Line cooks are responsible for preparing meals for guests or employers. The term line cook brings to mind an assembly line. This is apt because line cooks are usually assigned to a specific station to work on a specific part of a meal or a preparation process. They are part of a bigger group of cooks in the restaurant. This is done so that meal preparation is more efficient. Line cooks are responsible for preparing ingredients, ensuring that the pantry is well-stocked, and doing their assigned activity in the line. They are expected to be good team players, have experience as a cook, and be able to follow recipes and provide alternatives when necessary.

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Line Cook Responsibilities

Here are examples of responsibilities from real line cook resumes representing typical tasks they are likely to perform in their roles.

  • Manage the expo line when need to ensure ticket times are to par and food are coming out right every time.
  • Manage the POS system (adding/deleting specials, editing prices, viewing server appetizer/dessert sales and their server report information).
  • Work side-by-side with international chefs to prepare intercontinental cuisine.
  • Follow proper sanitation and safety procedures including knife handling and kitchen equipment.
  • Line chef responsible for saute, fryer, and broiler.
  • Operate large-volume cooking equipment such as grills, deep-fryers and/or griddles.
  • Work broiler station preparing entr e proteins as well as LTO's.
  • Communicate openly and honestly with all workers to ensure each shift run smoothly.
  • Operate hot and cold line - grill and saut ed meats, prepare soups and salads.
  • Prepare all fry foods, sandwiches, salads, desserts, saut ed foods within designate time.
  • Cook menu items according to customer specifications and ServSafe standards, ensuring quality, freshness and flavor.
  • Maintain clean and safe work environment to comply with all sanitation, ServSafe, and safety requirements.
  • Set up and perform initial prep work for food items such as soups, sauces and salads.
  • Follow HACCP system, and practice safety and sanitation as well adhere to the company policies and regulations.
  • Produce HACCP forms and guidelines to have better awareness of quality of food being produce in the kitchen.

Line Cook Job Description

When it comes to understanding what a Line Cook does, you may be wondering, "should I become a Line Cook?" The data included in this section may help you decide. Compared to other jobs, Line Cooks have a growth rate described as "much faster than average" at 11% between the years 2018 - 2028, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In fact, the number of Line Cook opportunities that are predicted to open up by 2028 is 282,000.

On average, the Line Cook annual salary is $27,579 per year, which translates to $13.26 an hour. Generally speaking, Line Cooks earn anywhere from $23,000 to $32,000 a year, which means that the top-earning Line Cooks make $9,000 more than the ones at the lower end of the spectrum.

As is the case with most jobs, it takes work to become a Line Cook. Sometimes people change their minds about their career after working in the profession. That's why we looked into some other professions that might help you find your next opportunity. These professions include a Cook/Trainer, Prep Cook/Dishwasher, Short Order Cook, and Grill Cook/Prep.

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Line Cook Skills and Personality Traits

We calculated that 13% of Line Cooks are proficient in Sanitation Standards, Food Safety, and High Quality. They’re also known for soft skills such as Comprehension, Dexterity, and Physical stamina.

We break down the percentage of Line Cooks that have these skills listed on their resume here:

  • Sanitation Standards, 13%

    Well Trained in Sanitation standards and practices including implementation and maintaining high cleanliness standard.

  • Food Safety, 12%

    Performed cleanliness and maintenance in food preparation areas according to state and federal regulations for food safety and surface sanitation.

  • High Quality, 11%

    Gained insight on working collaboratively to provide high quality customer service Prepared customer-specified and detail-orientated meals Ensured the cleanliness of the establishment

  • Kitchen Equipment, 10%

    Participated in all aspects of daily kitchen operations in kitchen including staff scheduling and supervision.

  • High Volume, 9%

    Provided exceptional customer-centered service in a fast-paced, high volume restaurant.

  • Food Preparation, 6%

    Utilized food preparation tools within correct manufacturing guidelines and placed all dirty food preparation utensils and equipment to the appropriate areas.

"Sanitation Standards," "Food Safety," and "High Quality" aren't the only skills we found Line Cooks list on their resumes. In fact, there's a whole list of Line Cook responsibilities that we found, including:

  • Arguably the most important personality trait for a Line Cook to have happens to be Comprehension. An example from a resume said this about the skill, "Cooks need to understand orders and follow recipes to prepare dishes correctly." Additionally, other resumes have pointed out that Line Cooks can use Comprehension to "Complete comprehension with the assembly and presentation of all menu items. "
  • Another trait important for fulfilling Line Cook duties is Dexterity. According to a Line Cook resume, "Cooks should have excellent hand–eye coordination." Here's an example of how Line Cooks are able to utilize Dexterity: "Wash dishes and lift heavy food products. "
  • Physical stamina is also an important skill for Line Cooks to have. This example of how Line Cooks use this skill comes from a Line Cook resume, "Cooks spend a lot of time standing in one place, cooking food over hot stoves, and cleaning work areas." Read this excerpt from a resume to understand how vital it is to their everyday roles and responsibilities, "Maintained stamina, capitalized on ability to multi-task and demonstrated a professional attitude * Provided excellent customer service. "
  • A thorough review of lots of resumes revealed to us that "Sense of taste and smell" is important to completing Line Cook responsibilities. This resume example shows just one way Line Cooks use this skill: "Cooks must have a keen sense of taste and smell to prepare meals that customers enjoy." Here's an example of how this skill is used from a resume that represents typical Line Cook tasks: "Fry and salad stations I prepared a variety of hand tossed salads, and also breaded and deep-fried foods to order. "
  • See the full list of Line Cook skills.

    Before becoming a Line Cook, 19.5% earned their bachelor's degree. When it comes down to graduating with a master's degree, 0.9% Line Cooks went for the extra education. If you're wanting to pursue this career, it may be possible to be successful with a high school degree. In fact, some Line Cooks have a college degree. But about one out of every two Line Cooks didn't attend college at all.

    The Line Cooks who went onto college to earn a more in-depth education generally studied Culinary Arts and Business, while a small population of Line Cooks studied General Studies and Hospitality Management.

    Once you've obtained the level of education you're comfortable with, you might start applying to companies to become a Line Cook. We've found that most Line Cook resumes include experience from Chili's, Darden Restaurants, and Adia. Of recent, Chili's had 5,293 positions open for Line Cooks. Meanwhile, there are 2,862 job openings at Darden Restaurants and 2,287 at Adia.

    But if you're interested in companies where you might earn a high salary, Line Cooks tend to earn the biggest salaries at The Cheesecake Factory, Cala Co, and Choctaw Casinos & Resorts. Take The Cheesecake Factory for example. The median Line Cook salary is $35,341. At Cala Co, Line Cooks earn an average of $35,287, while the average at Choctaw Casinos & Resorts is $34,697. You should take into consideration how difficult it might be to secure a job with one of these companies.

    View more details on Line Cook salaries across the United States.

    The three companies that hire the most prestigious line cooks are:

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      What Cook/Trainers Do

      In this section, we compare the average Line Cook annual salary with that of a Cook/Trainer. Typically, Cook/Trainers earn a $1,052 higher salary than Line Cooks earn annually.

      While their salaries may differ, one common ground between Line Cooks and Cook/Trainers are a few of the skills required in each craft. In both careers, employees bring forth skills like Food Safety, Kitchen Equipment, and High Volume.

      These skill sets are where the common ground ends though. A Line Cook responsibility is more likely to require skills like "Sanitation Standards," "High Quality," "Timely Fashion," and "Sous." Whereas a Cook/Trainer requires skills like "Positive Attitude," "Haccp," "Menu Items," and "Company Policies." Just by understanding these different skills you can see how different these careers are.

      Cook/Trainers tend to reach similar levels of education than Line Cooks. In fact, Cook/Trainers are 1.0% more likely to graduate with a Master's Degree and 0.2% more likely to have a Doctoral Degree.

      What Are The Duties Of a Prep Cook/Dishwasher?

      A prep cook and dishwasher is responsible for cleaning and sanitizing kitchen items and utensils, and performing basic cooking tasks under the supervision of chefs or cooks. It is also their responsibility to prepare ingredients by washing, chopping, weighing, and ensuring that they are the correct quantity and quality. Furthermore, a prep cook and dishwasher may also have to maintain cleanliness in the kitchen, clear tables, monitor inventory of ingredients in storage, coordinate with the kitchen staff, and meet all health standards and policies.

      Next up, we have the Prep Cook/Dishwasher profession to look over. This career brings along a lower average salary when compared to a Line Cook annual salary. In fact, Prep Cook/Dishwashers salary difference is $1,322 lower than the salary of Line Cooks per year.

      A similarity between the two careers of Line Cooks and Prep Cook/Dishwashers are a few of the skills associated with both roles. We used resumes from both professions to find that both use skills like "Sanitation Standards," "Kitchen Equipment," and "Food Preparation. "

      While some skills are similar in these professions, other skills aren't so similar. For example, several resumes showed us that Line Cook responsibilities requires skills like "Food Safety," "High Quality," "High Volume," and "Quality Standards." But a Prep Cook/Dishwasher might use skills, such as, "Dishes," "Orderly Condition," "Menu Items," and "Positive Attitude."

      On average, Prep Cook/Dishwashers earn a lower salary than Line Cooks. There are industries that support higher salaries in each profession respectively. Interestingly enough, Prep Cook/Dishwashers earn the most pay in the Retail industry with an average salary of $27,535. Whereas, Line Cooks have higher paychecks in the Retail industry where they earn an average of $30,085.

      On the topic of education, Prep Cook/Dishwashers earn similar levels of education than Line Cooks. In general, they're 0.0% less likely to graduate with a Master's Degree and 0.2% more likely to earn a Doctoral Degree.

      How a Short Order Cook Compares

      A short-order cook takes responsibility for preparing foods in cafes and restaurants. Usually, they fry eggs, cook fries, and prepare sandwiches. Short order cooks work alongside line chefs in the foodservice market. Their manner of preparing food is quick, easy, and simple. They plan and handle work orders ensuring that all orders are complete and served on time. Strong communication, customer service, a good sense of taste, and the ability to work efficiently are necessary requirements for the job.

      The third profession we take a look at is Short Order Cook. On an average scale, these workers bring in lower salaries than Line Cooks. In fact, they make a $3,231 lower salary per year.

      Using Line Cooks and Short Order Cooks resumes, we found that both professions have similar skills such as "Food Safety," "Kitchen Equipment," and "High Volume," but the other skills required are very different.

      Some important key differences between the two careers are a few of the skills necessary to fulfill responsibilities. Some examples from Line Cook resumes include skills like "Sanitation Standards," "High Quality," "Sous," and "Dexterity," whereas a Short Order Cook might be skilled in "Kitchen Supplies," "Menu Items," "Food Service," and "Deli. "

      Short Order Cooks make a very good living in the Retail industry with an average annual salary of $25,674. Whereas Line Cooks are paid the highest salary in the Retail industry with the average being $30,085.

      Short Order Cooks typically study at similar levels compared with Line Cooks. For example, they're 0.4% more likely to graduate with a Master's Degree, and 0.1% more likely to earn a Doctoral Degree.

      Description Of a Grill Cook/Prep

      Now, we'll look at Grill Cook/Preps, who generally average a higher pay when compared to Line Cooks annual salary. In fact, the difference is about $639 per year.

      While their salaries may vary, Line Cooks and Grill Cook/Preps both use similar skills to perform their jobs. Resumes from both professions include skills like "Food Safety," "Kitchen Equipment," and "High Volume. "

      While some skills are shared by these professions, there are some differences to note. "Sanitation Standards," "High Quality," "Customer Service," and "Sous" are skills that have shown up on Line Cooks resumes. Additionally, Grill Cook/Prep uses skills like Menu Items, Fresh Food, Haccp, and Ticket Times on their resumes.

      Grill Cook/Preps reach similar levels of education when compared to Line Cooks. The difference is that they're 0.5% more likely to earn a Master's Degree less, and 0.2% less likely to graduate with a Doctoral Degree.