What does a Food Runner Do?

Duty of a food runner
A food runner helps serve food in busy restaurants. Take cue from the Buzzle article below; it will help you know about the job of a food runner.
"Food runners need to be able to hold at least three plates at once. They also need to know all the ingredients in every dish just in case someone has an allergy. Also, they're like the chef's second set of eyes, so paying close attention to the plating is important. If an ingredient or something is missing from the dish or doesn't appear right, then you can ask the chef if everything looks alright."
― David Blaine, Food Runner, Downtown NYC
You must be familiar with the string of vocabulary that caters to the innovative industry of food and hospitality - hotel manager, guest executive, concierge, maître, waiter, chef, etc. Have you heard of a food runner, though? What does a food runner do? Normally, if people are familiar with this term, they probably assume him to be one of the waiters. But he is not exactly a waiter; he is more like an assistant to the waiter, chef, manager - you name them all. He has his hands full the entire day, especially at very busy restaurants, since his work is very physically demanding. This is one of the reasons he is called a 'food runner'. The paragraphs below will elaborate further on this topic.

Job Description

  • There are a multitude of food runner responsibilities you may not even be aware of.
  • Point one, he is basically called a food runner because he literally 'runs' to serve food to the tables.
  • But that is not all, as mentioned earlier, he functions as the right-hand man for everyone.
  • With regards to the serving part, he has to run and serve food at all tables.
  • He is obligated to be polite and ask for refills, napkins, side dishes (sauces, dips, etc.), water, etc.
  • He has to check the food as well as the plating style, and if anything is amiss, he needs to inform the chef so that changes can be made immediately.
  • He needs to prepare soups and salads and other entrées, when required.
  • He must replenish the dishes and glasses, as well as take additional orders.
  • While taking different orders (or tickets, as they are called), he is supposed to deliver the right order in the kitchen, i.e., he shouldn't get confused regarding what needs to be delivered where.
  • He should have an accurate sense of how long it would take for a particular dish to get cooked, so that he can deliver the dish promptly.
  • He must ensure that the drinks and appetizers are served first, followed by the main course and then desserts.
  • He needs to clear as well as clean the table after the customers have left, transport soiled dishes to the kitchen, and rearrange the table for the next customer.
  • His job duties also include welcoming the customers and directing them to the table.
  • He is also responsible for washing the dishes and cutlery.
  • He needs to ensure that the finesse of the dish is perfect - garnishing with celery, cream, sauce, etc.
  • He needs to describe the dishes to the customer if he is unaware of them, and also take note of their feedback and complaints.
  • He is responsible for cleaning up the kitchen, disposing the wasted food, and preparing the kitchen for the next day.

Requirements

  • Physical Strength
  • Presence of mind
  • Attention to detail
  • Extreme efficiency
  • Ability to work under pressure
  • Clean and hygienic
  • Polite and courteous
  • Chivalry
  • Excellent communication and interpersonal skills
  • Positive attitude (no complaints)
  • Team player

Educational Qualifications

  • No mandatory college degree is required for this profession. A post-secondary education level will suffice.
  • You will need to have passed high school from a good institute with decent grades.
  • This job is somewhat along the lines of an entry-level position, which will help you determine whether you want to carve out a career in the food industry or no.
  • A college degree in hotel management will help you get this job too, but hotel management graduates are capable of getting slightly higher-level jobs with more requirements.
  • You could however, try this designation as a summer job so that you gain experience as well as come to know the dos and don'ts of the food industry.
  • There are may accredited institutes that offer certifications to become a food runner.

Salary

  • The salary of a food runner is not fixed, it varies from one restaurant to the other.
  • Your employer may decide how much to pay you, depending on the work you do.
  • Mostly, you will be paid a minimum wage, at least in the beginning, and then as you work better, your wage may be increased.
  • This is completely at the employer's discretion. Also, you may be paid hourly, not monthly.
  • The vital point to be remembered here is the food runner tips.
  • Therefore, the better you serve, the better you behave, the more work you do, the better your tips will be.
  • Be sure to be polite and serve the customer to his satisfaction.

Work Environment

  • Without mincing words, straight and outright - your work environment is going to be hectic. And hectic in bold capitals, please.
  • You are going to be running around the restaurant from the kitchen to the tables to the restaurant entry door and back to the kitchen sink, like you have a bee in your bonnet.
  • You will be carrying 2 to 3 plates of food at a time, to be delivered to different tables. So, you need to be strong and know how to balance (yeah, I know it is not a circus, but you still need to know the balance).
  • You will be running around in the hot, stuffy kitchen, delivering and removing plates and cutlery.
  • Some spaces outside the kitchen may be really cramped and uncomfortable, you have to put up with that.
  • You cannot afford to upset your mood and let your face reflect it. You are going to have to put a smiling face for the customers, even if you are fuming inside.
  • You need to listen to customer complaints, describe the same dish to 10 different people, and carry soiled dishes, clean tables, etc., implying that you need a tremendous amount of patience.
  • You also may have to put up with irritated waiters, tired cooks, and perhaps an impatient manager. You have to learn to compromise on all this, and exude an air of confidence that says, 'Do not worry, I am here, I'll manage everything.'.
  • Summarizing in one word, your job may be harassing for you. If however, you are highly interested in the food business and intend to go further, you might look at all this as a learning experience, which is how it should be.

Resume Sample

While applying for jobs, you need a good biodata with references. A food runner resume sample is provided below.

JANET FERNANDEZ
24, M Street, Rock Ave,
NYC, New York
Ph: 555-555-555
Email: janet_f@gmail.com
OBJECTIVE
To attain the position of a food runner with the Royal Heritage Restaurant and use interpersonal and hospitality skills to catapult the customer service to great heights.
PROFESSIONAL SKILLS
  • Good knowledge about chosen food preparations.
  • Known for excellent finishing touches.
  • Extreme patience in dealing with customers.
  • A good record of courteous professional mannerisms.
  • Good understanding of the working of buffets in large parties.
  • Can handle stress easily.
  • Ability to coordinate and multitask.
WORK EXPERIENCE
ABC Group of Hotels
Designation: Food Server
Duration: January 2014 - Present
Job Duties:
  • Served multiple orders at various tables.
  • Prepared salads and dips.
  • Cleared and cleaned tables.
  • Replenished food dishes and wine glasses.
  • Reset the table with appropriate silverware and other embellishments.
The Caroma Restaurant
Designation: Assistant to the Maître
Duration: August 2013 - December 2013
Job Duties:
  • Greeted customers politely and led them away from the waiting area.
  • Entertained and kept them engaged while they had to wait for tables.
  • Escorted them to their table.
  • Asked them for additional orders and side dishes.
  • Made sure that the dishes were served appropriately within the shortest duration and at the right temperature.
  • Noted customers' feedback and complaints.
  • Thanked them and requested them to visit again.
  • Established communication between the customers and the main server.
  • Made sure the seating was appropriate.
EDUCATION
High School Diploma, Campbell High School, NYC.
ADDITIONAL SKILLS
  • Extremely polite
  • Highly punctual
  • Good interpersonal skills
  • Fluent in English and French
  • Excellent attention to detail

As mentioned in the earlier paragraphs, this job is more of a learning experience. If you like the fast pace and work, nothing like it, of course. You have to have all the requirements, like patience, hard work, etc., though. Sorry to have burst your bubble if you thought the food industry was solely glamorous and interesting (it is, certainly), because it involves a tremendous amount of hard work. If you wish to enter this industry, apply as a food runner in small cafés and busy restaurants. Gain some experience under your belt and then take a big leap. Good luck!