Cooks, Restaurant – What it is, responsibilities, and the path to becoming one

Cooks, Restaurant – What it is, responsibilities, and the path to becoming one

The food and beverage industry is always in search of talented and passionate cooks who can bring out the flavors of various cuisines from around the world. Restaurant cooks are professionals who create, prepare and cook food that is presentable, nutritious, and delicious. They are responsible for creating a culinary experience for customers, and may work alone or in collaboration with other cooks and chefs.

Restaurant cooks have a wide range of responsibilities. They prepare tables, wash, cut and cook ingredients, create recipes, and plate dishes with an eye for presentation. They must be knowledgeable about food safety standards and ensure that all food is properly cooked and stored to prevent contamination. Additionally, they must adhere to recipe guidelines, estimate food costs, and ensure that orders are completed on time.

Examples of a Restaurant Cook

There are various roles that a restaurant cook can have, depending on the size and type of restaurant. Here are a few examples:

  • Line Cook: Line cooks usually work in fast-paced kitchens or restaurants and are responsible for preparing specific items of the menu, such as appetizers or entrees. They are often required to multitask and work well under pressure.
  • Prep Cook: Prep cooks assist with the preparation of ingredients such as chopping vegetables, meats, or fruits, and completing simple tasks to help keep the kitchen running smoothly. They can also be responsible for cleaning and organizing the kitchen.
  • Pastry Chef: Pastry chefs focus on creating desserts and bread in the restaurant.

Education, Training, and Promotions

No special degrees or licenses are required to become a restaurant cook. However, many individuals seeking this position may acquire culinary education such as a certificate, a diploma, or an associate’s degree. This can be done through vocational schools, community colleges, or cooking institutes.

Entry-level restaurant cooks are often trained on the job by head chefs or other experienced cooks. Once they have enough experience and knowledge, they can progress up through the ranks. Advancement opportunities may vary based on the restaurant, but a cook can become a sous chef, chef de cuisine, or executive chef with hard work, experience, and skill. A willingness to take on new responsibilities and a strong work ethic can also help individuals to move up in their career.

Getting into the Field

One way to get into the food and beverage industry is to start out at the bottom by washing dishes, prepping food, and assisting cooks in the kitchen. Hard work, determination, and a passion for cooking can lead to better positions. Volunteering or interning at local restaurants or beginner-level cooking competitions is also a great way to gain valuable experience and network with industry professionals.

Salary and Unionization

Cooks in the restaurant industry have varying job levels and salaries, depending on their experience, whether they are unionized or not, and whether they work full-time or part-time. The US national average for all workers is $25,750.40 for Level 02 and $37,356.80 for non-leveled positions. For experienced cooks, the average salary is $36,150.40.

Unionized restaurant cooks earn significantly higher salaries, with an average of $49,108.80 for all levels compared to $33,446.40 for non-union workers. Full-time cooks typically earn more than part-time workers, with an average salary of $34,548.80 compared to $32,822.40 for part-time workers. Kahului-Wailuku-Lahaina, HI is the best-paid location for restaurant cooks, with a full-time all-levels average salary of $51,729.60, while the Southeast Oklahoma nonmetropolitan area is the least paid with a part-time all-levels average salary of $25,105.60.

Overall, unionization has a significant impact on the salaries of restaurant cooks, with unionized workers earning substantially more than their non-unionized counterparts. The data also show that full-time work generally yields higher salaries than part-time work. Employers in high-paying regions may need to offer corresponding salaries to retain skilled cooks.


In conclusion, restaurant cooks play a crucial role in the food and beverage industry. Education and training, combined with work experience and passion, can go a long way towards achieving a successful career in this field. The industry is growing at a steady rate, and aspiring cooks can expect many opportunities for growth and advancement along their journey.

Unionization and full-time work are factors that can significantly impact a restaurant cook’s salary. Cooks should also consider seeking training and education, starting from the bottom and working their way up the ranks, and networking with industry professionals. Employers should offer competitive salaries to retain skilled cooks and keep them motivated to produce delicious, presentable, and nutritious meals for customers.