A Place to be Real Together



Closing Date for applications: no closing date

Starting Date: We hope our new Caterer will be able to join us ideally in September.

If you are shortlisted, we will ask you to volunteer with us for a few days, including planning and cooking meals, before any formal interview. As well as an introduction to the work, this allows you and the Othona team to get to know each other. We interview at the end of such a volunteer period, if both you and Othona decide to go ahead with your application.

How To Apply

First, read For All Applicants: The Three Keys.

Then read the brief job description below. Do you think living and working with us in this role might suit you?

If so, read this background information, a more detailed job description and download an application form.  Please email your completed application form to us at recruitment@othonawestdorset.org.uk  Please use 'Caterer' as the subject.  Alternatively you can post your form to: Recruitment, Othona West Dorset, Coast Road, Burton Bradstock, BRIDPORT, Dorset. DT6 4RN

Recruitment, Othona West Dorset, Coast Road, Burton Bradstock, BRIDPORT, Dorset DT6 4RN


The role of the Core Member with catering responsibility at Othona is really vital and can be very fulfilling. You’ll need some competence both in cooking and in running a kitchen (menu planning, ordering, food hygiene and so on). But just as important, you will need an interest in, an appetite for, a readiness to involve yourself in, the wider dimensions of community life. Both these perspectives call for personal qualities, not just technical expertise.

Are you able to be well organised without being inflexible, to cope calmly in changing circumstances, to work cheerfully in an unusual team? Emotional intelligence and an interest in people will need to underpin your kitchen skills.

The salary offered is £ 8,997.08, plus full board and lodging. You can expect two days off a week (on a variable rota) and 28 days annual leave allowance.

One day you may be preparing meals for a group of 20 people. The next you may be encouraging an inexperienced core member to create a simple supper for 6 people out of leftovers. And the following morning, you may need to plan a menu in advance for a packed house of families with children (numbers up to 40 maximum).

You will be responsible for cooking a fair number of the main meals, both lunches and suppers. Other resident core members share in the cooking on a rota basis. Help is available in the kitchen from core members, local volunteers and visitors.

This role is probably best suited to someone who loves cooking, planning menus and working with people, but may not have had formal training. (We’re not a restaurant and commercial chefs don’t adjust easily to our ethos.) Alternatively you might be an experienced cook but now looking to live in a community-oriented environment.

The kitchen at Othona is more like a large family kitchen than a standard commercial operation. It is not shut away from the rest of community life, so working in it one need not feel isolated. The way it is run has consistently secured us 5 (once 4) star food hygiene status with the environmental health department.

Food has a central place in the ethos of Othona. We encourage everyone to value and enjoy preparing food and eating together, not only as a pleasure in itself but also as a powerful symbol (a ‘sacrament’) of community. (In practice this does not mean everybody competing to cook – but it does mean we welcome the involvement of even our newest visitor in preparing vegetables or washing up.)

We have a reputation for good, simple, home cooked food and the use of local or home grown produce where possible. As a creative menu-planner we hope you will enjoy the challenge of balancing these criteria with the constraints of a fairly tight budget. We are in the process of increasing the amount of food grown in our polytunnel, raised beds, fruit cage and orchard; as caterer you'll be have a key liaison role with our small team of garedening volunteers and your active interest in the garden wil be a plus. 

You’ll be building on some established menu favourites and proven ways of working, not starting from scratch. West Dorset has a wealth of local food producers with Bridport named a ‘beacon’ town in this regard. On site we have a polytunnel for salads, an orchard and a soft fruit cage.

We sit down to share a common meal at Othona – not a variety of menu options. But of course there are individuals whose allergies or other special requirements need to be catered for.

We always provide a vegetarian alternative when meat or fish are served. Probably half our main meals are wholly vegetarian anyway and we look for that proportion to rise in the near future. If vegetarian yourself, you will nonetheless need to prepare and cook both meat and fish happily.

To summarise, our caterer has three aims of equal importance:

  • to manage the provision of balanced, nourishing, tasty food for visitors and core, within a limited budget
  • to manage the kitchen and its systems and maintain high standards of hygiene and safety
  • to build community with core colleagues, volunteers and visitors in all sorts of ways, not least by encouraging and helping them to participate in cooking and related activities

Othona is a spiritual community, but without lots of pious talk or formal religion. We do ask of core members that you’re committed to spiritual growth in yourself and others. Our approach is very inclusive: Othona West Dorset is a centre dedicated to human wellbeing – of body, mind and spirit. We have found that individual wellbeing grows through an experience of community with others and of connection with Spirit/God. We welcome people of all faiths and none. Only together can we hope to build a sustainable future of justice and peace. Down-to-earth and open-hearted, Othona has its roots in the inclusive Christian tradition, and now draws on a wealth of other inspirations too.

All Core Members

The following are all essential to the running of the centre and will be carried out by a combination of long and short term core members and local volunteers. They offer variety and sometimes the opportunity to use (or develop) special skills or pursue a personal interest.

The following tasks are shared between core members, often on a rota basis:
  • cooking
  • contributing to chapel gatherings (with support/training as appropriate)
  • cleaning
  • hosting (event liaison with facilitators and visitors)
  • dealing with rubbish and recycling
Other tasks relating to the running of the Centre may arise, which by agreement the core member may wish to pursue in addition to their lead role.
The core members are at the heart of this Othona centre. They need to be committed to the work of the community, its ethos and values. Core members work actively to live these out in their everyday life, and to further them. The competences below provide good examples of what this means in practice. The programme explains what Othona is about. Our policy statements show how Othona seeks to realise these values in the way it manages people, its policies of equal opportunities and the green policies for house and grounds, and in its open Christianity.
The heart of Othona is people – core colleagues, visitors and all those who we interact with. People come because they know they will be welcomed, accepted and valued for who they are. Our role is not to be therapists or counsellors, but we do need to be interested in people and willing to listen and share. We also need to be aware of our own responses and feelings, and especially of the impact of our own behaviour on other people.
Othona core members live and work together, and are hosts to an ever-changing number of visitors. Core members have to be flexible, able to adapt to varied and changing circumstances and people.
The main purpose of Othona is to provide visitors with a taste of life in community. The core members need to be able to live and work together co-operatively, and provide support (and challenge). This is important not only to carry out our work but equally so we can enjoy our life together, relax and have fun.
Othona West Dorset offers an experience of Christian community of a very open sort – rooted in the Christian heritage, open to the widening future. This is an approach to spirituality where you may experience the fellowship of the spirit in everyday life. Although core members do not have to be Christian, and may be of any faith tradition or none, we expect that they will respect the importance of the Christian tradition and the values that are at the heart of Othona. They adopt a 'Rule of Life' as a framework for shared life, and participate actively in the spiritual aspects of community life including chapel services.