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Cook and Chef Job Description, Career as a Cook and Chef, Salary, Employment - Definition and Nature of the Work, Education and Training Requirements, Getting the Job

cooks chefs food restaurant

Education and Training: High school plus training

Salary: Varies—see profile

Employment Outlook: Good

Definition and Nature of the Work

Cooks and chefs are the mainstay of the food service industry. They work in restaurants, cafeterias, lunchrooms, hotels, and other places that prepare and serve food. Cooks and chefs mainly plan menus and prepare food for customers. Their specific duties vary depending on the type and size of the establishment for which they work.

Most restaurants have only one or two short-order cooks who make hamburgers, sandwiches, salads, and other food items that can be prepared and served quickly. Other restaurants hire a cooking staff made up of dishwashers, kitchen helpers, cooks, and a head cook or chef. Unlike the short-order cook who prepares many foods, a cook in a large restaurant usually becomes an expert in one kind of food. There are pastry chefs, fry cooks, roast cooks, vegetable cooks, soup cooks, and others. These cooks are assisted by kitchen helpers. A chef supervises the cooks and oversees all of the cooking done in the kitchen. Besides seeing that the food is tasty and well plated (attractive to look at), chefs decide on the size of the servings, set prices, plan menus, and order the appropriate amount of supplies. It is their duty to check all of the equipment in the kitchen to see that it is in good condition.

There are many types of restaurants offering many kinds of food. Cooking methods vary considerably. Stir-frying a Chinese dish is quite different from Chefs may work with other restaurant staff to order the supplies and ingredients they need for the kitchen. (© Martha Tabor/Working Images Photographs. Reproduced by permission.) broiling a steak. A small cafe is likely to have a modest menu that rarely changes. A large restaurant may serve many items, some of which may be difficult to prepare. Whether the restaurant is large or small, or serves Chinese or soul food, its reputation is in the hands of its cooks. A good cook can make even the smallest cafe a resounding success.

Cooking is an art. Cooks create new dishes and improve on familiar ones. Good cooks are those who can prepare simple foods well. Great cooks are those who can invent new and delicious dishes. The great ones are highly paid for their skill and sometimes become celebrities.

Many cooks work in restaurants. Schools, colleges, hotels, hospitals, government agencies, the armed services, manufacturing plants, and private clubs also hire cooks. Whether they work for an elegant French restaurant or an elementary school, cooks must take pride in their work and aim to please their customers.

Education and Training Requirements

Cooks and chefs need a great deal of knowledge and experience working with food. The minimum requirement is a high school education plus on-the-job training. High schools, vocational or technical schools, two-year and four-year colleges, adult education programs, and the armed services all offer cooking programs and courses. Most courses run from two months to two years. Many employers will hire only those candidates who have earned a cooking diploma. Some cooks begin as dishwashers or kitchen helpers. These jobs enable workers to obtain restaurant experience and to observe and learn from experienced cooks and chefs.

Cooks should have a keen sense of taste and smell and must enjoy food preparation. They also must be clean, neat, and healthy. Cooks must order specific quantities of food at certain prices while staying within their budget; therefore, they should have some mathematical aptitude.

Getting the Job

Prospective cooks and chefs should apply directly to the establishments for which they would like to work. Small restaurants and cafes offer the greatest number of starting jobs. Vocational school students can contact their placement office for assistance in finding a job. Newspaper want ads, Internet job banks, and private and state employment offices frequently list job openings for cooks and chefs.

Advancement Possibilities and Employment Outlook

Graduates of vocational schools and other programs can usually find jobs as cooks immediately, but it takes several years before they can become head cooks or chefs in a fine restaurant. Restaurant training programs vary in their promotion policies. Most cooks find that moving from restaurant to restaurant gives them higher paying positions and a greater variety of experience. After several years cooks may decide to go into business as caterers or restaurant owners. Good business sense, fine cooking skills, and a lot of money are required to run a successful food service business. Some cooks become vocational school teachers.

Employment is expected to increase as fast as the average for cooks and chefs through the year 2014. Most job openings will be to replace workers who retire or change jobs, and jobs at the best restaurants will continue to be highly competitive. Population growth, higher average incomes, and more leisure time continues to fuel the trend of dining out in America, which bodes well for future cooks and chefs.

Working Conditions

Most kitchens are air-conditioned, have convenient work areas and modern equipment, and are well organized. Despite these conveniences, cooks and chefs require stamina and physical strength. They work near hot ovens, grills, and ranges in a very noisy and chaotic environment. Cooks stand most of the time, and they must have the strength to lift heavy pots and kettles.

Cooks and chefs typically work forty to forty-eight hours per week, including nights and weekends. Holiday work is common. Those who cook in school cafeterias work only nine or ten months each year. Cooks usually wear uniforms, and some employers provide uniforms or uniform allowances.

Cooks and chefs must be able to work under pressure during rush hours. They should enjoy working as part of a team and be able to organize and direct the kitchen staff effectively. Head cooks and chefs work with little or no supervision; other kitchen helpers work under their direction.

Where to Go for More Information

American Culinary Federation
180 Center Place Way
St. Augustine, FL 32095
(800) 624-9458
http://www.acfchefs.org/

The International Council on Hotel, Restaurant, and Institutional Education
2810 N. Parham Rd., Ste. 230
Richmond, VA 23294
(804) 346-4800
http://www.chrie.org/

Earnings and Benefits

Wages depend mostly on the workers' skill and on the type and location of the food service business for which they work. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median hourly earnings of chefs and head cooks was $14.75 in 2004, but many top chefs earned more than twice that amount. Celebrity cooks earn millions of dollars each year. Benefits for full-time employees generally include health insurance and paid vacations and holidays. As a rule cooks receive free meals while they are at work.

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about 9 years ago

Wow ^^ This is a great information for me for my school project. I thank you very much for this info :)

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over 9 years ago

THANKZ FOR ALL YOUR HELP ON MY RESEARCH PAPER

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over 6 years ago

Actually there right im a chef at night and baker in the morning I cook everything to order and it gets to be a lot when u have 19 entrees in at the same time trying prioritize ant keep customers coming back for more presentation is the most important part because people eat with there eyes first

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about 7 years ago

I am a cook, been one for 2 years, the most im able to make is $8.50/hr. This is the most laid back job i've ever had.

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almost 9 years ago

this was very helpful i want to be a chef now

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over 7 years ago

I’ve been working in the industry for some time now so I know it quite well and I found the info on this site pretty accurate. I don't think you glamorized it but instead gave a good general overview.

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almost 9 years ago

this page is super cool Im going to be a chef when I grow up

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over 8 years ago

This is SO AWSOME!!!!!!!!!

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over 8 years ago

i like the way you gave me information about being a chef

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over 8 years ago

you spelled "Awesome" wrong....

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almost 5 years ago


Dear Sir
I am Alok Bosu looking for the bakery chef job Currently I have been work in Indismart group Kolkata. As a Bakery chef ,Tacking care of Bakery & Confectionery section , doing Butter Sculpture & vegetable carving. If you have any chance for me please let me know I fully hope that you will kindly consider my petition and give me a golden chance to work under your kind management. I assure you at the same time that I shall do my level best and prove the correctness of your choice. my email Id is (alokbosu@gmail.com)& my Mobil no is-(+9831786501 )

Thanking you with my warm regard

Alok Bosu


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almost 5 years ago


Dear Sir
I am Alok Bosu looking for the bakery chef job Currently I have been work in Indismart group Kolkata. As a Bakery chef ,Tacking care of Bakery & Confectionery section , doing Butter Sculpture & vegetable carving. If you have any chance for me please let me know I fully hope that you will kindly consider my petition and give me a golden chance to work under your kind management. I assure you at the same time that I shall do my level best and prove the correctness of your choice. my email Id is (alokbosu@gmail.com)& my Mobil no is-(+9831786501 )

Thanking you with my warm regard

Alok Bosu


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almost 5 years ago

good work this is goood info but you must advance somemore

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almost 6 years ago

LOOKING AND READING THIS INFORMATION WAS PRETTY GOOD STUFF HERE AND BECOMING A CHEIF WAS ALWAYS A DREAM THAT I HAD WHEN I WAS A KID, SO NOW IS TIME TO PUSH MY LIMITS AND PUT MY SKILLS TO WORK! THANK YOU AND READING THE COMMENTS PEOPLE IF YOU WANT TO BECOME A COOK DO IT! THANK YOU!

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over 9 years ago

Thank you this is what i want to be when i grow older so i had to do a research paper for high school this was very helpful for me

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over 9 years ago

This is great, im writing a highschool research paper for the culinary career field, this site has a ton of

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over 9 years ago

this page was very helpful im writing a school essay about the culinary arts field and this page gave me some very useful info

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over 10 years ago

this a nice page to reead i like it

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over 6 years ago

im body otodidack....im basicly japanese food and indonesia food...

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over 6 years ago

this sucks balls

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over 6 years ago

lala whatevs

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over 8 years ago

you have a large part of your information wrong..... i was a chef for 7 years at some of Canada's top restaurants and i never worked in an air condition kitchen or worked less than 50 hours a week. Our wage up here is a lot a lot less than you quote, starting at 11/hr. And please don't encourage people to be celebrity chefs as a career option. If you work hard and are dedicated it may still not happen for you, a lot has to do with timing and connections to the right people. I wish all of you who want to be chef the best of luck but the fact of the matter is that half of you will quit the industry after 5 years and half of the rest after before 10. I'm sorry but it's a tough job and too many people glamorize it.

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over 5 years ago

idk

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over 5 years ago

do you need to be good at science to be a head cok????

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over 6 years ago

you smell lke milk boo boo

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over 5 years ago

I would love to be a chef but i am really bad at science do you really need to be good at it?????

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over 5 years ago

amar zami zillik millik

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over 5 years ago

this is zillikmillik.

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over 5 years ago

its good to work for the hospitallity to gain more

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over 5 years ago

This is some cool stuff I want to be a chef and this is helping me out plus I found out some info for a collage project

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over 5 years ago

yjn0ik9seitksetirkg,kpfmv h

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almost 6 years ago

bein a chef is awsome its dealing with fucked up staff thats the problem hahaha

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almost 6 years ago

How many years dose it take to be a chef

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almost 6 years ago

This is great info that Im able to use on my school project but also information that I can use and I know what I need to prepare for in order to be a chef.

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almost 6 years ago

:)

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almost 6 years ago

I am a full time cook, my duties are to cook ,clean, do all dishes (most of the time),prep, and lift heavy things down two flights of stairs, is this right???

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about 6 years ago

i want to be a chef when im older so this is very good info also u such chicken kiev balls

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about 6 years ago

I am ratatouille moooooooofooo!

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about 6 years ago

Idiot what is this

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over 6 years ago

how much does a headchef get paid

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about 9 years ago

this is very helpful

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about 9 years ago

Tanks! This really helped with my research for my presentation. I had to do a tri-fold on all the aspecs of being a chef. Thanks a lot!

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about 9 years ago

thanks for the report info.

much needed.



LOVE YOU



Damein Mcgregor

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about 9 years ago

this was the best thanks

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about 9 years ago

this is awsom man

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about 9 years ago

This was just the site I needed for my paper and it helped me decide on a career. I'm glad I found it!!

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over 9 years ago

Thanx for helping me write this report. HAHAHAHAHA.

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over 9 years ago

This is a good page to read and very informational.

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about 7 years ago

please don't give bad comments about being a chef because here is a girl who really wants to become a chef. if i become a chef i will probably be successful one day or at least i hope so. however this comments are not inspiring to me so instead of say bad things, why don't you try to be more positive about this career? i will appreciate that..thanks

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over 7 years ago

Ya there is no such thing as a air conditioned kitchen, in the summer its hot and sticky and the only place you can go to cool off is the fridge or freezer.

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almost 9 years ago

yo this thing dont give a lot of info yall need some more info?..

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over 9 years ago

nice thanks

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over 2 years ago

HI!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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over 4 years ago

what is the average vacation time for an executive chef???

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about 5 years ago

would i jod as a chef be a good jod. some people told me that it dont pay that much

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8 months ago

hey guys

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over 1 year ago

THANK YOU! now I have alot of help for my reasearch project. I want to be a chef when I get older!