Prepare, season, and cook dishes such as soups, meats, vegetables, or desserts in restaurants. May order supplies, keep records and accounts, price items on menu, or plan menu.
Sample of reported job titles: Back Line Cook, Banquet Cook, Breakfast Cook, Cook, Fry Cook, Grill Cook, Line Cook, Pastry Baker, Prep Cook (Preparation Cook)
Tasks | Tools & Technology | Knowledge | Skills | Abilities | Work Activities | Detailed Work Activities | Work Context | Job Zone | Education | Credentials | Interests | Work Styles | Work Values | Related Occupations | Wages & Employment | Job Openings | Additional Information
- Inspect and clean food preparation areas, such as equipment and work surfaces, or serving areas to ensure safe and sanitary food-handling practices.
- Ensure food is stored and cooked at correct temperature by regulating temperature of ovens, broilers, grills, and roasters.
- Ensure freshness of food and ingredients by checking for quality, keeping track of old and new items, and rotating stock.
- Turn or stir foods to ensure even cooking.
- Season and cook food according to recipes or personal judgment and experience.
- Bake, roast, broil, and steam meats, fish, vegetables, and other foods.
- Weigh, measure, and mix ingredients according to recipes or personal judgment, using various kitchen utensils and equipment.
- Portion, arrange, and garnish food, and serve food to waiters or patrons.
- Observe and test foods to determine if they have been cooked sufficiently, using methods such as tasting, smelling, or piercing them with utensils.
- Wash, peel, cut, and seed fruits and vegetables to prepare them for consumption.
- Carve and trim meats such as beef, veal, ham, pork, and lamb for hot or cold service, or for sandwiches.
- 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.
- Keep records and accounts.
- Coordinate and supervise work of kitchen staff.
- Prepare relishes and hors d'oeuvres.
- Estimate expected food consumption, requisition or purchase supplies, or procure food from storage.
- Butcher and dress animals, fowl, or shellfish, or cut and bone meat prior to cooking.
- Plan and price menu items.
- Bake breads, rolls, cakes, and pastries.
Tools & Technology
Tools used in this occupation:
- Commercial use blenders — Blenders
- Commercial use broilers — Charbroilers
- Commercial use convection ovens — Convection ovens
- Commercial use cutlery — Boning knives; Chefs' knives; Paring knives
- Commercial use deep fryers — Fryers
- Commercial use food grinders — Grinders
- Commercial use food slicers — Food slicing machines
- Commercial use griddles — Griddles
- Commercial use grills — Gas grills
- Commercial use microwave ovens — Commercial microwave ovens
- Commercial use ovens — Conveyor ovens; Rotating rack ovens; Salamander ovens
- Commercial use pasta cookers — Pasta cookers
- Commercial use pizza ovens — Pizza ovens
- Commercial use ranges — Wok ranges
- Commercial use rotisseries — Rotisserie ovens
- Commercial use smokers or smoke ovens — Smoking cabinets
- Commercial use steamers — Food steamers
- Cutting machinery — Meat saws
- Domestic knives — Cimeter knives; Filet knives; Utility cutlery
- Personal computers
- Point of sale POS terminal — Point of sale POS computer terminals
- Slicing machinery — Meat and cheese slicing machines
Technology used in this occupation:
- Compliance software — Food safety labeling systems
- Data base user interface and query software — Menu planning software
- Inventory management software
- Materials requirements planning logistics and supply chain software — Recipe cost control software
- Point of sale POS software — Point of sale POS restaurant software
- Spreadsheet software — Microsoft Excel
Hot Technology — a technology requirement frequently included in employer job postings.
- Food Production — Knowledge of techniques and equipment for planting, growing, and harvesting food products (both plant and animal) for consumption, including storage/handling techniques.
- Production and Processing — Knowledge of raw materials, production processes, quality control, costs, and other techniques for maximizing the effective manufacture and distribution of goods.
- Coordination — Adjusting actions in relation to others' actions.
- 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.
- 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 there is a problem.
- Arm-Hand Steadiness — The ability to keep your hand and arm steady while moving your arm or while holding your arm and hand in one position.
- 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 Clarity — The ability to speak clearly so others can understand you.
- Speech Recognition — The ability to identify and understand the speech of another person.
- Category Flexibility — The ability to generate or use different sets of rules for combining or grouping things in different ways.
- Near Vision — The ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).
- Oral Comprehension — The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
- Oral Expression — The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
- Trunk Strength — The ability to use your abdominal and lower back muscles to support part of the body repeatedly or continuously over time without 'giving out' or fatiguing.
- Visual Color Discrimination — The ability to match or detect differences between colors, including shades of color and brightness.
- Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events — Identifying information by categorizing, estimating, recognizing differences or similarities, and detecting changes in circumstances or events.
- Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates — Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.
- Getting Information — Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
- Monitor Processes, Materials, or Surroundings — Monitoring and reviewing information from materials, events, or the environment, to detect or assess problems.
- Performing General Physical Activities — Performing physical activities that require considerable use of your arms and legs and moving your whole body, such as climbing, lifting, balancing, walking, stooping, and handling of materials.
- Inspecting Equipment, Structures, or Material — Inspecting equipment, structures, or materials to identify the cause of errors or other problems or defects.
- Training and Teaching Others — Identifying the educational needs of others, developing formal educational or training programs or classes, and teaching or instructing others.
- Handling and Moving Objects — Using hands and arms in handling, installing, positioning, and moving materials, and manipulating things.
- Judging the Qualities of Things, Services, or People — Assessing the value, importance, or quality of things or people.
- Evaluating Information to Determine Compliance with Standards — Using relevant information and individual judgment to determine whether events or processes comply with laws, regulations, or standards.
- Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships — Developing constructive and cooperative working relationships with others, and maintaining them over time.
- Organizing, Planning, and Prioritizing Work — Developing specific goals and plans to prioritize, organize, and accomplish your work.
- Making Decisions and Solving Problems — Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.
- Coordinating the Work and Activities of Others — Getting members of a group to work together to accomplish tasks.
Detailed Work Activities
- Plan menu options.
- Order materials, supplies, or equipment.
- Cook foods.
- Arrange food for serving.
- Clean food preparation areas, facilities, or equipment.
- Prepare breads or doughs.
- Prepare foods for cooking or serving.
- Record operational or production data.
- Cut cooked or raw foods.
- Check quality of foods or supplies.
- Estimate supplies, ingredients, or staff requirements for food preparation activities.
- Maintain food, beverage, or equipment inventories.
- Inspect facilities, equipment or supplies to ensure conformance to standards.
- Serve food or beverages.
- Assess equipment functioning.
- Coordinate activities of food service staff.
- Mix ingredients.
- Measure ingredients.
- Determine prices for menu items.
- Assist chefs or caterers with food or drink preparation.
- Spend Time Standing — 83% responded “Continually or almost continually.”
- Face-to-Face Discussions — 80% responded “Every day.”
- Spend Time Using Your Hands to Handle, Control, or Feel Objects, Tools, or Controls — 64% responded “Continually or almost continually.”
- Contact With Others — 68% responded “Constant contact with others.”
- Exposed to Minor Burns, Cuts, Bites, or Stings — 52% responded “Every day.”
- Work With Work Group or Team — 45% responded “Extremely important.”
- Physical Proximity — 59% responded “Moderately close (at arm's length).”
- Very Hot or Cold Temperatures — 70% responded “Every day.”
- Indoors, Environmentally Controlled — 71% responded “Every day.”
- Spend Time Making Repetitive Motions — 37% responded “More than half the time.”
- Time Pressure — 45% responded “Every day.”
- Frequency of Decision Making — 44% responded “Every day.”
- Importance of Being Exact or Accurate — 34% responded “Important.”
- Spend Time Walking and Running — 35% responded “More than half the time.”
- Impact of Decisions on Co-workers or Company Results — 28% responded “Very important results.”
- Responsible for Others' Health and Safety — 28% responded “Very high responsibility.”
- Structured versus Unstructured Work — 35% responded “Some freedom.”
- Wear Common Protective or Safety Equipment such as Safety Shoes, Glasses, Gloves, Hearing Protection, Hard Hats, or Life Jackets — 53% responded “Every day.”
- Exposed to Contaminants — 44% responded “Every day.”
- Responsibility for Outcomes and Results — 36% responded “Moderate responsibility.”
- Duration of Typical Work Week — 40% responded “40 hours.”
- Freedom to Make Decisions — 27% responded “Some freedom.”
- Coordinate or Lead Others — 38% responded “Fairly important.”
- Deal With Unpleasant or Angry People — 31% responded “Every day.”
|Title||Job Zone Two: Some Preparation Needed|
|Education||These occupations usually require a high school diploma.|
|Related Experience||Some previous work-related skill, knowledge, or experience is usually needed. For example, a teller would benefit from experience working directly with the public.|
|Job Training||Employees in these occupations need anywhere from a few months to one year of working with experienced employees. A recognized apprenticeship program may be associated with these occupations.|
|Job Zone Examples||These occupations often involve using your knowledge and skills to help others. Examples include orderlies, forest firefighters, customer service representatives, security guards, upholsterers, and tellers.|
|SVP Range||(4.0 to < 6.0)|
Percentage of Respondents
|Education Level Required|
|38||High school diploma or equivalent|
|33||Less than high school diploma|
|11||Some college, no degree|
Interest code: RE
- Realistic — 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.
- Enterprising — 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.
- Dependability — Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.
- Self Control — Job requires maintaining composure, keeping emotions in check, controlling anger, and avoiding aggressive behavior, even in very difficult situations.
- Attention to Detail — Job requires being careful about detail and thorough in completing work tasks.
- Cooperation — Job requires being pleasant with others on the job and displaying a good-natured, cooperative attitude.
- Stress Tolerance — Job requires accepting criticism and dealing calmly and effectively with high stress situations.
- Support — Occupations that satisfy this work value offer supportive management that stands behind employees. Corresponding needs are Company Policies, Supervision: Human Relations and Supervision: Technical.
- 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. Corresponding needs are Co-workers, Moral Values and Social Service.
- Independence — Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to work on their own and make decisions. Corresponding needs are Creativity, Responsibility and Autonomy.
Wages & Employment Trends
|Median wages (2015)||$11.11 hourly, $23,100 annual|
|Employment (2014)||1,110,000 employees|
|Projected growth (2014-2024)||Much faster than average (14% or higher)|
|Projected job openings (2014-2024)||452,500|
|Top industries (2014)||Accommodation and Food Services|
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics 2015 wage data and 2014-2024 employment projections . "Projected growth" represents the estimated change in total employment over the projections period (2014-2024). "Projected job openings" represent openings due to growth and replacement.
Job Openings on the Web
Sources of Additional Information
Disclaimer: Sources are listed to provide additional information on related jobs, specialties, and/or industries. Links to non-DOL Internet sites are provided for your convenience and do not constitute an endorsement.
- Cooks . Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor. Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition.
- American Culinary Federation (ACF) , 180 Center Pl. Way, St. Augustine, FL 32095. Phone: (800) 624-9458. Fax: (904) 825-4758.
- International Council on Hotel, Restaurant, and Institutional Education (ICHRIE) , 2613 N. Parham Rd., 2nd Floor, Richmond, VA 23294-4442. Phone: (804) 346-4800. Fax: (804) 346-5009.
- National Restaurant Association (NRA) , 1200 17th St. NW, Washington, DC 20036. Phone: (202) 331-5900.