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Food Service Is a Family Matter, Manager Says

As Chuck Morales sees it, the food business is primarily a people business. That’s how he approaches his job as food service manager at the Western Digital and Motorola cafeterias.

Morales, 46, works for ARA Services, which provides food and catering services at corporate cafeterias and other institutions. He supervises a staff of 12.

“My job is to make sure the chemistry of the ‘family’ is correct and that everyone is making a team effort to provide good service,” said Morales, who arrives at 5:30 a.m. each day to help begin the day’s preparations.

For Morales, who owned his own pizza parlor for 18 years, being a food service manager has allowed him to remain in the business without the headaches of ownership. “I loved seeing everyone in my restaurant having a good time and watching the customers’ kids grow up and start bringing in their friends. Food and people go together,” Morales said. “But I also got tired of banging my head against the wall during a tough economy.”

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In 1993, Morales closed his restaurant and joined ARA. In addition to supervising the staff, he orders supplies and plans menus with the chef.

“In this job there is an interesting combination of food, people and technology,” Morales said. “I use a computer to track costs, plan recipes and keep track of inventory. It’s indispensable since we serve between 800 to a 1,000 meals a day and this requires careful planning.”

His future projects include adding rotisserie chicken and blended health drinks to the menu. “I think the drinks would be popular in the mornings and late afternoons when people need something healthy to keep their energy up.”

OCCUPATION: Food service manager

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* What’s involved: Supervising cafeteria and catering operations at company cafeterias, airports and institutions such as hospitals and schools; overseeing kitchen staff, food servers and cashiers; ordering supplies and conducting menu-planning sessions with cooks and chefs.

* Qualifications: Most have culinary school or restaurant background.

* Outlook: By 1998, the number of food service managers in the county is expected to increase 10.6% to 2,500.

* Salary range: $30,000-$45,000 per year.

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* Pros: Working in a people-oriented environment and responsibility for motivating staff to provide good service and food. Managers are the official point of contact with customers and often work to incorporate their suggestions into the menu.

* Cons: Beginning work as early as 5:30 a.m.

* Advancement: May advance to regional or area manager, in charge of several operations. Administrative options include research and development and marketing positions.

* Quote: “My job requires a fluid management style and the ability to respond quickly to a variety of situations.” --Chuck Morales, ARA Services

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Researched by JANICE L. JONES / Los Angeles Times


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