deliveries, unloading shipments, and storing supplies properly.
The kitchen porter should also be keenly aware of any dwindling supplies, and in some cases may be authorized to order more as needed.
They will also help prepare food when needed, in many situations.
Where Can a Kitchen Porter Work?
Becoming a kitchen porter can lead to a wide variety of opportunities in the culinary arts field.
A kitchen porter can work in just about any setting where food is prepared.
Common locations include chain restaurants, diners, hotel restaurants, hospital kitchens & cafeterias, educational cafeteria settings, and even correctional facilities.
The settings where a kitchen porter can work are a wide range of both public and private settings.
Current Kitchen Porter Job Openings
If you are looking for a position as a kitchen porter, or want to get your career in cooking and hospitality started, take a look at a few of these options.
What It’s Like to be a Kitchen Porter
Is Being a Kitchen Porter Hard?
The job of a kitchen porter involves a lot of time standing and walking, so anyone interested in the career will spend a significant amount of time on their feet.
While heavy lifting isn’t generally needed, a kitchen porter will need to unload and store boxes of supplies and produce.
Is a Kitchen Porter Job Stressful?
A kitchen porter job will have a considerable level of stress involved, particularly when the kitchen is open and operating, and especially during meal rush times.
Since they report directly to all chefs in the kitchen, they can easily be required to juggle tasks from more than one party at a time.
Being a kitchen porter is not ideal for someone who cannot operate under stress.
Common Kitchen Porter Work Day
When the kitchen porter arrives at work, they will commonly need to receive shipments of food and supplies, storing them properly.
Once morning receiving is done, the kitchen porter will then begin cleaning anything in the kitchen that needs to be cleaned, and ensures that all food preparation surfaces are clean and sterile.
As opening approaches, the kitchen porter will often be involved heavily in prep work, such as cutting produce, portioning meats, and ensuring that anything needed for the rest of the chefs is in order.
During kitchen service and operation they will help maintain the cleanliness of the kitchen, as well as make sure that there are adequate supplies for all chefs.
If inventory runs low they will advise management and chefs who require that item at their station, so that crucial ingredients do not run out mid-service.
Kitchen Porter Tasks & Duties
The four main categories of kitchen porter duties are keeping the kitchen area clean, maintaining kitchen equipment, assisting with food and ingredient preparation, and managing storeroom and kitchen inventories.
Kitchen Porter Work Hours & Schedule
The work hours and schedule of a kitchen porter will depend heavily on the hours and operation of the establishment where they are employed.
In some cases, they may have a relatively stable schedule, in other situations, they may have a more ad hoc or “as needed’ schedule.
It will also depend on how busy the kitchen usually is, a slower kitchen may only need a kitchen porter there for a few hours each day, while busier kitchens may need several porters there most of the day every day they’re open.
Kitchen Porter Dress Code
The dress code of the kitchen porter will depend on the formality or informality of the establishment.
In some cases, they may be required to wear some version of chef whites, while in others they may simply need a clean button-up shirt.
Does This Career Field Embrace Work/Life Balance?
This is another point that will greatly depend on where the kitchen porter works.
Busier locations that have multiple kitchen porters and are adequately staffed in other respects will generally be able to provide sufficient work/life balance.
Some kitchens that maintain lower staff levels and are frequently spread thin may ask for a lot of overtime from their kitchen porter or porters.
Kitchen Porter Salary & Income
Depending on where they are employed, and compared to other positions in the back of the house, a kitchen porter makes good money.
They are in an hourly or salaried position, so they do not receive a “tipped position” wage which is far lower.
How Much Do Kitchen Porters Make?
The average kitchen porter in the US will make between $24,800 and $35,000.
The median salary is just over $28,000, while the middle half of kitchen porters will make between $28,000 and $30,000.
Do Kitchen Porters get paid weekly?
The salary of a kitchen porter varies depending on experience level, but entry level porters make $487 per week and average porters will make about $560 per week.
If you are an experienced porter, you may make up to $675 per week.
Overview of the Kitchen Porter Industry
Kitchen Porter Field: Career Progression
For someone entering the culinary field with a kitchen porter job, there is nowhere to go but up.
Those who start as kitchen porters have the potential to advance into a wide range of kitchen and hospitality positions.
The next step after kitchen porter is commonly commis chef, then a specific chef de partie such as grill chef, fish chef, or pastry chef.
From there it’s not uncommon to advance to pastry chef, sous chef, and finally head chef.
Is Kitchen Porter a Good Career?
While most people with a kitchen porter position do not plan on staying there forever, it is not the worst job in the kitchen.
There is a lot to do, so boredom is rare, and there is plenty of room for advancement through the ranks of the kitchen, all the way up to the head chef if desired.
Kitchen Porter Job Outlook
The outlook for kitchen porter jobs is projected to be good from 2020-2030, with the expected job growth for cooks and preparation workers expected to exceed 20% according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics outlook.
Demand for Kitchen Porter
The demand for kitchen porter positions is relatively consistent, and while you may not be able to get a kitchen porter job at a particular restaurant, you can almost always find one in the city in which you live.
Kitchen Porter Facts
The main reason that kitchen porter jobs are expected to grow more than 20% over the next 8 years is due largely to the rebound of the restaurant and hospitality industry after the recent pandemic.
Jobs Related to Kitchen Porter
Briefly list and describe 3 jobs that are related to, or are similar to, this career field.
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- Commis Chef: The commis chef is the novice chef in the kitchen, and often the first promotion for someone starts as a kitchen porter.
- Sous Chef: The sous chef is one of the higher-ranking chefs in the kitchen and often assists the head chef with anything needed. They are the top assistant in the kitchen.
- Head Chef: The head chef is the top-ranking chef in the kitchen and is often responsible for hiring other chefs, as well as designing the menu.
Requirements, Skills, and Education Required for Kitchen Porters
Who Should Consider a Kitchen Porter Career Path?
Anyone hoping to get a start in the culinary or hospitality industry should consider becoming a kitchen porter
Who Should NOT Consider a Kitchen Porter Career Path?
People that should not become kitchen porters include those with difficulty standing and moving for long periods, and those who have trouble maintaining a clean and organized kitchen space.
Is it Hard to Become a Kitchen Porter?
Getting into the job isn’t considered to be overly difficult, although becoming a skilled kitchen porter can take considerable effort.
So, while it isn’t hard to become a kitchen porter, those lacking drive and motivation may find it considerably challenging to keep the job.
What Do I Need to Become a Kitchen Porter?
In most cases, you only need to apply to the venue with the open kitchen porter position.
They may want a resume, but this is often a formality for entry-level positions like kitchen porter.
Requirements for Becoming a Kitchen Porter
There are few requirements for becoming a kitchen porter other than being able to stand for long periods, being able to lift, and manipulate kitchen utensils, and is a clean and organized person.
What Skills Does a Kitchen Porter Need?
An ideal kitchen porter:
- I will be a fast learner and will have a passion for culinary work
- They will be able to stand and walk for long periods
- Will have a willingness and ability to maintain health and safety standards
- Will have solid organization skills
- Can work in a busy kitchen environment with minimal guidance
- Can remain cool and calm during periods of high stress and demanding conditions
- Has a high school diploma or equivalent, though it’s not strictly necessary
What Education Does a Kitchen Porter Need?
In most cases, becoming a kitchen porter only requires a high school diploma or equivalent.
There are a few circumstances where this entry-level position will require a college degree.
Can You Become a Kitchen Porter Without a Degree?
You can become a kitchen porter without any sort of advanced degree or higher learning credentials.
In many cases, there will be an extensive interview process that may even require a test shift, but it is not generally considered to be a difficult job to get into.
It is considered an entry-level job.
What Experience Does a Kitchen Porter Need?
Since a kitchen porter is considered an entry-level job, there are usually no requirements for the previous experience.
Training is generally on-the-job.
Kitchen Porter Education & Schooling
Kitchen Porter Education & Schooling
The kitchen porter education typically takes place on the job, and there are no formal courses for it in the US.
What is Taught in a Kitchen Porter Course?
When someone is learning to be a kitchen porter, they will be taught all skills needed by the kitchen staff and kitchen manager.
How Long Does a Kitchen Porter Course Take?
This depends on how quickly the kitchen porter learns, but typically most duties can be mastered in a few weeks.
Steps to Become a Kitchen Porter
Becoming a kitchen porter is relatively simple, and often only requires applying to an establishment with an opening.
What are common Kitchen Porter interview questions?
Common questions that come up in a kitchen porter interview are pretty standard for the culinary industry. These can include:
- How much experience do you have in a kitchen?
- What are your culinary career goals?
- Are you able to keep up with a fast-paced environment?
When it comes to getting your foot in the door in the culinary field, working as a kitchen porter is a great way to get started.
This entry-level position allows aspiring kitchen hands and chefs a way to learn about the inner workings of a kitchen without needing to spend a ton of time and money in college or culinary school.
Porters will be able to start out at the bottom by doing dishes, prep work, kitchen organization, and stocking.
When you work with a good chef, they may even decide to take you under their wing and teach you a thing or two about cooking as well.