No dishonor to work in the collective catering. The requirements of a central kitchen are the same as those of a restaurant: the quality of the meals served and the satisfaction of the guests. On the other hand, in terms of production and workforce, the differences are significant! From cooks to logistics managers to dieticians, Patrice Jenta, director of the Sodexo central kitchen in Marseille, manages a hundred people. “We prepare nearly 30,000 meals every day for elementary schools under a public service delegation contract with the City ,” he explains. A figure much higher than the average of the central kitchens which is rather from 4,000 to 6,000 meals a day. “
An outstanding manager
Management and team management are the leitmotifs of the director of a central kitchen. “You have to be able to take a step back from everyday life to anticipate activity,” says Patrice Jenta. I intervene, upstream, during the definition of the main strategic orientations, and downstream, during the final validation, although of course I can also accompany the teams in their work. ” Administrative and financial management, recruitment, involvement in the development of menus …” In the same day, I manage a lot of different tasks: I go from one folder to another, from my office to the kitchen, without count the trips outside. “
The director of a central kitchen can work in the public service, serving local authorities, or in the private sector, with a provider (which provides schools or hospitals) or directly with a private operator (who cooks for several corporate restaurants, for example). The principle is the same everywhere: the production is cooled before being delivered to the different sites where the meals will be warmed and proportioned. The challenge is to produce in large quantities but with the same quality and cost requirements. “In the private sector, you will also find a dimension of business relationship that you do not have in the public,” says Patrice Jenta, whose duties include prospecting new customers.
Sensitivity to products is paramount, the nutritional balance being also one of the main challenges of the function, especially in the development of menus for schools (educational mission, taking into account allergies …) and hospitals ( specific schemes).
It is better not to fear responsibilities and initiatives. “We must also know how to show strength and support teams in case of problems,” says Patrice Jenta. In fact, the director must ensure that the highest standards of hygiene and food safety are respected, the slightest error that can have serious consequences for public health.
According to his experience, the seniority in the company and the size of the central kitchen, a director earns about 3,000 to 4,500 euros gross per month. In the public service, the remuneration will depend on the salary scale in force according to the statute.
The central kitchen manager position is generally accessible to experienced +2 bachelors.
– Private sector: after training in the hotel and restaurant industry, internal evolution can lead to this function, usually after management training. For graduates in management or commerce, experience in the restaurant sector is required.
– Public service: you must pass the competition to access the position of “Director of the collective catering”, also called: “responsible for the collective catering”, “director of collective catering management” or “manager of the collective catering “.
The small central kitchen manager can evolve into more and more important kitchens. Subsequently, he will take on more general management and higher responsibilities: purchasing director, sales manager, marketing director, regional director …