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Job Descriptions


Cooks will most often work in a kitchen located in a restaurant or cafeteria cooking food items. If you are a cook, you will have some clearly defined and repetitive tasks (e.g., chopping food items and cooking meals, cleaning your workspace).


This job usually requires a high school diploma and/or a GED certificate. In addition, some employers may specifically require a culinary education or other certifications (e.g., Food Handler certification). If this is the case, they will specify this requirement in their job advertisements.

Previous Experience

Previous experience working as a cook in a similar setting or any type of professional cooking experience is preferred.
Although many employers prefer that you have previous experience in the same or similar area of employment, it is strongly encouraged that you apply anyways if you have the required education and skills.

Job Duties

  • Clean and inspect kitchen equipment and appliances to ensure that everything is functioning smoothly.
  • Clean and inspect work areas to ensure the kitchen is up to health and safety standards.
  • Cook and prepare food items and individual dishes according to the given menu and orders coming from wait staff. This includes using the stove top, oven, and microwave.
  • Clean, cut, and cook meat, fish, or poultry and chop vegetables.
  • Mix, pour, and stir pots in order to properly prepare menu items.
  • Plate food items according to the menu.
  • Bake any breads, rolls, or other baked goods.
  • Wash pots, pans, kitchen utensils, and/or any other cooking equipment.
  • Keep records of food items, supplies, and equipment, and take inventory of items that need to be ordered.
  • Train other cooks, wait staff, and/or kitchen helpers.
  • Your employer may ask you to carry out additional duties than those listed here.

What’s Your Scene?

This job requires that you are able to work ‘Behind of the Scene’. If you are working as a cook, you may not have to talk with customers on a regular basis, but you will be working near customers.  You will be required to speak with and interact with co-workers to receive food orders, and to direct them regarding kitchen tasks. You will also be required to speak with your manager to inform them of any kitchen-related needs. 

Skills / Abilities

Food Production - Ability and knowledge of techniques for food preparation, cooking, and food storage/handling.

Kitchenware Operation - Ability and knowledge to operate large kitchen equipment and other kitchen ware.

Oral Expression - You will be required to speak clearly and effectively as well as be able to write and spell correctly.

Reading Comprehension - Demonstrated ability to read, and follow written instructions and ideas.

Oral Comprehension - Demonstrated ability to understand and follow verbal instructions and ideas.

Manual Dexterity - This job requires the repeated and coordinated use of your arms, hands, wrists, and fingers to use kitchen utensils (e.g., knives, spatulas) and prepare meals.

Ability to Follow Health and Safety Procedures - Working in the food service industry requires that you closely follow safety, sanitation and food handling procedures (health and safety rules). You will need to be able to carry out these procedures and follow these rules for the safety of restaurant patrons and your employer. Cleanliness is an important part of following health and safety codes.

Environmental Demands

Location - Kitchens are located indoors, and while a restaurant may be a climate-controlled setting, kitchens tend to become quite hot due to the heat coming from the stoves, grills, etc. In addition, most kitchens will have a walk-in fridge/freezer, and there will be times you will need to get items from the fridge/freezer.

Noise Level - The noise level will be moderate to loud and may involve people shouting over the noise of grills, fryers, and boiling pots.

Lighting Level - Kitchens typically use florescent lighting.

Work Hours - This job may have short working shifts. Most restaurants are open from morning to evening, and will have varied hours depending on the type of restaurant you work in. For example, you may work in a restaurant that only serves breakfast and lunch, or a restaurant that only serves lunch and dinner. You will need to check with your supervisor for the schedule.

Amount of Movement - This job typically requires that you stand for long periods of time. You will need to be able to sit, stand, walk, bend, reach, lift, and carry items for this job. For example, you may need reach for a box of frozen vegetables from the freezer, and carry them to the counter.

Cleanliness and Odors - This job setting can get messy as you will be cooking and food may splatter on you. For health and safety reasons, you will be required to always wash your hands after touching certain food items (e.g., raw meats) or after going to the bathroom. In addition, if you work in the kitchen, you will need to tolerate the smell of food cooking (e.g., raw meat cooking or certain types of sauces).

Work Attire - Work attire will typically be casual clothing, however, most employees working in a kitchen are required to wear hats or hairnets, aprons, and sometimes gloves. 

Structure and Predictability - This job will typically have a lower degree of predictability and structure.  This means that you might not do the same tasks each day (e.g., cooking different food items), and these tasks might be completed in a different order each day.  You might not always know ahead of time how long each task will take to complete.  Although you will work in the same location each day (e.g., the kitchen), you might not interact with the same people (e.g., wait staff) each day. 

What's the Pace?

    • Steady: In most cases, the work pace will be steady, which means that there will always be several (2-3) food dishes for you to prepare. 
    • Peak: There might be other times when the restaurant is very busy and there are many (8 or more) meals to prepare. This may be a more stressful period because customers are waiting for their meals and you have to keep track of several things cooking at the same time.
    • Slow:  There may also be some "down time," when there are very few customers in the restaurant.  This may be a more boring period, where you are required to just wait for something to do. 

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