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Become A Cooking Chef

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Working As A Cooking Chef

  • Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events
  • Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates
  • Getting Information
  • Monitor Processes, Materials, or Surroundings
  • Performing General Physical Activities
  • Outdoors/walking/standing

  • $22,840

    Average Salary

What Does A Cooking Chef Do

Cooks prepare, season, and cook a wide range of foods, which may include soups, salads, entrees, and desserts.

Duties

Cooks typically do the following:

  • Ensure the freshness of food and ingredients
  • Weigh, measure, and mix ingredients according to recipes
  • Bake, grill, or fry meats, fish, vegetables, and other foods
  • Boil and steam meats, fish, vegetables, and other foods
  • Arrange, garnish, and sometimes serve food
  • Clean work areas, equipment, utensils, and dishes
  • Cook, handle, and store food or ingredients

Cooks usually work under the direction of chefs, head cooks, or food service managers. Large restaurants and food service establishments often have multiple menus and large kitchen staffs. Teams of restaurant cooks, sometimes called assistant cooks or line cooks, work at assigned stations equipped with the necessary types of stoves, grills, pans, and ingredients.

Job titles often reflect the principal ingredient cooks prepare or the type of cooking they do—vegetable cook, fry cook, or grill cook, for example.

Cooks use a variety of kitchen equipment, including broilers, grills, slicers, grinders, and blenders.

The responsibilities of cooks vary depending on where they work, the size of the facility, and the level of service offered. However, in all establishments, they follow established sanitation procedures when handling food. For example, they store food and ingredients at the correct temperatures to prevent bacterial growth.

The following are examples of types of cooks:

Restaurant cooks prepare a wide selection of dishes and cook most orders individually. Some restaurant cooks may order supplies, set menu prices, and plan the daily menu.

Fast-food cooks prepare a limited selection of menu items in fast-food restaurants. They cook and package food, such as hamburgers and fried chicken, to be kept warm until served. For more information on workers who prepare and serve items in fast-food restaurants, see the profiles on food preparation workers and food and beverage serving and related workers.

Institution and cafeteria cooks work in the kitchens of schools, cafeterias, businesses, hospitals, and other institutions. For each meal, they prepare a large quantity of a limited number of entrees, vegetables, and desserts, according to preset menus. These cooks usually prepare meals in advance and seldom take special orders.

Short-order cooks prepare foods in restaurants and coffee shops that emphasize fast service and quick food preparation. They usually prepare sandwiches, fry eggs, and cook french fries, often working on several orders at the same time.

Private household cooks, sometimes called personal chefs, plan and prepare meals in private homes, according to the client’s tastes and dietary needs. They order groceries and supplies, clean the kitchen, and wash dishes and utensils. They also may cater parties, holiday meals, luncheons, and other social events. Private household cooks typically work for one full-time client, although some are self-employed or employed by an agency, regularly making meals for multiple clients.

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How To Become A Cooking Chef

Most cooks learn their skills through on-the-job training and work-related experience. Although no formal education is required, some restaurant cooks and private household cooks attend culinary schools. Others attend vocational or apprenticeship programs.

Education

Vocational cooking schools, professional culinary institutes, and some colleges offer culinary programs for aspiring cooks. These programs generally last from a few months to 2 years and may offer courses in advanced cooking techniques, international cuisines, and various cooking styles. To enter these programs, candidates may be required to have a high school diploma or equivalent. Depending on the type and length of the program, graduates generally qualify for entry-level positions as a restaurant cook.

Training

Most cooks learn their skills through on-the-job training, usually lasting a few weeks. Trainees generally first learn kitchen basics and workplace safety and then learn how to handle and cook food.

Some cooks learn through an apprenticeship program. Professional culinary institutes, industry associations, and trade unions may sponsor such programs for cooks. Typical apprenticeships last 1 year and combine technical training and work experience. Apprentices complete courses in food sanitation and safety, basic knife skills, and equipment operation. They also learn practical cooking skills under the supervision of an experienced chef.

The American Culinary Federation accredits more than 200 academic training programs and sponsors apprenticeships through these programs around the country. The basic qualifications for entering an apprenticeship program are as follows:

  • Minimum age of 17
  • High school education or equivalent
  • Pass substance abuse screening

Some hotels, a number of restaurants, and the Armed Forces have their own training programs.

Work Experience in a Related Occupation

Many cooks learn their skills through work-related experience. They typically start as a kitchen helper or food preparation worker, learning basic cooking skills before they advance to assistant cook or line cook positions. Some learn by working under the guidance of a more experienced cook.

Advancement

The American Culinary Federation certifies chefs, personal chefs, pastry chefs, and culinary administrators, among others. For cooks seeking advancement to higher level chef positions, certification can show accomplishment and lead to higher paying positions.

Advancement opportunities for cooks often depend on training, work experience, and the ability to prepare more complex dishes. Those who learn new cooking skills and who handle greater responsibility, such as supervising kitchen staff in the absence of a chef, often advance. Some cooks may train or supervise kitchen staff, and some may become head cooks, chefs, or food service managers.

Important Qualities

Comprehension. Cooks need to understand orders and follow recipes to prepare dishes correctly.

Customer-service skills. Restaurant and short-order cooks must be able to interact effectively with customers and handle special requests.

Dexterity. Cooks should have excellent hand–eye coordination. For example, they need to use proper knife techniques for cutting, chopping, and dicing.

Physical stamina. Cooks spend a lot of time standing in one place, cooking food over hot stoves, and cleaning work areas.

Sense of taste and smell. Cooks must have a keen sense of taste and smell to prepare meals that customers enjoy.

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Cooking Chef jobs

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Cooking Chef Career Paths

Cooking Chef

Average Length of Employment
Executive Chef 5.5 years
Chef/Catering 3.1 years
Personal Chef 3.1 years
Cooking Chef 3.0 years
Head Chef 3.0 years
Sous Chef 2.9 years
Cooking Instructor 2.9 years
Cook/Trainer 2.8 years
Cook/Baker 2.8 years
Banquet Chef 2.6 years
Chef De Partie 2.5 years
Chef 2.5 years
Sushi Chef 2.4 years
Line Cook 2.0 years
Line Chef 1.9 years
Assistant Chef 1.9 years
Cook 1.9 years
Kitchen Chef 1.9 years
Prep Chef 1.7 years
Pantry Chef 1.5 years
Top Employers Before
Cook 17.2%
Line Cook 13.0%
Chef 8.9%
Sous Chef 7.1%
Prep Cook 6.3%
Cashier 5.9%
Manager 3.2%
Lead Cook 3.0%
Grill Cook 2.8%
Head Cook 2.4%
Server 2.2%
Owner 2.1%
Top Employers After
Cook 15.5%
Chef 11.0%
Sous Chef 10.7%
Line Cook 10.4%
Prep Cook 5.3%
Manager 3.5%
Head Chef 3.0%
Head Cook 2.9%
Lead Cook 2.9%
Owner 2.7%
Cashier 2.5%
Supervisor 2.3%

Cooking Chef Demographics

Gender

Male

73.2%

Female

24.8%

Unknown

1.9%
Ethnicity

White

79.0%

Hispanic or Latino

12.6%

Asian

6.2%

Unknown

1.8%

Black or African American

0.5%
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Languages Spoken

Spanish

53.1%

French

28.1%

German

6.3%

Filipino

3.1%

Greek

3.1%

Tagalog

3.1%

Italian

3.1%
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Cooking Chef Education

Schools

Johnson & Wales University

15.9%

University of Phoenix

8.0%

Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts

6.8%

Delgado Community College

5.7%

Johnson County Community College

5.7%

Hinds Community College

4.5%

Vincennes University

4.5%

Kirkwood Community College

4.5%

Cooking and Hospitality Institute of Chicago

4.5%

Art Institute of Atlanta

4.5%

Elgin Community College

4.5%

Eastern Oregon University

3.4%

Glendale Community College

3.4%

Stratford University

3.4%

The Academy

3.4%

Fresno City College

3.4%

Boise State University

3.4%

University of Alabama at Birmingham

3.4%

Arizona Culinary Institute

3.4%

University of Florida

3.4%
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Majors

Culinary Arts

37.4%

Business

12.5%

Hospitality Management

6.8%

Food And Nutrition

3.6%

Management

3.6%

General Studies

3.4%

Psychology

3.2%

Health Care Administration

3.2%

Education

2.9%

Criminal Justice

2.9%

Computer Science

2.7%

English

2.5%

History

2.3%

Graphic Design

2.3%

Drafting And Design

2.0%

Communication

2.0%

Accounting

1.8%

Electrical Engineering

1.6%

Biology

1.6%

Sociology

1.6%
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Degrees

Other

43.8%

Associate

22.7%

Bachelors

18.5%

Certificate

8.3%

Diploma

3.2%

Masters

2.5%

License

0.5%

Doctorate

0.5%
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Real Cooking Chef Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Chefs and HED Cooks BSDH, Inc. D/B/A Star Diner CAFE & Restaurant North Wildwood, NJ Mar 07, 2012 $65,978
Chef Cook Africana Restaurant & Lounge Madison, WI Jul 27, 2010 $54,340
Cook-Chef RKJM LLC Portland, OR Jul 15, 2014 $51,043
Cook-Chef RKJM LLC Portland, OR Aug 01, 2014 $51,043
Chef/Cook Cosmo's Italian Kitchen-Las Flores Inc. Rancho Santa Margarita, CA Oct 18, 2007 $45,914
Chefs and Cooks Fiorentino Ristorante, Inc. New York, NY Dec 21, 2010 $45,664
Cook-Chef RKJM LLC Portland, OR Jun 01, 2014 $44,161
Korean Cook Chef Kimchi Hana LLC Temple, TX Aug 16, 2016 $41,900
Chefs and Cooks Seoul Garden Houston, TX Sep 28, 2009 $41,475
Chefs and Cooks La Casona Grill CAFE, Inc. Lake Jackson, TX Oct 05, 2007 $35,464
Chef/Cook Bucatini, Inc. Santa Barbara, CA Mar 03, 2014 $31,305
Chef Wood-Fire Argentine Cooking E-Lift Inc. NY May 15, 2014 $29,072
Authentic Chinese Cuisine Chef/Cook Su Wings Corporation Lake Geneva, WI Sep 01, 2015 $28,288
Chef/Cook Gurubaba, Inc. DBA Tandoor India Santa Monica, CA Dec 28, 2009 $26,088

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Top Skills for A Cooking Chef

MenuItemsPrepSafeFoodDinnerServiceDessertsCustomerServiceFoodItemsSteamMeatsFoodServiceFoodProductsSaladSuperviseFoodOrdersPantrySafetyStandardsFoodCostSousHighVolumeKitchenEquipmentFoodQuality

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Top Cooking Chef Skills

  1. Menu Items
  2. Prep
  3. Safe Food
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Plan and price menu items, orders supplies, and keep records and accounts.
  • Prepare all three meals and serve on time to up to fifty residents.
  • Directed inventory rotations, and safe food handling operations.
  • Performed necessary food preparation for regular dinner service, banquets and large parties.
  • Prepared ingredients and seasoned as needed to cook soups, meats, vegetables, and desserts according to company menus.

Top Cooking Chef Employers

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Cooking Chef Videos

Kenwood Cooking Chef | Williams-Sonoma

Présentation du robot Cooking Chef de Kenwood par l'Atelier des Chefs

A Day in the Life of moto Chef Richard Farina

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