Culinary Operations Manager

Kitchen · Woodacre, California
Department Kitchen
Employment Type Full-time Regular
Minimum Experience Mid-level
Compensation Salary and generous compensation package

The Culinary Operations Manager holds primary accountability for all aspects of foodservice at Spirit Rock including the residential retreat center as well as our Community Meditation Center (CMC), special events and catered meetings. The Culinary Operations Manager supervises all kitchen staff including the Assistant Culinary Operations Manager and Cooks. This role supervises the day-to-day operations of the kitchen while the ACOM handles all of the supplies and food purchases. The Culinary Operations Manager is responsible for menu planning, recipe development and quality control of all food served by the Spirit Rock Kitchen. 

The COM fulfills all administrative needs of the Kitchen including budget forecasting and expense management. They function as liaison between the kitchen staff and all other departments of Spirit Rock, keeping the mission and values of the organization in mind. The Culinary Operations Manager is responsible for adapting and innovating the systems of the Kitchen to meet the growing foodservice needs of Spirit Rock including our 2025 Strategic Plan that calls for a two-retreat center campus and the design and construction of a new Dining Hall. 

Spirit Rock will reopen our residential retreat center in Aug. 2021. The Culinary Operations Manager is responsible for hiring all Cooks needed for this reopening and operationalizing our kitchen after a 1 ½ year hiatus. 

Reporting Relationships:

Direct Reports: Assistant Culinary Operations Manager and Cooks (7) 

Specific Responsibilities

 Kitchen Operations

  • Creates, updates and drives timelines for project plans related to campus wide food requirements.
  • Collaborates with and supervises the ACOM through weekly meetings and ongoing check-ins regarding food purchases, team needs, planning, and problem-solving.

Residential Retreat Logistics and Oversight

  • Communicates with retreat teachers, staff and administration around scheduling needs and other concerns related to residential retreats; troubleshoots and resolves problems.
  • Communicates with retreatants to plan for special needs and dietary restrictions, prior to and throughout retreat; transmits relevant information to Kitchen and Spirit Rock Staff.
  • Interfaces with Retreat Operations Staff, Teachers, and Facilities Staff to ensure smooth operations in the kitchen.

Strategic Planning

Expand and operationalize the culinary needs for Spirit Rock as we move towards our 2025 vision of a two-retreat center campus. This include:

  • Consulting on the design/build of a new Dining Hall bringing knowledge of efficiency in layout and equipment needs.
  • Developing and implementing an interim plan for CMC food-service within the current kitchen structures.

Staff Development and Staff Supervision

  • Oversees administrative aspects of recruiting and hiring all kitchen staff with support from the Human Resources department. 
  • Develops ongoing training protocols and guidelines for kitchen staff; review/refine as needed.
  • Conducts annual performance evaluations for all direct reports. 
  • Available to all kitchen staff for support, guidance, and coaching on interpersonal communication skills; mediates staff disputes as needed.

Food Management and Administration

  • Ensures the overall quality of meals prepared by Cooks. 
  • Develops menus for retreats, special events and meetings of nourishing, balanced, and cost-appropriate whole foods vegetarian meals. 
  • Creates and updates daily prep lists and task lists for kitchen staff, externs and volunteers.
  • Develops new recipes and updates database by utilizing cookbook-management software and staying abreast of food trends. Adds relevant information to the database to support the workflow of team members.
  • Collaborates with Spirit Rock Marketing staff to profile kitchen on SRMC Web site and in other promotional materials.

Cross-Department Collaboration

  • Works in on-going collaboration with other Managers in Retreat Operations and Facilities. 
  • Teams with Development Department on food elements for all fund-raising programs including the bi-annual donor residential retreat and CMC donor recognition events.
  • Partners with Facilities Manager on an ongoing basis to ensure cleanliness standards and equipment maintenance are met.


  • Develop the annual kitchen budget. Reviews and analyzes expense variances on a monthly basis.
  • Stays abreast of and plays an active role in shaping organizational policy related to kitchen operations. Disseminates Spirit Rock’s operational, financial, and personnel policies and procedures where applicable and provides upward feedback from kitchen staff as needed.
  • Reviews and submits kitchen staff timesheets to payroll, ensuring accuracy of time logged and categorization of work hours.

 Ongoing Staff Meetings

  • Holds regular kitchen staff meetings and attends all Spirit Rock all-staff meetings as well as Quarterly Staff Sangha meetings.
  • Attends (as scheduled) Spirit Rock Leadership Team Meeting and Department Leadership Meetings


  • Four to five years of experience as a manager/supervisor in the foodservice or hospitality industry.
  • Two to three years of hands-on experience cooking (within a contemplative retreat setting preferred).
  • Strong administrative and business sense: able to integrate people, facilities, and processes to optimize food quality within cost guidelines.
  • Required skills include staff supervision and motivation, performance management, high-volume purchasing and cooking, knowledge of commercial kitchen equipment and appliances. 
  • Demonstrated knowledge of organic ingredients and sources as well as regional and seasonal availability.
  • Strong interpersonal communication skills, including conflict resolution and wise decision-making; ability to function as both team leader and team player.
  • Strong personal and ethical commitment of bringing mindfulness to all activities of daily life; background or interest in Vipassana meditation or another compatible spiritual tradition.
  • Excellent organizational and time management skills; ability to coordinate, follow through, and manage a variety of tasks simultaneously.
  • Flexibility in schedule required. Some weekend and holiday work required.
  • Physical stamina; ability to work up to 8 hours in the kitchen; ability to lift up to 50 pounds.
  • Excellent working knowledge of Outlook, Microsoft Word, Excel, cookbook-management software, and other computer tools.
  • Current ServSafe Food Manager's Certificate.

Thank You

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  • Location
    Woodacre, California
  • Department
  • Employment Type
    Full-time Regular
  • Minimum Experience
  • Compensation
    Salary and generous compensation package