What does a Cook do?
Cooks are responsible for providing a pleasurable dining experience for customers by preparing high quality food. This usually means managing all asepcts of food preparation and production in an environment that meets sanitation guidelines. Their duties can range from preparing ingredients to be cooked, to being responsible for grilling all foods.
Cooks must have a high school diploma or general education degree (GED). It is oftentimes preferred that cooks have a culinary certification or degree. The best cooks are good at teamwork, show attention to detail, and demonstrate strong communication skills.
- Prepare food items for customers as requested, including special requests, in a timely and consistent manner
- Determine food and supply needs based on rotating menus
- Inspect food products and supplies as needed
- Ensure work environment and stations are clean and sanitized
- Check food before it is served to customers
- Control and minimize waste
- Comply with outlined safety regulations and procedures
- High school diploma or general education degree (GED) required
- Culinary certification or degree from a culinary school preferred
- 2-3 years food service or restaurant experience required
- Ability to lift and carry up to 30 pounds
- Comfortable standing, stopping, squatting, twisting, and moving frequently
- Ability to pass a food service sanitation course
- Familiarity with general kitchen equipment and applicances
- Strong working knowledge of food preparation techniques, cooking methods, and safety and sanitation practices
- Ability to read, comprehend, and follow recipes
How much does a Cook make?
Cook Career Path
Learn how to become a Cook, what skills and education you need to succeed, and what level of pay to expect at each step on your career path.
Years of Experience Distribution
“It was enjoyable and I had several opportunities to grow and continue my school work while maintaining a good work”
“People are rude and care about themselves and there is no such thing as a “team.””
“Good hourly pay and yeah the pay essentially that’s all I have to say about the pros to this place”
“terrible communication its been 4 weeks and i still haven't been paid all in all its a terrible job”
“Great management always got my hours and made work fun and enjoyable would recommend working at the heights location”
“At least in my location our kitchen crew was pretty solid and all could have a good time while working.”
“Amazing people and the owner Brett will be one of the best people you'll ever work for.”
“Corporate was terrible.... never closed on any holidays and don't pay holiday pay either.”
Frequently asked questions about the role and responsibilities of cooks
Cooks spend their workday ensuring food and ingredient freshness, weighing and measuring for recipes, and preparing dishes for consumption by customers. Cooks must also maintain a clean workspace and kitchen equipment. They must follow industry guidelines to ensure food is cooked, stored, and served at safe temperatures.
Being a cook is a rewarding career for those who are creative and enjoy inventing different flavor combinations in the kitchen. Although becoming a cook doesn't require a specific level of education, many establishments seek individuals with some level of trade training or experiential knowledge. Having a working understanding of the restaurant industry can make this role more rewarding in the fast-paced industry.
Successful cooks get paid well. The average base pay for a cook in the United States is $34,926 per year. The salary varies depending on years of experience, educational background, and culinary specialty. Some cooks become business owners and open their own restaurants.
Working as a cook can be demanding at times, as it entails guiding an entire kitchen and sometimes waitstaff to provide a pleasurable dining experience for customers. Cooks must be adept at multitasking, good at teamwork, and have strong communication skills.