Individuals with the line cook job description are obligated to ensure that the food is prepared to perfect standards. The line cook has to respect the rules and specifications of the chef, the customer, the establishment, and the health inspectors. High-pressure, stressful situations are often a considerable part of the job.
Depending on the exact position, individuals in the profession can handle a wide array of duties and tasks. For example, the lead line cook job will be somewhat different than the prep line cook. The salaries are also varying depending on the specific function. Although stressful, the line cook position offers a high amount of job opportunities.
Line Cook Job Description Overview
The line cook job description includes taking care of daily chores related to preparing the food. This includes, but is not limited to, stocking the pantry, preparing the food stations, and organizing the kitchen. Of course, those are only a few of the responsibilities encountered by the profession.
To be good as a line cook, one must be able to handle high amounts of stress. One also has to be very proficient at cooking, as well as at handling various kitchen utensils. Being able to take responsibility for one’s mistakes is also a must, as is following predetermined recipes.
Most line cooks work in industrial-style kitchens. They have a direct superior, responsible for assigning them to a cooking station. The line cook job description comes with the addendum that the failure of even a single station can lead to the collapse of the entire kitchen. Of course, as with most jobs in customer service, the customer is always right.
Line Cook Job Description Responsibilities
As mentioned before, the job description for a line cook can be different from one workplace to another. This includes various tasks and responsibilities, as well as different paychecks. So, we’ve compiled a list of the line cook job duties most frequently met on the job. Most of these are what people with the line cook job description run into daily.
What’s interesting is that a lot of these responsibilities are also met by individuals who have long moved on from the line cook profession. Since the position offers so many advancement possibilities, many choose to become experts before attempting to get a promotion.
The most frequently met duties encountered by line cooks are:
- Following given recipes;
- Following the quality standards of the kitchen and the state;
- Preparing various food items;
- Being familiar with multiple cooking methods;
- Stocking pantries and kitchens;
- Managing the assigned food stations;
- Ensuring the quality of the served food;
- Physically inspecting the food sent from the kitchen;
- Requesting the food items and supplies needed on the line;
- Understanding the company’s policies;
- Adhering to the policies and processes;
- Knowing the cooking methods, kitchen rules, quality standards, and standard portion sizes.
Additional Line Cook Responsibilities
- Making sure that enough food is stocked and kept at the line stations;
- Portioning food products before cooking;
- Ensuring that the workstations’ areas are kept clean and sanitary at all times;
- Following safety and sanitation protocols;
- Setting up the garnishes in an appropriate fashion;
- Setting up the plates in accordance with the establishment’s aesthetic protocols;
- Keeping food servers informed of ticket times;
- Attending to guests’ orders and requests with efficiency and friendliness;
- Following company, federal, state, and local guidelines;
- Helping out with food preparation during less busy hours;
- Ensuring that the kitchen is properly closed;
- Participating actively in employee meetings;
- Carrying out other manager-assigned duties;
- Communicating with different areas of the kitchen;
- Returning dirty utensils to the correct areas.
Line Cook Requirements
Just like with most positions which involve customer service, one has to have certain qualities and skills. If one lacks the skills or qualities to be good at the job, a different career might be in order. Still, many prefer to try perfecting on the job. And they quickly find out that that is a bad idea.
The qualities and skills most often needed to excel at the line cook job are the following:
- The ability to handle great amounts of stress;
- Keeping composure at all times, within reasonable limits;
- Superior and highly efficient cooking skills;
- Being highly skilled at wielding knives and other kitchen utensils;
- Having superior customer service skills;
- Possessing a strong moral compass and ethics;
- High amounts of professionalism;
- Superior communication and interpersonal skills;
- Great analytical skills;
- A willingness to suffer the occasional burn and cut;
- Strong sanitary knowledge and abilities;
- Moving very quickly and precisely;
- Being somewhat knowledgeable in IT.
Qualifications and Training
The majority of employers hiring for a line cook have some pretty strict requirements. One of the most recent trends is for chefs and line cooks to have a college degree of two to four years. These usually end in a professional diploma in food management services. A high school diploma or a GED equivalent is also mandatory.
As for the training that a line cook can obtain, the options aren’t that great. Since the position requires some years of experience, employers generally assume that new employees need no training. The only possible on-the-job training is for older employees to show new ones around the kitchen.
One of the most frequent requirements for the line cook job description includes more than four years of kitchen administration and cooking experience. This serves two purposes. The first is to eliminate as many potential mistakes as possible. Meanwhile, the second one is to make sure that only skilled employees apply.
Something else helped greatly by prolonged experience in the field are one’s chances of getting promoted. There are plenty of career options for someone with enough experience in the line cook profession. In fact, the positions to which most line cooks advance are the following:
- Line cook;
- Part-time line cook;
- Prep cook;
- Line prep coordinator;
- Lead line cook;
- Line supervisor;
- Sous chef;
- Executive chef.
Line Cook Career Prospects
The Bureau of Labor Statistics calculated the estimated employment rate for the profession. They supposedly predicted it to go up by four percent by 2024. That is much slower than the 8% average for all occupations. This is owed to several factors, both directly and indirectly related to the job.
However, despite the gradual increase, one can still find open spots for the position. That is, as long as they don’t mind having to compete. Many get hired as a line cook without realizing that they can’t handle the responsibilities. So, they quickly quit. The positions are then fought over by many aspiring line cooks.
One of the most sought-after jobs in hospitality, the line cook position is a stepping stone. Many aspiring chefs fight over the position, as it offers better chances of moving up in the kitchen. However, the low salary and high-stress levels contribute to this job having one of the highest turnover rates.
Line Cook Job Description Sample Template
If you’re looking to put together a job description to hire a line cook, here is a sample template for you to go off of. This is perfect to post on an online job board. Just be sure to customize it to your company and you’re good to go!
Line Cook Job Description
We are seeking to hire a professional, experienced line cook to prepare food to the chef’s specifications. You will also be required to set up stations in accordance with the menu. Your duties as a line cook will consist of assisting the head chefs with their daily tasks. As the line cook, you will also play a key role in contributing to our customer satisfaction and overall success.
Line Cook Responsibilities
- Preparing food (chopping, butchering, preparing, etc.)
- Cooking menu items along with the rest of the restaurant staff
- Setting up and stocking stations with correct supplies
- Clean up stations, take care of leftovers
- Report to executive chef and sous chef
- Ensure food is high-quality and comes out in a timely fashion
- Stock inventory
- Maintain a professional and positive manner with coworkers and customers
- Comply with food and safety regulations
Line Cook Requirements
- 2+ years of cooking experience; including experience as a line chef, restaurant cook or prep cook
- Accurate and time-efficient
- Understanding of various cooking methods and tools
- Familiar with industry practices
- Culinary school degree, or equivalent
Our Final Thoughts on Becoming a Line Cook
Although the line cook position can be very stressful, it is well worth it if you’re looking to eventually move up in the cooking world. Becoming a line cook is the perfect stepping stone to becoming a head chef one day, and even owning your own restaurant! You’ll get a ton of experience as a line cook. Just be sure that you’re ready to handle the pressure and responsibilities.
Are you a line cook, or looking to become one? Tell us your favorite part of the cooking industry in a comment below!