Individual restaurants and small establishments do not usually require the services of food and beverage managers. In contrast, larger organisations where food service and hospitality come into play may find it useful to hire one. A food and beverage manager's focus is largely administrative, but a solid culinary background is necessary for success.
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A food and beverage manager is usually part of a very large organisation, where the field of restaurant and hospitality is only one of its concerns. The two most common types of institutions large enough to require a food and beverage manager are hotels and country clubs. A food and beverage manager is a layer of management in between department heads within a food-service area (usually including the kitchen, the bar, and the dining room) and an institution's general management.
A food and beverage manager oversees the operations of the kitchen, bar and dining room at all times. When department heads (head chefs, head bartenders and maitres d'hotel es) have questions or problems, or need the approval of a higher authority, the food and beverage manager is responsible. Depending on an institution's hierarchical structure, a food and beverage manager may do all the hiring and firing across the food-service area. More commonly, she hires and fires department heads and allows those department heads autonomy to hire and fire their own staff.
Beyond hiring and firing, a food and beverage manager's principle function is to ensure a high profit margin for the business. In some institutions, a food and beverage manager may do cost analysis of necessary products for the kitchen and bar from different purveyors. In others, a food and beverage manager may rely on department heads to do costing and only insist on final approval before orders are placed. Because institutions requiring a food and beverage manager are often so busy, department heads may not have time to do adequate research to ensure that they are getting the best prices for ingredients and consumables. Food and beverage managers research and speak with purveyors constantly, always trying to get high quality at reasonable prices.
The food and beverage manager is the next rang up the ladder from the head chef, head bartender and maitre d'hotel. As such, if a problem in any of those departments escalates beyond what those department heads can handle, it falls under the purview of the food and beverage manager. This can include problems with purveyors, such as supplying incorrect amounts of an item, or even completely incorrect items altogether. Often, it includes delicate situations, such as placating VIPs who feel wronged by some aspect of food service. A food and beverage manager must have excellent people skills.
While some of the skills required of a food and beverage manager are basic business management skills, this particular management job is highly specific. It is exceedingly helpful for aspiring food and beverage management to have a solid background in either the culinary arts or baking and patisserie lines of culinary schooling. For this reason, many culinary schools offer food and beverage management degree programs as additional options after a hands-on culinary degree is obtained. Additional classes are usually required.
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