This job is sometimes referred to by alternative titles
Kitchenhands wash dishes and clean the kitchen and serving areas in eating places. They may also help kitchen staff prepare food.
Kitchenhands usually earn
$15-$18 per hour
Source: Hospitality NZ, 2016
Pay for kitchenhands varies depending on experience, but most earn between $15-$18 an hour.
Source: Hospitality New Zealand, 2016
- Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment website - information about minimum pay rates
- MoreBusiness.com website - use this calculator to convert pay and salary information
(This information is a guide only. Find out more about the figures and diagrams in our job information)
What you will do
Kitchenhands may do some or all of the following:
- wash dishes and remove rubbish
- unload and put away food and other supplies
- clean all kitchen surfaces including the floors and equipment
- wash, peel, and chop vegetables
- prepare other food if needed.
Skills and knowledge
Kitchenhands need to have:
- knowledge of cleaning methods and chemicals
- knowledge of kitchen safety and food hygiene
- skill preparing food and using kitchen equipment.
- may work long hours that can include weekend, early morning and late night shifts
- work in kitchens in conditions that can be hot, noisy and stressful
- may travel to work at off-site functions.
What's the job really like?
Christine Hamilton helps out in the kitchen of a busy cafe from 9am to 3pm, two days a week, and occasionally on a Saturday. "It suits me fine because I help out voluntarily at the Citizens Advice Bureau on the other days, and work in a soup kitchen supplying people with tea, coffee, soup and muffins."
Being busy makes the time fly
"When I first get to work in the morning I start with washing all the baking equipment from the morning's shift, and there are already great big piles of dirty pots and dishes. After that the cafe dishes start coming in from breakfast, so then it gets really busy for a while and I'm also helping out with making paninis or toasted sandwiches and milkshakes.
"Sometimes if it's crowded in the shop I'll step out of the kitchen and help with serving the people out the front."
Good first step for a career in hospitality
"This job is a good starting point for learning about other jobs in hospitality, and there are always opportunities to move around. I've been lucky to learn a few baking tips from the cooks and chefs, which definitely keeps my husband happy – he gets to test them out when I get back home!"
There are no specific requirements to become a kitchenhand, as skills are gained on the job.
However, a National Certificate in Hospitality, such as the National Certificate in Hospitality (Level 2) may be useful, and offers a good introduction to the hospitality industry.
Kitchenhands need to be:
- organised, and able to work well in a team
- able to work well under pressure
- able to show initiative
- good at following instructions and paying attention to detail.
Useful work experience for kitchenhands includes work as a cleaner, food counter assistant, waiter/waitress, or any work dealing with food.
Kitchenhands need to be reasonably fit because they spend long periods on their feet and may have to carry heavy crates of food. Kitchenhands also need to be neat and tidy, with a high standard of personal cleanliness.
Find out more about training
- 0800 863 693 - firstname.lastname@example.org - www.serviceiq.org.nz
What are the chances of getting a job?
High turnover of kitchenhands
Vacancies arise often because most kitchenhands only do the job for a short time. Many people see the job as temporary, and positions are often filled by students who move on to other work, or travellers who are in the country for a limited time.
Holiday periods, such as Christmas/New Year and summer, are good times to find casual and part-time work.
Types of employers varied
Kitchenhands may work in:
- cafes and restaurants
- hotels, bars and pubs
- private households
- catering companies
- kitchens at schools, universities, hospitals, care homes and government buildings
- kitchens at private companies.
- Firth, D, Wellington regional manager, Hospitality NZ, Careers NZ interview, January 2016.
Progression and specialisations
A job as a kitchenhand is a good starting point for people wanting to work in hospitality. By doing further training, and gaining experience and on-the-job skills, kitchenhands can move on to become cooks or commis chefs.
It is also possible to move into other related areas, such as food service or bar work.
Last updated 2 February 2018