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Career profile Restaurant Cook

Also known as Appetizer Preparer, Back Line Cook, Banquet Cook, Breakfast Cook, Broil Cook, Cook, Fry Cook, Grill Cook, Line Cook, Prep Cook (Preparation Cook)

Restaurant Cook

Also known as Appetizer Preparer, Back Line Cook, Banquet Cook

Interests Profile
  • Realistic
  • Enterprising
  • Artistic
Pay Range
$20,100 - $39,840 (annual)
Required Skills
  • Monitoring
  • Active Listening
  • Speaking
Knowledge Areas
  • Food Production
  • Customer and Personal Service
  • Production and Processing
Core tasks
  • Inspect and clean food preparation areas, such as equipment and work surfaces, or serving areas to ensure safe and sanitary food-handling practices.
  • Ensure freshness of food and ingredients by checking for quality, keeping track of old and new items, and rotating stock.
  • Ensure food is stored and cooked at correct temperature by regulating temperature of ovens, broilers, grills, and roasters.
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What does a Restaurant Cook do?

Restaurant Cooks prepare, season, and cook dishes such as soups, meats, vegetables, or desserts in restaurants.

In addition, Restaurant Cooks may order supplies, keep records and accounts, price items on menu, or plan menu.

What kind of tasks does a Restaurant Cook perform regularly?

Restaurant Cooks are often responsible for overseeing or executing some or all of the following tasks:

  • Inspect and clean food preparation areas, such as equipment and work surfaces, or serving areas to ensure safe and sanitary food-handling practices.
  • Ensure freshness of food and ingredients by checking for quality, keeping track of old and new items, and rotating stock.
  • Ensure food is stored and cooked at correct temperature by regulating temperature of ovens, broilers, grills, and roasters.
  • Season and cook food according to recipes or personal judgment and experience.
  • Turn or stir foods to ensure even cooking.
  • Observe and test foods to determine if they have been cooked sufficiently, using methods such as tasting, smelling, or piercing them with utensils.
  • Portion, arrange, and garnish food, and serve food to waiters or patrons.
  • Weigh, measure, and mix ingredients according to recipes or personal judgment, using various kitchen utensils and equipment.
  • Bake, roast, broil, and steam meats, fish, vegetables, and other foods.
  • Wash, peel, cut, and seed fruits and vegetables to prepare them for consumption.
  • Coordinate and supervise work of kitchen staff.
  • Estimate expected food consumption, requisition or purchase supplies, or procure food from storage.
  • Substitute for or assist other cooks during emergencies or rush periods.
  • Consult with supervisory staff to plan menus, taking into consideration factors such as costs and special event needs.
  • Prepare relishes and hors d'oeuvres.
  • Carve and trim meats such as beef, veal, ham, pork, and lamb for hot or cold service, or for sandwiches.
  • Bake breads, rolls, cakes, and pastries.

The above responsibilities are specific to Restaurant Cooks. More generally, Restaurant Cooks are involved in several broader types of activities:

Getting Information
Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates
Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.
Monitoring Processes, Materials, or Surroundings
Monitoring and reviewing information from materials, events, or the environment, to detect or assess problems.
Inspecting Equipment, Structures, or Materials
Inspecting equipment, structures, or materials to identify the cause of errors or other problems or defects.
Handling and Moving Objects
Using hands and arms in handling, installing, positioning, and moving materials, and manipulating things.

What is a Restaurant Cook salary?

The median salary for a Restaurant Cook is $28,800, and the average salary is $29,530. Both the median and average roughly describe the middle of the Restaurant Cook salary range, but the average is more easily affected by extremely high or low salaries.

Many Restaurant Cooks earn significantly more or less than the average, due to several factors. About 10% of Restaurant Cooks earn less than $20,100 per year, 25% earn less than $24,210, 75% earn less than $33,550, and 90% earn less than $39,840.

Between the years of 2020 and 2030, the number of Restaurant Cooks is expected to change by 48.9%, and there should be roughly 263,600 open positions for Restaurant Cooks every year.

Median annual salary
$28,800
Typical salary range
$20,100 - $39,840
Projected growth (2020 - 2030)
48.9%

What personality traits are common among Restaurant Cooks?

Interests

Career interests describe a person's preferences for different types of working environments and activities. When a person's interest match the demands of an occupation, people are usually more engaged and satisfied in that role.

Compared to most occupations, those who work as a Restaurant Cook are usually higher in their Realistic and Enterprising interests.

Restaurant Cooks typically have very strong Realistic interests. Realistic occupations frequently involve work activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They often deal with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery. Many of the occupations require working outside, and do not involve a lot of paperwork or working closely with others.

Also, Restaurant Cooks typically have moderate Enterprising interests. Enterprising occupations frequently involve starting up and carrying out projects. These occupations can involve leading people and making many decisions. Sometimes they require risk taking and often deal with business.

Values

People differ in their values, or what is most important to them for building job satisfaction and fulfillment.

Compared to most people, those working as a Restaurant Cook tend to value Support, Relationships, and Independence.

Most importantly, Restaurant Cooks moderately value Support. Occupations that satisfy this work value offer supportive management that stands behind employees.

Second, Restaurant Cooks moderately value Relationships. Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to provide service to others and work with co-workers in a friendly non-competitive environment.

Lastly, Restaurant Cooks moderately value Independence. Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to work on their own and make decisions.

Psychological Demands

Each occupation brings its own set of psychological demands, which describe the characteristics necessary to perform the job well.

In order to perform their job successfully, people who work as Restaurant Cooks must consistently demonstrate qualities such as cooperation, dependability, and attention to detail.

Below, you'll find a list of qualities typically required of Restaurant Cooks, ranked by importance:

Cooperation
Job requires being pleasant with others on the job and displaying a good-natured, cooperative attitude.
Dependability
Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.
Attention to Detail
Job requires being careful about detail and thorough in completing work tasks.
Stress Tolerance
Job requires accepting criticism and dealing calmly and effectively with high-stress situations.
Self-Control
Job requires maintaining composure, keeping emotions in check, controlling anger, and avoiding aggressive behavior, even in very difficult situations.

What education and training do Restaurant Cooks need?

Working as a Restaurant Cook usually requires a high school diploma.

Restaurant Cooks need anywhere from a few months to one year of working with experienced employees. A recognized apprenticeship program may be associated with this occupation.

Educational degrees among Restaurant Cooks

  • 27.3% did not complete high school or secondary school
  • 41.9% completed high school or secondary school
  • 18.5% completed some college coursework
  • 6.1% earned a Associate's degree
  • 5.4% earned a Bachelor's degree
  • 0.7% earned a Master's degree
  • 0.2% earned a doctorate or professional degree

Knowledge and expertise required by Restaurant Cooks

Restaurant Cooks may benefit from understanding of specialized subject areas, such as food production, customer and personal service, or production and processing knowledge.

The list below shows several areas in which most Restaurant Cooks might want to build proficiency, ranked by importance.

Food Production
Knowledge of techniques and equipment for planting, growing, and harvesting food products (both plant and animal) for consumption, including storage/handling techniques.
Customer and Personal Service
Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.
Production and Processing
Knowledge of raw materials, production processes, quality control, costs, and other techniques for maximizing the effective manufacture and distribution of goods.
Administration and Management
Knowledge of business and management principles involved in strategic planning, resource allocation, human resources modeling, leadership technique, production methods, and coordination of people and resources.
Education and Training
Knowledge of principles and methods for curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.

Important Abilities needed by Restaurant Cooks

Restaurant Cooks must develop a particular set of abilities to perform their job well. Abilities are individual capacities that influence a person's information processing, sensory perception, motor coordination, and physical strength or endurance. Individuals may naturally have certain abilities without explicit training, but most abilities can be sharpened somewhat through practice.

For example, Restaurant Cooks need abilities such as near vision, problem sensitivity, and information ordering in order to perform their job at a high level. The list below shows several important abilities for Restaurant Cooks, ranked by their relative importance.

Near Vision
The ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).
Problem Sensitivity
The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing that there is a problem.
Information Ordering
The ability to arrange things or actions in a certain order or pattern according to a specific rule or set of rules (e.g., patterns of numbers, letters, words, pictures, mathematical operations).
Manual Dexterity
The ability to quickly move your hand, your hand together with your arm, or your two hands to grasp, manipulate, or assemble objects.
Speech Recognition
The ability to identify and understand the speech of another person.

Critical Skills needed by Restaurant Cooks

Skills are developed capacities that enable people to function effectively in real-world settings. Unlike abilities, skills are typically easier to build through practice and experience. Skills influence effectiveness in areas such as learning, working with others, design, troubleshooting, and more.

Restaurant Cooks frequently use skills like monitoring, active listening, and speaking to perform their job effectively. The list below shows several critical skills for Restaurant Cooks, ranked by their relative importance.

Monitoring
Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.
Active Listening
Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
Speaking
Talking to others to convey information effectively.
Critical Thinking
Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions, or approaches to problems.
Coordination
Adjusting actions in relation to others' actions.

What is the source of this information?

The information provided on this page is adapted from data and descriptions published by the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration under the CC BY 4.0 license. TraitLab has modified some information for ease of use and reading, and the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment, and Training Administration has not approved, endorsed, or tested these modifications.

If you have any questions or suggestions about this information, please send a message.