What is a purchasing coordinator?

A restaurant or food industry purchasing coordinator plays an important role in ensuring the seamless supply of ingredients, goods, and equipment necessary for the daily operations of a restaurant, production kitchen, or other food industry business or company. This position involves managing relationships with suppliers, negotiating contracts, and monitoring inventory levels to maintain a well-stocked and cost-effective kitchen.

The purchasing coordinator is responsible for researching and selecting suppliers, considering quality, price, and reliability. They work closely with chefs and kitchen staff to understand the specific needs of the establishment and ensure that the ingredients meet the required standards. Additionally, the coordinator must stay informed about market trends, pricing fluctuations, and new products to make informed purchasing decisions.

Negotiation skills are paramount in this role, as purchasing coordinators strive to secure the best deals without compromising on quality. They often collaborate with vendors to establish favorable terms, track deliveries, and resolve any issues that may arise. Attention to detail is crucial to managing orders, invoices, and inventory levels. It’s a dynamic role that requires adaptability and a passion for ensuring the highest quality ingredients reach the kitchen while optimizing costs.

What does a purchasing coordinator do?

A purchasing coordinator can be found at the heart of the culinary business, playing a key role in managing the supply chain and ensuring the kitchen operates smoothly. Your primary responsibility will involve working with suppliers and vendors, conducting market research, and negotiating contracts to secure the best deals on ingredients, equipment, and other essential items.

You’ll collaborate closely with chefs and kitchen staff to understand their needs, ensuring that the products you source meet the highest quality standards. Attention to detail is important as you’ll be managing orders, tracking deliveries, and monitoring inventory levels to prevent shortages or overstock situations.

Staying informed about market trends, pricing fluctuations, and new products is crucial to making informed purchasing decisions. Negotiation skills are necessary as you work to establish favorable terms with suppliers, aiming to balance quality with cost-effectiveness. Problem-solving will be part of your daily routine, addressing any issues that may arise with deliveries or discrepancies in orders.

How do you become a purchasing coordinator?

A purchasing coordinator in the food industry is more involved with the business side of things, but having some knowledge of the culinary arts will give you the skills to balance both sides of the coin. A well-rounded education will serve you well. Start by obtaining a relevant degree in business, supply chain management, or a related field.

While not always mandatory, having an educational background in these areas can give you a competitive edge. Seek internships or entry-level positions in the food industry to gain a more hands-on education. Understanding the dynamics of restaurant operations and supply chains will be invaluable. You will also learn about the foods you’re buying, looking for the perfect combination of quality and price.

As a purchasing coordinator, negotiation is a key skill. Hone your ability to strike favorable deals by practicing negotiation techniques and staying updated on market trends. You can help yourself by establishing connections within the industry. You don’t want to be too pushy, but you don’t want to be taken advantage of either–this comes with experience.

Keep yourself informed about the latest trends, pricing fluctuations, and innovations in the food industry. Familiarize yourself with relevant supply chain management software. Many companies use technology to streamline procurement processes, and being tech-savvy will be an advantage.

Additional Information

While a formal degree is not always a strict requirement to become a restaurant or food industry purchasing coordinator, having an educational background can significantly enhance your prospects in this field. Because this is more of a business role, rather than a creative one, many employers may prefer candidates with a bachelor’s degree in business, supply chain management, or a related discipline.

These educational paths provide a foundational understanding of business operations, negotiation strategies, and supply chain logistics. But it’s not the only way to learn the job. Practical experience and relevant skills often weigh heavily in the hiring process. Gaining hands-on experience through internships, entry-level positions, or apprenticeships within the food industry can be equally valuable.

This experience allows you to understand the nuances of restaurant operations, supplier relationships, and the intricacies of procurement. Being on the ground, working with vendors and suppliers, and understanding what the chef and kitchen staff need can only be done while on the job. So while a degree can open doors and provide a solid foundation, a combination of education and practical experience are required to be a restaurant or food industry purchasing coordinator.

To excel as a restaurant or food industry purchasing coordinator, a diverse set of skills is essential. For starters, the ability to negotiate favorable terms with suppliers is a cornerstone of this role, so you’ll need to develop strong negotiation skills to ensure cost-effective procurement without quality suffering.

This means clear and effective communication, collaborating with kitchen staff, and addressing any issues that may arise. Strong interpersonal skills contribute to building lasting relationships. The food industry is dynamic, and the ability to adapt to changes in market conditions, supplier availability, and customer preferences is important.

Coordinating various aspects of the supply chain requires strong organizational skills: managing contracts, invoices, and inventory efficiently contributes to the overall efficiency of the procurement process. Attention to detail ensures that the kitchen remains well-stocked without unnecessary waste.

You’ll analyze market trends, pricing fluctuations, and supplier performance, so a more technical mindset helps in making informed decisions to optimize procurement processes. Staying informed about the food industry, including market trends and new products, is vital. A solid understanding of the industry landscape sharpens your ability to make purchasing decisions.

While not always mandatory, pursuing a relevant degree in business, supply chain management, or a related field will give you the technical knowledge you’ll need to be a purchasing coordinator. This formal education provides a foundational understanding of key principles that will be valuable in your role. But you’ll need to put what you’ve learned into practical use to truly understand your role.

Seek internships, entry-level positions, or apprenticeships within the food industry. The real-world experience exposes you to the day-to-day operations, relationships, and procurement processes essential for success. Connect with professionals already working in purchasing or supply chain roles to get the insider’s view of the job.

Regularly read industry publications, attend seminars, and participate in webinars to stay abreast of market trends, pricing fluctuations, and emerging products. Once employed in the industry, familiarize yourself with the specific processes and software tools used by your employer. Understanding internal systems is crucial for efficient coordination and communication.

The timeline to become a restaurant or food industry purchasing coordinator can vary based on individual circumstances and career paths. Typically, the journey involves a combination of education, gaining practical experience, and developing essential skills. Obtaining a relevant degree in business, supply chain management, or a related field generally takes between two and four years.

Securing internships or entry-level positions in the food industry is the next step. This practical experience can take anywhere from several months to a few years, depending on the opportunities available to you and your drive and determination to learn. Developing the necessary skills, such as negotiation, communication, and attention to detail, is an ongoing process.

This may involve participating in training programs, attending workshops, and gaining hands-on experience in a professional setting. Building a professional network with suppliers and vendors is an ongoing process and will be done in conjunction with other learning opportunities. The timeline to become a purchasing coordinator in the food industry can be several years, at least on a larger stage. It’s important to stay proactive, continuously learn, and adapt to industry changes.

A purchasing coordinator and a food and beverage director will often work together in some settings but have two distinct roles. A purchasing coordinator primarily focuses on the procurement of goods, ingredients, and equipment. They manage relationships with suppliers, negotiate contracts, and ensure timely deliveries. A food and beverage director oversees the entire food and beverage operation, including menu planning, staffing, customer service, and financial performance.

So while purchasing coordinators make decisions related to sourcing and procurement, food and beverage directors operate at a higher level, making strategic decisions that impact the overall dining experience. This includes setting menu prices, creating promotions, and developing long-term business strategies. Both roles require effective collaboration with various stakeholders.

Purchasing coordinators work closely with suppliers and internal teams like chefs, ensuring a seamless supply chain. Food and beverage directors collaborate with kitchen staff, front-of-house teams, and management to achieve excellent operation. Purchasing coordinators aim to secure cost-effective deals, optimizing expenses without compromising quality. Food and beverage directors manage budgets (including that of the purchasing coordinator), monitor costs, and implement strategies to maximize profitability.

The gear for a restaurant or food industry purchasing coordinator extends beyond physical tools to include technology, communication resources, and negotiation skills. An integral part of the modern purchasing coordinator’s toolkit is a computer equipped with relevant software like inventory management systems, procurement software, and spreadsheet applications to help streamline ordering, track deliveries, and manage supplier relationships efficiently.

With the collaborative nature of the role, effective communication tools are essential. This includes email platforms, messaging apps, and possibly communication software the organization uses to coordinate with internal teams and external suppliers. Obviously, on-the-go accessibility is important for a purchasing coordinator who may need to address issues or track deliveries outside of the office. A reliable smartphone or tablet with necessary applications ensures constant connectivity.

Staying informed about market trends, pricing, and new products requires access to various market research resources. Subscriptions to industry publications, online databases, and reports contribute to informed decision-making. Then there are the physical office supplies needed for day-to-day tasks, such as notebooks, pens, and organizational tools that help in maintaining accurate records.

The salary of a purchasing coordinator in the restaurant and food industries can vary based on factors such as experience, location, the size of the establishment, and the specific industry. On average, the annual salary for a purchasing coordinator ranges from $45,000 to $65,000.

Entry-level positions may start at the lower end of the scale, while those with significant experience, advanced degrees, or working in high-end establishments may command higher salaries. Additionally, geographical location plays a role, as salaries tend to be higher in metropolitan areas with a higher cost of living.

Bonuses, benefits, and profit-sharing arrangements are not uncommon in this field and can contribute significantly to the overall compensation package. Furthermore, the demand for skilled purchasing coordinators in the food industry may influence salary levels. It’s important to note that these figures are approximate and subject to change based on economic conditions and industry trends.

Start your culinary journey and become the chef you’ve dreamed of!

You will be mentored by an expert chef and gain real-world experience in an actual kitchen. Professional chefs have never been in such high demand and our job placement is unmatched in the industry.

Get Started

All Job Opportunities

Working in the culinary arts offers the joy of creativity, allowing you to express yourself through food, experiment with flavors, and continuously innovate.

CASA Culinary School Reviews

Learning how restaurant kitchen works is sometimes good but can be busy, like super busy. I’ve learned as much as I could from my mentor and working in the kitchen of Carnivale Chicago, even though I actually do not work there because I was a CASA student. Working with my academic facilitator is very good and very helpful when it comes to tutoring sessions. It is a shame though that CASA Chicago school is not here anymore.

~ Vince Morales

I chose CASA because of the teachers. I felt like I could learn a lot from them, about their careers and their different techniques, and it would bring out the best in me. Also, CASA’s program is accelerated, so you’re learning at a quicker rate, and able to start your cooking career sooner. Location-wise, the restaurant that CASA placed me in was ideal—not only was it a great learning environment, but it was also near my home.

~ Brian Patterson

A gourmet meal

I truly feel that I made the best choice by attending CASA. Because of the program’s ties to the best dining establishments, I have been able to learn from the best in the business. From the program, I was able to apprentice at a Michelin-starred restaurant. Because of the opportunity, I was also offered a job at this Michelin-starred restaurant soon after. None of this would have been possible without CASA. This revolutionary program gave me a solid foundation that is already leading to a very bright culinary future.

~ Ashley Torrijos

Braised lamb

CASA has allowed me to learn more about restaurant operations by connecting me with Melisse, one of the best restaurants in Southern California. The time I spent there has allowed me to grow as a chef, and the experience is invaluable for my future culinary career.

~ Frank Ahn

Raw steak and shrimp on plate prepped for cooking

CASA is more than helping me live out my dreams. You’re doing the actual work and the transition right into the restaurant business is so smooth. There are no shocks when you go out into the real world.

~ Ron Dettman


When I decided to switch careers, I spoke with CASA’s Chef Gilligan who asked me what kind of cooking I wanted to do and the direction I wanted to go. He paired me up with two different chefs who helped me achieve success. I want to create something that other people will enjoy, and when I look out of the kitchen doors and see people smiling and eating the food that I’ve made, that makes me really happy. Also, the chefs I worked with gave me a lot of flexibility with my work schedule.

~ Jayson Larson

Thai food restaurant kitchen in action

I love my job and my career path I chose and I want to give a BIG THANKS to you and the whole school for changing my life and letting me achieve what I want to do at a young age. It has been a great time with Walter and I have a great relationship with him. I think he will be someone I will stay in contact with my whole life! He has taught me so much from basic skills to working on the line and how to manage my time and even insight on things to think about when opening a restaurant. The only thing I can think to say is I LOVE CASA!

~ Joey Mendes

What is good about CASA is that you get practical experience. I have enjoyed my time at Scratch Bar + Restaurant because Chef DJ is supportive, encouraging, and always there to answer a question. You learn the flow and protocol of a restaurant environment so that you’re prepared to work as soon as you graduate.

~ Mouhssine Elguerch

Tomato salad

My name is Jaylen Jones and my mentor was Colin. He was a great mentor because of his talent. I thoroughly enjoyed my time with him. Being in the restaurant and learning how it works, is an experience that no classroom can give you. It opened up my eyes to a lot of different recipes and discovering flavors that I never knew existed. That is what I’m most grateful for. You opened my eyes to a bigger world of food.

Learn how to become a professional Chef in Illinois.

~ Jaylen Jones

Flame roasting vegetables on a grill

My experience with CASA has been absolutely amazing! My mentor has been extremely helpful and has helped me stay on track with my courses and further pursue my culinary dreams! They placed me with an outstanding mentor Chef Jordan Chen at Bistro VG in Roswell, Georgia. I have learned so many things since being there, I truly believe it is all due to me being able to actually have hands-on experience. I would recommend this school to everyone. My career expectations have never been more hopeful!

~ Spencer Patton

Pexels Elevate plating on cuts of logs with wild mushrooms

Training at Scratch Bar and Kitchen has been a great experience for me because of the way the restaurant is so unique in creating every item from scratch. I was able to learn to create foods from sauces and salads to proteins and starches all from the beginning of the process. The chefs were all extremely knowledgeable and willing to teach me about their skills and experiences. I would recommend future students to learn at this restaurant!

~ Rachel Ulansey

Chef instructing a student on plating

This program is outlining a good foundation of understanding what a culinary career fully entails and providing me with information that will make me familiar once I start my culinary career.

~ Crobin McWhirt – Spotsylvania, Virginia

I just graduated CASA yesterday, and am now a bona fide Gourmet Chef. CASA provided the best culinary education imaginable, safely, even during a pandemic. I am ever so grateful to have been mentored by elite chefs in Los Angeles before the Government shut down all restaurant activity. The best part was the interactions I had with my education facilitator Joslyn who was sure to gently push me to keep going forward, even when I wanted to hold back, she was always there to lend encouragement. The price was absolutely perfect for our family, and we were able to pay off tuition before my graduation, and now I am ready to start my new career as a Chef. I would recommend this school to anyone who is looking to become a Chef.

~ Karen Shaver

Two steaks in a cast iron pan

CASA was very amazing to me, they paired me up with a great mentor during these hard covid times, and eventually got a job at Pez Cantina. I’m very excited for the next chapter in my life.

~ Jessica Vega

Chef prepping a meat and vegetables

“Everything is going great! I got offered a job at The Ellington where I got my class hours. I’ll be working weekends there. I’m so excited! I love Kristin. She’s such a wonderful person. I’m so glad she took me on and offered me a job. I never knew how fast things could change. It seems like everything is coming together so nicely. I’m so happy I found this program. You guys are awesome thank you so much for this opportunity.

~ Paula Russell

Chef teaching his students on final prep for deserts

“I believe highly in apprenticeship (or externship) and mentorship as I am a result of this teaching environment. I understand a strong theoretical education works for a lot of students, but experience and doing these tasks in a professional kitchen teaches involvement. This style builds confidence in the apprentice to rise from cook status, to sous chef and beyond, through hard work and smart working techniques designed to empower the student to create their own success.”

~ Robert W. Phillips

Culinary student in the kitchen

Fill out the form below to start your culinary education with in-person mentorship.

"*" indicates required fields

Zip Code*
This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

*Not all programs are available in every state. Consult an Admissions Representative to learn more.