Kitchen porters carry out cleaning, pot washing and food preparation tasks in professional kitchens.
They keep equipment and cutlery clean and provide chefs with the tools they need to run their kitchen efficiently.
This complete guide includes a full kitchen porter job description and covers all the key information about kitchen porters, such as typical earnings, job requirements, opportunities for progression and more.
- Kitchen porter job description
- How much do kitchen porters earn?
- What does a kitchen porter do?
- Requirements, skills and qualifications
- Who employs kitchen porters?
- Which junior jobs progress to kitchen porter roles?
Kitchen porter job description
Kitchen porter | The White Lion Pub
About The White Lion Pub
We are a warm, welcoming and award-winning local pub offering honest, home-cooked pub food and a fantastic menu packed with fresh, seasonal pub favourites.
About the role
We’re looking for a hardworking kitchen porter to support our kitchen team. Reporting to the sous chef, you’ll work to maintain a clean and hygienic environment and help with ad-hoc food preparation tasks.
- Ensuring that high standards of cleanliness and maintenance of the kitchen areas and equipment are kept throughout service
- Collecting and washing up dirty pots and pans
- Keeping work surfaces, walls and floors clean and sanitised at all times
- Ensuring that crockery, cutlery and equipment are clean and ready for service
- Helping with basic food preparation and cooking tasks when required
- Managing the emptying of bins, waste and recycling in the kitchen
- Carrying weekly and monthly deep cleaning duties in line with company guidelines
Location & commitments
- Full-time, permanent role — 40 hours per week with occasional overtime
- Must be prepared to work a variety of weekday evening, weekend and bank holiday shifts
- Strong work ethic — comfortable working in a humid, fast-paced environment
- Great team player — happy to muck in and help others out
- Good level of spoken and written English
- Interested in pursuing a long-term career within hospitality
- GCSEs in English and Maths
- Previous experience of working in a kitchen
- Food hygiene trained
Contact us to apply
Apply today by sending a full CV and cover letter to our head chef, Bob Smith, on firstname.lastname@example.org. Make sure to let us know why you want the job and what makes you a good fit for our team!
How much do kitchen porters earn?
A kitchen porter job is an entry-level role which is reflected in the average UK salary of £18,579.
Kitchen porter salaries in the UK
- Low: £16,622
- Average: £18,579
- High: £23,000
Kitchen porter salaries will vary hugely depending on:
- The type of establishment – Generally speaking, higher-end, more luxurious and reputable establishments pay higher rates
- The location – Establishments in London and the major cities often offer higher wages
- The level of experience – More experienced kitchen porters may be able to negotiate a higher hourly rate
For example, a kitchen porter working for a Michelin-starred restaurant in London is likely to earn more than a kitchen porter working for a small, local pub outside of the capital. Additionally, a kitchen porter with 2 years experience may be offered a slightly higher hourly rate than a new starter.
The average figures are taken from job advert samples and therefore do not include extra benefits such as tips and overtime.
What does a kitchen porter do?
The typical job description of a kitchen porter includes the following key duties, tasks and responsibilities:
- Washing up – Washing pots, plates, crockery, utensils and other kitchenware
- Dealing with deliveries – Unloading deliveries and unpacking/sorting food and equipment
- Disinfecting surfaces – Thoroughly cleaning and disinfecting all appliances and work surfaces
- Sweeping and mopping – Keeping floors clean and hygienic throughout service by sweeping and mopping all areas
- Storing food – Storing food and ingredients in a safe and organised way, so that all ingredients are easy to find
- Collecting ingredients – Collecting materials and ingredients for chefs when instructed
- Removing waste – Removing waste from the kitchen, emptying rubbish bins and sorting out recycling
- Supporting chefs – Assisting chefs with ad-hoc tasks as required to alleviate pressure at peak times
- Cleaning cooking equipment – Cleaning and maintaining cooking tools and equipment such as ovens, griddles and hobs
- Cleaning up after service – Carrying out a thorough clean and tidy after each service to ensure that the kitchen is ready for the next shift
- Preparing food – Assisting with basic food preparation, such as washing, peeling and chopping vegetables
What do kitchen porters need?
Kitchen porter roles are generally entry-level, with minimal qualifications and experience required.
With that said, employers will still be on the lookout for certain soft skills and personal attributes. Additionally, there are a few qualifications and certifications that can certainly help kitchen porters to land roles and progress within the industry at a faster rate.
So, let’s take a closer look at what’s needed:
Kitchen porter roles are entry-level and normally open to candidates with no prior experience. This makes the role a great option for school leavers looking to kickstart a career in the hospitality or catering industry.
While it’s more than possible to land a kitchen porter role without it, employers will still value any relevant previous experience. This might be pot washing, cleaning or any other hospitality or kitchen based work, even if it was casual or temporary. If competition for a certain role is high, having this experience can certainly give candidates a competitive advantage during the recruitment process.
Kitchen porter skills
Even though it’s a junior role, employers will still seek the following skills and attributes in their kitchen porters:
- Verbal communication: Possessing a good command of basic English in order to communicate with chefs and colleagues
- Following instructions: Listening diligently to chefs and colleagues and following their instructions and demands
- Attention to detail: Ensuring that everything is washed thoroughly and that every inch of the kitchen is clean and hygienic
- Physical stamina: Carrying out long shifts on foot, unloading deliveries and carrying heavy boxes
- Working under pressure: Remaining patient, calm and cool-headed whilst working in a stressful, fast-paced environment
- Working as a team: Working well as a part of a team and mucking in wherever needed
- Food hygiene & safety: Understanding how to handle and store food in a safe and hygienic manner — training for this is often provided on the job
Kitchen porter qualifications
Qualifications are not essential to work as a kitchen porter. Some higher-end establishments may ask for GCSE qualifications in English and Maths at grade A*-E/9 to 2 — though for the most part, they aren’t deemed essential. For this reason, it’s a great opportunity for those with minimal qualifications who are happy to work hard to climb up the ladder!
There are a few qualifications that aspiring or established kitchen porters can take to boost their performance in the role and become better-qualified for future progression opportunities and promotions. These include:
Level 2 Food Hygiene Certificate
As kitchen porters often help with basic food preparation tasks, employers have to provide food hygiene training by law.
The Level 2 Food Hygiene Certificate course teaches the best practices in food storage and preparation, personal hygiene measures, premises cleaning and food safety hazards.
Most employers will provide or sponsor full training, though the qualification can be taken independently, too. Here are a few popular training providers:
- Food Safety & Hygiene Level 2 Course For Catering: High Speed Training
- Food Safety / Food Hygiene Level 2: The Training Terminal
- Level 2 Food Safety Training For Caterers: NCASS
Certificate in Food Preparation and Cooking
Gaining a work-based food preparation and cooking certificate can be a great way for kitchen porters to boost their kitchen skills and knowledge.
These qualifications cover all the need-to-know elements of safe food preparation and basic cooking techniques, allowing kitchen porters to increase their responsibilities and eventually progress into commis chef and junior chef roles.
The qualifications are available at 3 levels, with level 1 or 2 generally being the most suitable for inexperienced kitchen porters:
- Level 1 Certificate in Food Preparation and Cooking: For those looking to work in food preparation or have just started out.
- Level 2 Diploma in Food Preparation and Cooking (Culinary Arts): For those that have some relevant knowledge of basic cooking principles and skills
Certificate in Hospitality and Catering Principles
For those who aren’t sure which direction they’d like to take within hospitality, the hospitality and catering principles certificate could be a better option.
These qualifications cover topics such as food safety, working well as a team, preparing and cooking food, and health, safety and security in the hospitality environment. The skills learnt can be applied to a variety of roles, whether that’s in the kitchen, working front-of-house or (eventually) moving into management.
The Level 2 hospitality and catering principles certificate is most suitable for entry-level applicants.
First aid certificate
While working in a kitchen is a relatively safe job, there is a small risk of burns and cuts from cooking tools. For this reason, gaining a basic first aid certificate can be highly advantageous. Some employers will sponsor training on-the-job, though taking a course independently before applying for kitchen porter roles can be a great CV boost.
What is expected of kitchen porters?
Kitchen porters will typically be expected to commit to the following:
- Full or part-time hours – Roles are available on a wide range of contracts, ranging from casual weekend jobs to full-time (35 – 40+ hours per week) permanent roles
- Long hours – Shifts tend to be long, ranging from 8-12 hours — and employers may often ask for overtime
- Unsociable hours – Evening, weekend and bank holiday work are more common than not
- Physically demanding work – Working in a commercial kitchen can be hot, stuffy and tiring
- Uniform – Kitchen porters are usually, though not always, provided with a uniform
- Location – Normally based at a single establishment, such as a hotel or restaurant
Kitchen porter benefits
As the role of a kitchen porter is generally entry-level, benefits packages aren’t likely to be extensive. However, permanent, full-time employees can expect the following:
- Tips — some establishments share the front-of-house tips out between employees
- Pension scheme
- Holiday allowance
- Free meals & drinks on shift
Those working on a casual or temporary basis may not receive any benefits, aside from tips and free meals/drinks. Part-time employees will receive holiday pay and pension contributions on a pro-rata basis.
Who employs kitchen porters?
Kitchen porters work in any establishment with a professional or commercial kitchen, such as restaurants, hotels, cafes, pubs, schools and hospitals.
Kitchen porter roles are widely available across the country, from high-end city restaurants to local pubs in rural areas. Employment is available in both the private (restaurants, pubs and cafes) and public (schools, universities, hospitals) sectors.
Typical kitchen porter employers include:
- Privately-owned restaurants
- Chain restaurants
- Pubs and gastropubs
- Hotel kitchens
- Holiday resorts
- Private households
- Contract catering companies
- Cruise ships
- The armed forces
- Schools and universities
- The NHS
The hospitality industry is the UK’s third largest private sector employer and employs a whopping 3.2 million people across the country. With the industry aiming to create tens of thousands of new roles in the coming years, it’s definitely a safe and secure industry to start a career in.
Which junior jobs progress to kitchen porter roles?
Kitchen porter roles are junior jobs in themselves. It’s easy to gain a kitchen porter role with no prior experience whatsoever, as long as the candidate is willing to work hard and commit to the role.
However, some people do enter the role with some prior experience in hospitality, such as work experience as a pot washer, waiter/waitress or cleaner.
Which senior jobs do kitchen porters progress to?
Many successful chefs have started their career as a kitchen porter and worked their way up the ranks, acquiring skills and qualifications as they go.
As the role requires no prior training, experience or qualifications, it makes for a fantastic opportunity to learn the tricks of the trade and kickstart a rewarding hospitality or culinary career.
With a couple of years of experience and hard graft, kitchen porters can eventually work their way into the roles of:
Commis chefs are chefs-in-training, working under the close supervision of trained chefs to learn the basics of cooking. The role involves rotating through various kitchen stations (vegetables, fish etc) to learn basic food preparation work and cooking techniques. Hardworking kitchen porters often move into this role after gaining one to two years of kitchen experience.
Chef-de-parties work on an individual station in a professional kitchen. There are normally several per kitchen, especially in larger establishments. This is the first chance for a chef to work without direct supervision and can be achieved after gaining around 2–4 years of experience as a commis chef.
Sous chefs work second in command to the head chef. As well as preparing and cooking food, they assist with creating menus, negotiating with suppliers and managing the kitchen staff. Due to the management and leadership skills gained, sous chefs make great candidates for head chef jobs after a few years of experience.
Head chefs lead an entire kitchen; creating a vision and brand for the establishment, strictly monitoring quality, managing the whole team and delegating tasks appropriately. It can be a stressful job, but for those with a passion for cooking, it’s the pinnacle of a culinary career. While it will take years of hard work (and possibly some study) for a kitchen porter to reach this point, it’s definitely achievable.
Kitchen porter job description – conclusion
A job as a kitchen porter is low-paid and can be physically demanding and stressful.
However, because the role has low entry requirements but fantastic career progression potential, it actually makes for a great opportunity.
Kitchen porter jobs are available across the country and, ultimately, can act as a great kick-starter for a successful culinary, catering or hospitality career.