Food Service Specialists

Food Service Specialists

Every day, more than one million meals are prepared in military kitchens. Some kitchens prepare thousands of meals at one time, while others prepare food for small groups of people. Food service specialists prepare all types of food according to standard and dietetic recipes. They also order and inspect food supplies and prepare meats for cooking.

Job Details:

What They Do:

Food service specialists in the military perform some or all of the following duties:
  • Order, receive, and inspect meat, fish, fruit, and vegetables
  • Prepare standard cuts of meat using cleavers, knives, and bandsaws
  • Cook steaks, chops, and roasts
  • Bake or fry chicken, turkey, and fish
  • Prepare gravies and sauces
  • Bake breads, cakes, pies, and pastries
  • Serve food in dining halls, hospitals, field kitchens, or aboard ship Clean ovens, stoves, mixers, pots, and utensils

Physical Demands:

Food service specialists may have to lift and carry heavy containers of foodstuffs and large cooking utensils.

Training Provided:

Job training consists of 9 to 14 weeks of classroom instruction, including practice in food preparation. Training length varies depending on specialty. Further training occurs on the job and through advanced courses. Course content typically includes:
  • Standard and dietetic menus and recipes
  • Preparation and cooking of various foodstuffs and bakery products
  • Food and supply ordering
  • Storage of meats, poultry, and other perishable items


The services have about 28,000 food service specialists. Each year, they need new specialists due to changes in personnel and the demands of the field. After job training, food service specialists help prepare and serve food under close supervision. Some food service specialists specialize as bakers, cooks, butchers, or meat cutters. With experience, they work more independently and may train new food service specialists. Eventually, they may become head cooks, chefs, or food service supervisors.