Delicatessens -- also known as delis -- serve fresh, made-to-order food including sandwiches, baguettes, quiche, dips, pastries and a range of speciality meats. Delis are distinguished from sandwich shops and cafes because they usually make orders from scratch rather than buying in items such as dips, spreads and pies from external sources. The role of a deli assistant requires both people skills and the ability to prepare food to order, often under time constraints.
A deli assistant’s main role is to help prepare made-to-order food and drinks. Depending on the deli, an assistant may work as part of a team and be given a specific role to fill or be trusted to prepare any type of order as they come in. The type of dishes deli assistants are expected to prepare include sandwiches, baguettes, soups, salads, cheese boards and dip selections, including houmous and taramosalata.
Deli assistants should be capable of executing recipes swiftly and accurately. This work is required to a high standard, because customer expectations of food standards at a deli are typically higher than at a cafe or sandwich bar. The ability to arrange food neatly in display cabinets to attract customer interest is also crucial.
Health and safety
Food safety and hygiene play a vital role in the role of a deli assistant. Workspaces and cutlery items must be kept clean at all times and regularly sanitised. Ingredients must be stored at appropriate temperatures to ensure optimum freshness and food handling regulations must be strictly adhered to. These rules typically involve wearing gloves and hairnets to preserve the food from dirt and bacteria.
Payments and deliveries
A deli assistant is expected to accurately process cash and credit card payments and to move boxes on site when fresh deliveries arrive. These boxes will then need to be unpacked and stored in refrigerated units or cupboards, or tastefully arranged at the deli counter itself. Depending on the deli, an assistant may also help wash up or remove rubbish at the end of the shift.
A successful deli assistant should have excellent people skills and maintain a polite and pleasant manner, often under stressful conditions. Deli assistants not only work in close proximity with other staff members where clear communication and coordination of efforts is crucial, but will also be required to pacify agitated customers to avoid disturbing others and secure future business.