Careers in food service management

Food service management, also known as contract catering, is the outsourcing of food services to other organisations, such as schools, banks or museums. The industry currently employs around 377,200 people in the UK and traditionally the industry has provided food and drink, but some providers are offering wider facilities management including housekeeping services.

If you have a passion for food and want a varied working life, this could be the industry for you. You could be working within a museum designing menus for its guests, or working in a bank preparing lunches in the staff restaurant. Each organisation and its requirements are different, so you are bound to find an environment perfect for your aspirations. 

Food service contracts are usually awarded through a tendering or procurement process and the staff are employed by the contractor. You will be based with the client company and working in, or managing, the restaurant on their behalf. For example, a bank will appoint a food service contractor i.e BaxterStorey, and BaxterStorey will have its own staff to provide the food service to the bank.

This industry tends to have traditional working hours – for a business or industry contract, it will typically be 9 to 5, five days a week, plus the occasional weekend or evening for functions. Hours in the education sector can be even shorter.

Food service management providers tend to operate in the following areas:
• Travel
• Business
• Retail
• Education
• Health care
• Remote and offshore locations
• Corporate hospitality and executive dining
• Government and local authority provision
• Leisure venues and events (including concerts, regattas, sporting events as well as weddings and parties)

The industry is made up of some very large companies, such as Compass Group, Sodexo and Aramark and some medium-sized companies such as BaxterStorey. It also has a large number of small independent caterers who provide catering for local businesses and events. So whatever you’re seeking from a working environment, you’ll find it within food service management.