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Become A Prep Cook

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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

  • $17,681

    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
Head Cook 3.0 years
Cook/Trainer 2.9 years
Short Order Cook 2.1 years
Prep Cook 2.0 years
Breakfast Cook 1.9 years
Cook 1.9 years
Mexican Food Cook 1.9 years
Assistant Cook 1.9 years
Grill Cook/Prep 1.8 years
Cook/Server 1.7 years
Kitchen Cook 1.7 years
Deli Cook 1.6 years
Grill Cook 1.6 years
Cook/Dishwasher 1.6 years
Pizza Cook 1.5 years
Fry Cook 1.2 years
Top Employers Before
Cashier 16.2%
Cook 14.8%
Line Cook 6.9%
Server 4.7%
Manager 3.0%
Waitress 2.5%
Internship 2.4%
Teller 2.1%
Grill Cook 2.1%
Top Employers After
Cook 16.8%
Cashier 11.4%
Line Cook 9.8%
Server 4.9%
Chef 3.1%
Manager 2.9%
Sous Chef 2.6%
Grill Cook 2.1%
Driver 2.1%

Do you work as a Prep Cook?

Prep Cook Demographics

Gender

Male

57.0%

Female

41.1%

Unknown

1.9%
Ethnicity

White

62.4%

Hispanic or Latino

16.8%

Black or African American

11.0%

Asian

6.3%

Unknown

3.4%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

69.7%

French

10.2%

Italian

4.7%

German

3.5%

Portuguese

1.6%

Chinese

1.4%

Russian

1.2%

Japanese

1.0%

Polish

1.0%

Arabic

0.9%

Mandarin

0.8%

Tagalog

0.8%

Hawaiian

0.5%

Carrier

0.5%

Vietnamese

0.4%

Korean

0.4%

Filipino

0.4%

Greek

0.4%

Dutch

0.3%

Hebrew

0.3%
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Prep Cook Education

Schools

Johnson & Wales University

14.8%

University of Phoenix

11.5%

Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts

10.9%

Delgado Community College

5.8%

Culinary Institute of America

5.3%

Ashford University

4.8%

Kaplan University

4.4%

Southern New Hampshire University

4.1%

Pima Community College

4.1%

Valencia College

3.7%

Grand Rapids Community College

3.4%

Hinds Community College

3.4%

Community College of Allegheny County

3.3%

Sinclair Community College

3.2%

Henry Ford College

3.1%

The Academy

2.9%

Anne Arundel Community College

2.9%

Houston Community College

2.8%

Ultimate Medical Academy - Clearwater

2.8%

Columbus State Community College

2.8%
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Majors

Culinary Arts

24.5%

Business

16.4%

General Studies

6.8%

Criminal Justice

6.3%

Psychology

4.3%

Health Care Administration

4.0%

Nursing

3.8%

Medical Assisting Services

3.6%

Hospitality Management

3.6%

Computer Science

3.4%

Accounting

3.1%

Liberal Arts

2.7%

Graphic Design

2.5%

English

2.4%

Management

2.3%

Education

2.3%

Communication

2.2%

Automotive Technology

2.2%

Precision Metal Working

1.9%

Food And Nutrition

1.8%
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Degrees

Other

47.5%

Associate

20.0%

Bachelors

18.8%

Certificate

8.4%

Diploma

3.1%

Masters

1.6%

License

0.5%

Doctorate

0.1%
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Part Time
Internship
Temporary

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 15, 2016 $26,046
Prep Cook Black Diamond Resort Co Healy, AK Apr 20, 2016 $26,046
Korean Rice Cake Prep Cook Cho & So Inc. Philadelphia, PA Jun 12, 2016 $25,584
Korean Rice Cake Prep Cook Cho & So Inc. Philadelphia, PA Sep 28, 2016 $25,584
Prep Cook Limerick Dining Corp Limerick, PA Dec 22, 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 Cook Pamet Restaurant Group, Inc. Truro, MA Apr 15, 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 Dotombori, Inc. Oakton, VA Sep 16, 2015 $17,014
Prep Cook MUY Pizza Houston, LLC The Woodlands, TX Apr 04, 2016 $16,744
Prep Cook MUY Pizza Tejas LLC Corpus Christi, TX Dec 10, 2016 $16,744
Prep Cook MUY Pizza Tejas LLC Kingsville, TX Oct 20, 2016 $16,744
Prep Cook MUY Pizza Houston, LLC Houston, TX Oct 21, 2016 $16,744
Prep Cook MUY Pizza Houston, LLC Lake Jackson, TX Oct 21, 2016 $16,744
Prep Cook MUY Pizza Tejas LLC Kingsville, TX Oct 24, 2016 $16,744
Prep Cook MUY Pizza Houston, LLC Houston, TX Nov 16, 2016 $16,744
Prep Cook MUY Pizza Tejas LLC Robstown, TX Nov 16, 2016 $16,744

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Top Skills for A Prep Cook

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  1. Kitchen Equipment
  2. Food Safety
  3. Customer Service
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Organized kitchen equipment, and prepared ingredients for service Prepared and expedited hot and cold appetizers
  • Practice, monitor, and reinforce food safety procedures according to policy and health/sanitation regulations
  • Exercised customer service skills by greeting customers preparing ordered meals.
  • Cook varies types of food for guest, prep food for the next day or for special occasions.
  • Measured ingredients required for specific food items being prepared * Completed additional duties/tasks as assigned by Supervisor.

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Top 10 Best States for Prep Cooks

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

Top Prep Cook Employers

Jobs From Top Prep Cook Employers

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