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Working As a Prep 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

  • $21,000

    Average Salary

What Does A Prep 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 Prep 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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Average Length of Employment
Cook/Bartender 2.8 years
Cook/Trainer 2.8 years
Short Order Cook 2.3 years
Line Cook 2.1 years
Prep Cook 2.0 years
Cook 2.0 years
Assistant Cook 2.0 years
Grill Cook/Prep 1.9 years
Breakfast Cook 1.9 years
Kitchen Cook 1.8 years
Prep Chef 1.7 years
Snack Bar Cook 1.7 years
Grill Cook 1.7 years
Cook/Dishwasher 1.6 years
Pizza Cook 1.4 years
Fry Cook 1.3 years
Top Careers Before Prep Cook
Cashier 17.8%
Cook 14.8%
Line Cook 7.0%
Server 5.4%
Manager 2.8%
Internship 2.4%
Waitress 2.2%
Grill Cook 2.0%
Stocker 1.9%
Janitor 1.8%
Top Careers After Prep Cook
Cook 16.4%
Cashier 13.6%
Line Cook 10.0%
Server 5.7%
Chef 2.7%
Manager 2.6%
Sous Chef 2.6%
Driver 2.3%

Do you work as a Prep Cook?

Average Yearly Salary
$21,000
Show Salaries
$14,000
Min 10%
$21,000
Median 50%
$21,000
Median 50%
$21,000
Median 50%
$21,000
Median 50%
$21,000
Median 50%
$21,000
Median 50%
$21,000
Median 50%
$32,000
Max 90%
Best Paying Company
H-E-B
Highest Paying City
Seattle, WA
Highest Paying State
Washington
Avg Experience Level
1.7 years
How much does a Prep Cook make at top companies?
The national average salary for a Prep Cook in the United States is $22,015 per year or $11 per hour. Those in the bottom 10 percent make under $14,000 a year, and the top 10 percent make over $32,000.

Real Prep Cook Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Prep Cook Fuzzy Corp Falmouth, MA May 02, 2016 $27,694
Food Prep/Cook/Server Orientacion Hispana Corp. Sleepy Hollow, NY Dec 08, 2016 $27,660 -
$30,000
Prep Cook Black Diamond Resort Co Healy, AK Apr 20, 2016 $26,046
Prep Cook Black Diamond Resort Co Healy, AK Apr 15, 2016 $26,046
Prep Cook Limerick Dining Corp Limerick, PA Dec 22, 2016 $25,584
Korean Rice Cake Prep Cook Cho & So Inc. Philadelphia, PA Sep 28, 2016 $25,584
Korean Rice Cake Prep Cook Cho & So Inc. Philadelphia, PA Jun 12, 2016 $25,584
Prep Cook/Deli Worker 13609 Lakewood Hts., LLC Cleveland, OH Apr 01, 2015 $25,044
Sushi Prep Cook Advance Seong Inc. Dreher, PA Dec 01, 2016 $24,981
Prep Cooks Woodstock Resort Corporation Woodstock, VT Dec 12, 2016 $24,314
Prep Cook Nemacolin Woodlands Resport and Spa Farmington, PA May 12, 2016 $24,126
Prep Cooks Woodstock Resort Corporation Woodstock, VT Apr 15, 2016 $23,875
Prep Cooks JJG Chatham, Inc. Chatham, MA May 01, 2016 $23,354
Prep Cooks 54 Main Orleans, Inc. Orleans, MA Apr 20, 2016 $23,354
Prep Cook (Japanese Specialty) K.T. MODA, Inc. Glendale, CA Aug 17, 2015 $17,742
Prep Cook Hyekie Corporation Port Washington, NY Apr 12, 2015 $17,430
Prep Cook New Kang Chon Restaurant, Inc. Centreville, VA May 19, 2016 $17,222
Prep Cook Vinny's Italian Grill & Pizzeria Fredericksburg, VA Jul 27, 2015 $17,104
Server/Prep Cook Angel Fire Resort Operations, LLC Angel Fire, NM Nov 01, 2015 $17,072
Server/Prep Cook Angel Fire Resort Operations, LLC Angel Fire, NM May 01, 2015 $17,072
Prep Cook Vinny's Italian Grill & Pizzeria Fredericksburg, VA Jul 27, 2015 $17,014
Prep Cook MUY Pizza Houston, LLC La Marque, TX Apr 25, 2016 $16,744
Prep Cook MUY Pizza LLC Corpus Christi, TX Jan 26, 2016 $16,744
Prep Cook MUY Pizza LLC Corpus Christi, TX Feb 02, 2016 $16,744
Prep Cook MUY Pizza Houston, LLC Texas City, TX Mar 02, 2016 $16,744
Prep Cook MUY Pizza Houston, LLC Alvin, TX Mar 02, 2016 $16,744

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Top Skills for A Prep Cook

  1. Kitchen Equipment
  2. Food Preparation
  3. Salad Dressings
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Assist managers maintain inventory -Prepped food by correct ingredients, monitored product expiration -Broke down and cleaned all kitchen equipment
  • Cleaned and maintained food preparation areas including cooking surfaces, utensils, and refrigeration equipment.
  • Created signature house salsas, assisted cooks by Preparing various side dishes, appetizers, signature salads and salad dressings.
  • Provided excellent customer service, including greeting customers enthusiastically, cleaning and organizing the designated seating areas and food prep mechanisms.
  • Prepare food orders in good timing and provide excellent tasting food, prep food, keep organized, stocked and clean.

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Average Salary:

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Top 10 Best States for Prep Cooks

  1. Nevada
  2. Minnesota
  3. Hawaii
  4. Washington
  5. Alaska
  6. Oregon
  7. Rhode Island
  8. Vermont
  9. Wyoming
  10. Massachusetts
  • (434 jobs)
  • (1,072 jobs)
  • (157 jobs)
  • (857 jobs)
  • (60 jobs)
  • (564 jobs)
  • (121 jobs)
  • (83 jobs)
  • (73 jobs)
  • (811 jobs)

Prep Cook Resume Examples And Tips

The average resume reviewer spends between 5 to 7 seconds looking at a single resume, which leaves the average job applier with roughly six seconds to make a killer first impression. Thanks to this, a single typo or error on your resume can disqualify you right out of the gate. At Zippia, we went through over 85,689 Prep Cook resumes and compiled some information about how best to optimize them. Here are some suggestions based on what we found, divided by the individual sections of the resume itself.

Learn How To Create A Top Notch Prep Cook Resume

View Resume Examples

Prep Cook Demographics

Gender

Male

52.3%

Female

34.7%

Unknown

12.9%
Ethnicity

White

61.4%

Hispanic or Latino

16.2%

Black or African American

11.6%

Asian

7.6%

Unknown

3.2%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

71.4%

French

10.4%

German

3.3%

Italian

3.1%

Portuguese

1.7%

Chinese

1.4%

Russian

1.1%

Japanese

1.0%

Arabic

1.0%

Mandarin

0.9%

Polish

0.8%

Vietnamese

0.7%

Tagalog

0.7%

Thai

0.5%

Korean

0.4%

Carrier

0.4%

Hebrew

0.4%

Swedish

0.3%

Hawaiian

0.3%

Filipino

0.3%
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Prep Cook Education

Schools

Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts

15.3%

Johnson & Wales University

13.1%

The Academy

12.3%

University of Phoenix

10.3%

Culinary Institute of America

5.1%

Kaplan University

3.8%

Delgado Community College

3.6%

Everest Institute

3.5%

Ashford University

3.4%

Cuyahoga Community College

3.3%

Pima Community College

2.9%

Valencia College

2.8%

Ivy Tech Community College of Indiana

2.8%

Stratford University

2.7%

Community College of Philadelphia

2.7%

Miami Dade College

2.7%

Art Institute of California - Inland

2.5%

Houston Community College

2.4%

Sullivan University

2.4%

Southern New Hampshire University

2.3%
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Majors

Culinary Arts

28.4%

Business

15.3%

General Studies

6.7%

Criminal Justice

5.5%

Nursing

4.3%

Medical Assisting Services

4.1%

Health Care Administration

3.9%

Psychology

3.9%

Hospitality Management

3.4%

Computer Science

3.1%

Accounting

2.8%

Graphic Design

2.4%

Liberal Arts

2.3%

Education

2.1%

Automotive Technology

2.1%

Food And Nutrition

2.0%

Management

2.0%

Communication

1.9%

English

1.9%

Cosmetology

1.8%
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Degrees

Other

46.5%

Associate

21.1%

Bachelors

17.3%

Certificate

9.1%

Diploma

3.9%

Masters

1.3%

License

0.6%

Doctorate

0.2%
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