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Become A Dietary Cook

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Working As A Dietary Cook

  • 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

  • $27,277

    Average Salary

What Does A Dietary Cook 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 Dietary Cook

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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Dietary Cook Jobs

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Dietary Cook Career Paths

Dietary Cook
Cook Supervisor Sous Chef Executive Chef
Assistant Food Service Director
5 Yearsyrs
Machine Operator Security Officer Night Auditor
Assistant General Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Food Service Director District Manager Operations Manager
Business Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Machine Operator Office Manager
Business Office Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Production Worker Home Health Aid Licensed Practical Nurse
Career Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Head Cook Chef Dietary Manager
Certified Dietary Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Cook/Dietary Aide Dietary Manager Food Service Director
Director Of Food And Nutrition Services
10 Yearsyrs
Dietary Manager Food Service Director
District Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Food Service Director Operations Director Sales Consultant
Finance Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Security Officer Night Auditor Assistant General Manager
Food And Beverage Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Kitchen Supervisor Kitchen Manager Sous Chef
Food Production Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Lead Cook Sous Chef Executive Chef
Food Service Director
9 Yearsyrs
Head Cook Kitchen Manager Executive Chef
Food Service Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Dietary Manager Service Director Marketing Director
General Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Cook Supervisor Food Service Director Clinical Dietitian
Patient Services Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Cook/Dietary Aide Home Health Aid Case Manager
Program Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Lead Cook Chef General Manager
Property Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Driver Night Auditor Leasing Consultant
Resident Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Security Officer Operation Supervisor Assistant General Manager
Restaurant General Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Production Worker Security Officer Account Manager
Sales Manager
5 Yearsyrs
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Do you work as a Dietary Cook?

Help others decide if this is a good career for them

Average Length of Employment
Institutional Cook 4.0 years
First Cook 3.9 years
Head Cook 3.0 years
Cook/Baker 3.0 years
Cook/Dietary Aide 2.5 years
Dietary Assistant 2.2 years
Dinner Cook 2.2 years
Cafeteria Cook 2.1 years
Dietary Cook 2.0 years
Cook 1.9 years
Assistant Cook 1.9 years
Kitchen Cook 1.7 years
Grill Cook 1.6 years
Cook/Dishwasher 1.6 years
Prep Cook 1.6 years
Fry Cook 1.2 years
Top Employers Before
Cook 16.4%
Cashier 11.5%
Line Cook 8.1%
Prep Cook 6.4%
Manager 3.7%
Head Cook 2.9%
Server 2.5%
Waitress 2.3%
Top Employers After
Cook 20.8%
Line Cook 8.1%
Cashier 6.8%
Prep Cook 4.8%
Chef 4.1%
Lead Cook 3.1%
Sous Chef 2.9%
Server 2.9%

Do you work as a Dietary Cook?

Dietary Cook Demographics

Gender

Female

68.3%

Male

30.5%

Unknown

1.2%
Ethnicity

White

67.4%

Hispanic or Latino

13.3%

Black or African American

10.3%

Asian

6.0%

Unknown

3.0%
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Languages Spoken

Spanish

65.2%

French

8.7%

Filipino

4.3%

German

4.3%

Japanese

4.3%

Tagalog

4.3%

Arabic

4.3%

Italian

4.3%
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Dietary Cook Education

Schools

University of Phoenix

18.5%

Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts

8.7%

University of North Dakota

6.5%

Ashford University

6.5%

Kaplan University

5.4%

Ultimate Medical Academy - Clearwater

4.3%

Lansing Community College

4.3%

Northeast Community College

4.3%

Des Moines Area Community College

4.3%

Hawkeye Community College

4.3%

Clark College

3.3%

Arkansas State University

3.3%

American River College

3.3%

Pima Community College

3.3%

Vincennes University

3.3%

Kirkwood Community College

3.3%

Metropolitan Community College

3.3%

University of Florida

3.3%

Johnson County Community College

3.3%

Stark State College

3.3%
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Majors

Culinary Arts

21.4%

Business

14.8%

Nursing

6.2%

Health Care Administration

5.8%

Hospitality Management

5.8%

Medical Assisting Services

4.6%

General Studies

4.4%

Criminal Justice

4.2%

Management

4.0%

Accounting

3.8%

Food And Nutrition

3.6%

Nursing Assistants

3.2%

Psychology

3.2%

Pharmacy

2.6%

Cosmetology

2.4%

Human Services

2.4%

Dietetics

2.0%

Computer Science

1.8%

Liberal Arts

1.8%

Medical Technician

1.8%
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Degrees

Other

45.6%

Associate

24.4%

Bachelors

13.5%

Certificate

11.0%

Diploma

3.4%

Masters

1.3%

License

0.7%

Doctorate

0.1%
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Top Skills for A Dietary Cook

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  1. Meal Service
  2. Kitchen Equipment
  3. Food Safety
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Observed strict dietary regulations and critical time-management skills in order to provide timely meal service.
  • Conducted daily inspections and maintained food sanitation and kitchen equipment safety reports.
  • Follow strict sanitation and food safety guidelines.
  • Prepared food for special diets or diet needs including: Prepared and served food to residents with varying dietary requirements.
  • Prepared breakfast, lunch and dinner for residents according to SERVSAFE and HAACP procedures and standards on a daily basis.

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Top Dietary Cook Employers

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Dietary Cook Videos

Career choices with a Culinary Arts degree

CAREERS IN COOKING – Culinary Arts,Nutrition,Meal Planner,Cooking School,Recruiters,Salary Package

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