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Become A Line Cook

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Working As A Line 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

  • $24,208

    Average Salary

What Does A Line 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 Line 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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Line Cook jobs

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Average Length of Employment
First Cook 3.8 years
Head Cook 3.0 years
Master Cook 3.0 years
Cooking Chef 2.9 years
Cook/Baker 2.8 years
Cook/Trainer 2.8 years
Lead Cook 2.7 years
Chef 2.5 years
Lead Line Cook 2.3 years
Dinner Cook 2.2 years
Lunch Cook 2.2 years
Short Order Cook 2.1 years
Assistant Cook 2.0 years
Line Cook 2.0 years
Cook/Server 2.0 years
Banquet Cook 2.0 years
Line Chef 1.9 years
Cook 1.9 years
Kitchen Cook 1.8 years
Grill Cook/Prep 1.8 years
Breakfast Cook 1.8 years
Pastry Cook 1.7 years
Cook/Dishwasher 1.6 years
Back Line Cook 1.6 years
Prep Cook 1.6 years
Grill Cook 1.6 years
Specialty Cook 1.5 years
Pizza Cook 1.4 years
Pantry Cook 1.3 years
Fry Cook 1.1 years
Top Employers Before
Cook 15.1%
Prep Cook 10.6%
Cashier 8.6%
Sous Chef 6.4%
Server 4.6%
Chef 4.3%
Internship 4.0%
Manager 3.3%
Grill Cook 3.1%
Food Prep 1.9%
Top Employers After
Cook 14.5%
Sous Chef 12.5%
Chef 7.1%
Prep Cook 6.9%
Cashier 4.0%
Server 3.8%
Manager 3.2%
Lead Cook 2.8%
Grill Cook 2.8%
Head Chef 2.2%
Internship 2.1%

Line Cook Demographics

Gender

Male

73.6%

Female

24.8%

Unknown

1.7%
Ethnicity

White

79.5%

Hispanic or Latino

12.7%

Asian

6.0%

Unknown

1.3%

Black or African American

0.5%
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Languages Spoken

Spanish

62.4%

French

13.3%

Italian

6.5%

German

3.6%

Portuguese

2.2%

Japanese

2.0%

Russian

1.7%

Arabic

1.5%

Thai

0.9%

Korean

0.8%

Mandarin

0.7%

Chinese

0.7%

Swedish

0.5%

Dutch

0.5%

Vietnamese

0.5%

Tagalog

0.5%

Hindi

0.4%

Filipino

0.4%

Greek

0.4%

Dakota

0.4%
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Line Cook Education

Schools

Johnson & Wales University

24.7%

Culinary Institute of America

14.0%

Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts

11.7%

University of Phoenix

6.9%

Southern New Hampshire University

3.6%

Delgado Community College

3.4%

Kirkwood Community College

3.0%

Sullivan University

2.9%

Grand Rapids Community College

2.7%

New England Culinary Institute

2.7%

Valencia College

2.6%

Ashford University

2.6%

West Virginia University

2.6%

Arizona Culinary Institute

2.5%

Johnson County Community College

2.4%

Trident Technical College

2.4%

Appalachian State University

2.4%

Pennsylvania State University

2.4%

Anne Arundel Community College

2.4%

Liberty University

2.2%
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Majors

Culinary Arts

37.2%

Business

14.6%

Hospitality Management

4.9%

General Studies

4.9%

Criminal Justice

4.7%

Psychology

3.5%

Health Care Administration

3.2%

Management

2.7%

Computer Science

2.6%

Liberal Arts

2.4%

Accounting

2.3%

Communication

2.3%

Food And Nutrition

2.2%

Graphic Design

2.0%

Biology

1.9%

Automotive Technology

1.8%

Education

1.8%

English

1.7%

Nursing

1.7%

Medical Assisting Services

1.5%
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Degrees

Other

40.8%

Bachelors

23.7%

Associate

23.3%

Certificate

7.1%

Diploma

2.6%

Masters

2.0%

License

0.3%

Doctorate

0.2%
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Real Line Cook Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Line Cook Wianno Club, Inc. MA May 07, 2016 $52,801
Line Cook The Black Bass Hotel Associates, Inc. Summerville, PA Aug 10, 2015 $33,259
Restaurant Line Cook Little House CAFE, Inc. Vineyard Haven, MA Apr 26, 2016 $31,827
Line Cook The Westmoor Club Nantucket, MA May 15, 2016 $31,806
Line Cook Boarding House, Inc. Nantucket, MA Apr 28, 2016 $31,806
Line Cooks Dredlock Holidays, Inc. Nantucket, MA Apr 01, 2016 $31,806
Line Cooks Douglas Island Development Oak Bluffs, MA Jun 03, 2016 $31,806
Line Cook P&G Foods Inc. Somerville, MA Apr 29, 2016 $31,034
Line Cook Glen Oaks Club, Inc. Old Westbury, NY May 01, 2016 $31,013
Line Cook BESH Restaurant Group New Orleans, LA Nov 15, 2015 $30,262
Line Cook 2 Hermitage Club LLC Dover, VT Dec 04, 2016 $29,990
Line Cooks V.R.'s Inc. Wellfleet, MA Apr 15, 2016 $29,969
Line Cook Glen Oaks Club, Inc. Old Westbury, NY May 01, 2015 $29,907
Line Cook Baltusrol Golf Club Springfield, NJ May 21, 2015 $29,907
Line Cook Frenchman's Reserve Country Club Palm Beach Gardens, FL Oct 01, 2016 $27,841
Line Cook Gleneagles Country Club Delray Beach, FL Oct 01, 2016 $27,841
Line Cook Destination Stowe Hotel, Inc. Stowe, VT Jun 01, 2015 $27,820
Line Cook Destination Stowe Hotel, Inc. Stowe, VT Jul 01, 2016 $27,820
Line Cook 5 Stars Restaurant Group Inc. Framingham, MA Jan 02, 2015 $27,726
Line Cooks Eastward Ho! Country Club, Inc. Chatham, MA May 15, 2016 $27,694
Line Cooks The Oyster Company Dennis Port, MA May 13, 2016 $27,694
Line Cooks M and D Packet Corporation Dennis Port, MA May 01, 2016 $27,694
Line Cook Sailfish Point Property Owners and Country Club Association, Inc. Stuart, FL Oct 01, 2016 $27,131
Line Cook Table 26 Ltd West Palm Beach, FL Oct 24, 2015 $27,131 -
$30,262
Line Cook for PM Shift Palace CAFE Tulsa, OK Oct 12, 2015 $27,131
Line Cook Wycliffe Golf and Country Club, Inc. Wellington, FL Oct 01, 2015 $27,131
Line Cook Ibis Golf & Country Club, Inc. West Palm Beach, FL Oct 01, 2016 $27,131
Line Cook Colleton River Plantation Club Inc. Bluffton, SC Oct 12, 2016 $27,131
Line Cook Lake Shore Country Club Glencoe, IL May 15, 2016 $27,131
Line Cook Wycliffe Golf and Country Club, Inc. Wellington, FL Oct 01, 2016 $27,131

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Top Skills for A Line Cook

KitchenEquipmentPrepListColdFoodItemsSautStationMenuItemsCompliantCustomerServiceSaladStationPizzaPantryDishwasherHighVolumeFoodOrderSlipsSafeFoodFoodPrepItemsSafetyStandardsStorageAreasSousProperFoodLarge-VolumeCookingEquipmentExpo

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Top Line Cook Skills

  1. Kitchen Equipment
  2. Prep List
  3. Cold Food Items
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Learned all menu items quickly and how to operate all kitchen equipment.
  • Worked with owner and kitchen manager in organizing restaurant, including creating prep lists and new dishes, and organizing inventory
  • Prepared a variety of foods: meat, seafood, poultry, vegetable, and cold food items.
  • Developed popular daily specials with personally sourced ingredients for saut stations.
  • Serve menu items compliant with established standards as sell as constantly use safe and hygienic food handling practices.

Top Line Cook Employers

Line Cook Videos

Line cooking!

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

The Cheesecake Factory Line Cook Careers

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