Food service is a large industry that deals with the preparation and service of food outside the home. It is based on food and beverages that are consumed away from home, for reasons such as convenience, to try new flavors, or to celebrate and socialize. Companies that prepare food for service to others are known as food service operators, while companies that supply them are called food service distributors. The food service industry includes restaurants, school and hospital cafeterias, catering operations, and many other formats.
Some companies manufacture both consumer-grade and food-service products. The consumer version usually comes in individually sized packages with a label design made for retail sale, while the foodservice version is packaged in a much larger industrial size and often lacks the colorful label designs of the consumer version. The way food is prepared and served has evolved dramatically since the beginning of classic French cuisine in the 18th and 19th centuries. This helped bring food service to the modern era, where simplified processes and more specific menus allow food establishments to operate at higher volumes with faster service.
One of Escoffier's greatest contributions to the industry was his development and use of the brigade system, which simplified kitchen tasks and helped organize the flow of food that was cooked, served and served to guests. Today's food service industry provides 10% of the American workforce with the opportunity to feed others in a diverse and exciting industry. The demand for food prepared outside the home gives cooks and chefs the opportunity to develop an exciting career with limitless possibilities. Another aspect of the food service industry are companies that manufacture the equipment needed to produce, transport, store and serve food products.
A number of goods and services are included in the scope of food services, such as companies that transport food and related products, such as kitchen equipment, cutlery, etc.