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Become A Line Chef

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Working As A Line 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

  • $24,260

    Average Salary

What Does A Line 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 Line 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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Line Chef jobs

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Average Length of Employment
Executive Chef 5.5 years
First Cook 3.8 years
Chef/Catering 3.1 years
Head Chef 3.0 years
Sous Chef 2.9 years
Cooking Chef 2.9 years
Banquet Chef 2.6 years
Chef 2.5 years
Chef De Partie 2.5 years
Line Chef 2.0 years
Line Cook 2.0 years
Kitchen Chef 1.9 years
Cook 1.9 years
Assistant Chef 1.9 years
Prep Chef 1.7 years
Pantry Chef 1.5 years
Top Employers Before
Line Cook 12.8%
Sous Chef 12.1%
Chef 11.1%
Cook 8.9%
Cashier 6.2%
Prep Cook 4.0%
Internship 3.4%
Head Chef 2.8%
Manager 2.7%
Server 2.5%
Top Employers After
Sous Chef 13.5%
Chef 10.6%
Cook 9.5%
Line Cook 7.9%
Cashier 5.1%
Head Chef 4.7%
Prep Cook 3.2%
Manager 3.0%
Server 2.3%

Line Chef Demographics

Gender

Male

66.0%

Female

32.3%

Unknown

1.7%
Ethnicity

White

79.1%

Hispanic or Latino

12.8%

Asian

6.1%

Unknown

1.6%

Black or African American

0.5%
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Languages Spoken

Spanish

51.9%

French

11.3%

Italian

8.5%

Japanese

5.7%

German

4.7%

Chinese

2.8%

Mandarin

1.9%

Filipino

1.9%

Dutch

0.9%

Catalan

0.9%

Bosnian

0.9%

Norwegian

0.9%

Bengali

0.9%

Russian

0.9%

Thai

0.9%

Armenian

0.9%

Cantonese

0.9%

Greek

0.9%

Carrier

0.9%

Tagalog

0.9%
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Line Chef Education

Schools

Johnson & Wales University

30.2%

Culinary Institute of America

14.1%

Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts

6.3%

Southern New Hampshire University

4.4%

University of Rhode Island

3.9%

Kirkwood Community College

3.9%

Arizona Culinary Institute

3.9%

Sullivan University

2.9%

Joliet Junior College

2.9%

Monroe Community College

2.9%

University of Phoenix

2.9%

Everest Institute

2.4%

Manchester Community College

2.4%

Henry Ford College

2.4%

Ashford University

2.4%

Cornell University

2.4%

New England Culinary Institute

2.4%

Western Technical College

2.4%

Western Michigan University

2.4%

University of Wisconsin - Stout

2.0%
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Majors

Culinary Arts

34.4%

Business

16.1%

Hospitality Management

6.3%

General Studies

4.1%

Criminal Justice

3.6%

Health Care Administration

3.6%

Management

3.2%

Nursing

3.1%

Accounting

2.8%

Psychology

2.7%

Liberal Arts

2.5%

Computer Science

2.4%

Education

2.3%

Graphic Design

2.2%

Marketing

2.1%

Food And Nutrition

2.0%

Medical Assisting Services

2.0%

Political Science

1.6%

Communication

1.6%

General Education, Specific Areas

1.5%
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Degrees

Other

38.5%

Bachelors

25.7%

Associate

24.5%

Certificate

6.6%

Diploma

2.3%

Masters

2.0%

License

0.3%

Doctorate

0.1%
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Part Time
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Real Line Chef Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Line Chef Bruce's Gourmet Catering, Inc. CA Sep 21, 2010 $31,931
Helper Cook Italian Inn Restaurant Hyattsville, MD Feb 25, 2010 $31,201
Cook Helper The Breakers Palm Beach, Inc. Palm Beach, FL Oct 01, 2016 $26,588
Cook Helper MIZ-Zip's CAFE Flagstaff, AZ Feb 28, 2011 $25,044
Korean Cook Helper Sushi Town Restaurant, Inc. DBA Sushi Dake Anaheim, CA Jul 28, 2015 $24,482
Cook Helper (Thai Specialty) Thai Aroma, Inc. Ellicott City, MD Oct 19, 2015 $22,942
Cook Helper KOHU Restaurant Enterprises Inc. Urban Honolulu, HI Jul 10, 2016 $22,500
Cook Helper GG Cham Soot GOL, Inc. Garden Grove, CA Jul 10, 2015 $22,443
Cook Helper-American Style Big Fish Seafood Bistro Princeton, NJ Sep 23, 2008 $22,268 -
$22,957
Cook Helper-American Style Big Fish Seafood Bistro Princeton, NJ Mar 25, 2009 $22,268 -
$22,957
Cook Helper The Breakers Palm Beach, Inc. Palm Beach, FL Oct 01, 2015 $22,206
Cook Helper The Breakers Palm Beach, Inc. FL Oct 01, 2014 $22,122
Cook Helper The Breakers Palm Beach, Inc. FL Oct 01, 2013 $22,122
Cook Helper J.W. Dawit, Inc. Aiea, HI Dec 16, 2016 $21,600
Cook Helper/Food Prep Worker The Loose Caboose FL Jan 23, 2016 $20,536
Cook Helpers Snowbird Corporation UT Nov 01, 2014 $20,327
Cook Helper Snowbird Operations LLC UT Dec 09, 2015 $20,181
Cook Helper Kai Nan Tei Restaurant LLC Dba Han Yang Restaurant Urban Honolulu, HI Oct 25, 2016 $20,000
Cook Helper E C Group Inc. Centreville, VA Oct 27, 2016 $20,000
Cook Helper Snowbird Operations LLC UT Dec 07, 2016 $19,952
Cook Helper The Breakers Palm Beach, Inc. DBA The Breakers FL Oct 01, 2012 $19,827
Cook's Helpers Neal's Dinning Room TX Feb 25, 2014 $17,844
Cook Helper SMMJ Co Inc. Urban Honolulu, HI Oct 26, 2015 $17,680
Cook Helper Ryant Hawaii Inc. Dba Sumo Sushi Hawaii Urban Honolulu, HI Jan 28, 2016 $17,680
Cook Helper Sugar Bowl Restaurant MI Jun 15, 2011 $17,280
Cook's Helper Skorpios, Inc. T/A Skorpios Charcoal Grill Vienna, VA Nov 08, 2016 $17,222
Cook Helper Tara Thai Charlottesville, VA Apr 02, 2015 $17,118
Cook Helper D.H.J. LLC Purcellville, VA Oct 29, 2015 $17,056
Cook's Helper Alexandria Food Company, LLC Alexandria, VA Jul 10, 2015 $17,014

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Top Skills for A Line Chef

KitchenEquipmentFoodPreparationAreasDinnerServiceFoodSafetyCustomerServiceSautSteamMeatsChefsBanquetSousPantryFoodProductsPizzaHighVolumeDailySpecialsDishwasherFoodOrdersStorageAreasBroilerProperFood

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Top Line Chef Skills

  1. Kitchen Equipment
  2. Food Preparation Areas
  3. Dinner Service
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Operated all kitchen equipment and performed routine manual and multiple other duties as needed in a restaurant environment.
  • Clean food preparation areas, Read Food Orders or receive verbal instructions as to food required by patron.
  • Lead and execute nightly dinner service.
  • Practiced proper food safety and sanitation practices.
  • Provided excellent customer service over the phone and in person as well as resolved any issues that arose.

Top Line Chef Employers

Line Chef Videos

Paul Gerard's WORK THE LINE featuring Anthony Bourdain & Tom Colicchio

A Day in the Life of moto Chef Richard Farina

Real Chefs work the line!

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