Line cooks are responsible for ensuring that the food is prepared to perfect standards.
They have to follow the rules and specifications of the chef, establishment, customer, and health inspectors.
The job of a line cook can be stressful and high-pressurized.
Depending on the position, line cooks have a wide range of tasks and responsibilities.
For instance, a lead line cook has different tasks from a prep line cook.
Depending on the functions they perform, the salary can also vary.
Despite the stress that comes with this job, it opens a wide range of job opportunities.
Article Table of Contents
What Does a Line Cook Do
Line cooks handle daily chores related to the preparation of food.
Their tasks include preparing the food stations, stocking the pantry, organizing the kitchen, etc.
There are more responsibilities that line cooks are tasked with.
To be good at this job, you need to be extremely stress-tolerant.
You should also be proficient at cooking and handling a variety of kitchen utensils.
You should follow the predetermined recipes and be able to take responsibility for your mistakes.
The most common environment for line cooks is an industrial-style kitchen.
They have a supervisor who assigns them to a cooking station.
It’s important to remember that even if one cooking station fails, it can lead to the collapse of the entire kitchen.
Like with the majority of jobs in customer service, the customer is always right.
As stated, the job and responsibilities of a line cook can differ from one place to another.
Besides the duties, it also refers to the paycheck.
So, we have put together a list of responsibilities line cooks are tasked with the most frequently.
Interestingly, these duties can also be common for people with different jobs in the kitchen who moved up from the line cook position.
There are numerous opportunities for promotion, so many workers choose to master their expertise before attempting to move up.
The most common duties of line cooks include:
- Following recipes.
- Following the standards of quality of the specific kitchen and the state.
- Preparing different food items.
- Knowing various cooking methods.
- Restocking kitchens and pantries.
- Managing the designated food stations.
- Ensuring the quality of food.
- Inspecting the food that comes from the kitchen.
- Requesting the supplies and food items necessary on the line.
- Understanding and adhering to the company’s policies and processes.
- Being familiar with cooking methods as well as kitchen rule, quality, and portion size standards.
- Ensuring the right amount of food stocked at the line stations.
- Dividing food items by portions before cooking.
- Keeping work stations clean and sanitary at all times.
- Following sanitation and safety protocols.
- Appropriately setting up the garnishes.
- Setting up the plates according to the aesthetic protocols of the establishment.
- Keeping food servers informed of ticket times.
- Addressing the guests’ requests and orders friendly and efficiently.
- Following company, local, state, and federal guidelines.
- Assisting with food preparations during a less busy time.
- Ensuring the proper closing of the kitchen.
- Taking an active part in employee meetings.
- Carrying out other duties assigned by managers.
- Communicating with employees in different areas of the kitchen.
- Putting away dirty utensils to the correct areas.
Similar to other positions in customer service, you need certain skills and qualities.
Without these skills, it might be difficult to perform the job successfully.
Line cooks need the following skills and qualities:
- Superior and highly efficient cooking skills.
- The ability to handle great amounts of stress.
- Keeping composure at all times, within reasonable limits.
- Having superior customer service skills.
- High amounts of professionalism.
- Great analytical skills.
- Moving very quickly and precisely.
- Being highly skilled at wielding knives and other kitchen utensils.
- Possessing a strong moral compass and ethics.
- Strong sanitary knowledge and abilities.
- Superior communication and interpersonal skills.
- A willingness to suffer the occasional burn and cut.
- Being somewhat knowledgeable in IT.
Training and Qualifications
Typically, the employers’ requirements for line cooks and chefs are pretty strict.
One of the requirements as of recent is a college degree of two to four years.
Upon completion of them, you receive a professional diploma in food management services.
A high school diploma or GED is a must.
Line cooks don’t usually receive training. Since employers require a few years of experience, they assume that their line cooks are trained.
The only on-the-job training they may get is older employees showing the new ones their way around the kitchen.
Line cooks are expected to have more than four years of experience in kitchen administration or other relevant cooking experience.
This is aimed at two things.
First, to eliminate any possible mistakes, and to ensure that only skilled employees apply for the job.
With more experience, you also have higher chances of promotion.
There are various opportunities for people with enough experience as a line cool.
You can eventually advance to the following positions:
- Part-time line cook.
- Line cook.
- Leadline cook.
- Prep Cook.
- Line supervisor.
- Line prep coordinator.
- Sous chef.
- Executive chef.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment rate for line cooks is supposed to grow by 4%.
This is slower than the average for all occupations, which is 8%.
There are various reasons for this, directly and indirectly, related to the job.
Even though the growth is slow, there are still available openings.
The competition for them is quite high though.
Many go for the position without realizing that they can’t handle the duties.
So the quitting rate is quite high.
Then, there comes a pretty severe competition over the position by many aspiring line cooks.
The position of a line cook is one of the most sought-after and is a stepping stone.
There is severe competition because this position brings multiple chances for advancement.
However, the turnover rate is one of the highest due to high levels of stress and low salaries.
Job Description Sample Template
If you need to create a job description to hire a line cook, we have written a sample template for you to orient to.
You can use it on an online job board.
Just customize it to fit your company description.
Line Cook Job Description
We are looking for a professional, experienced line cook to prepare food following the chef’s specification.
You will be required to set up stations according to the menu.
Your duties as a line cook will include assisting the head chef with their everyday tasks.
As the line cook, you will play a significant role in contributing to our overall success and customer satisfaction.
- Cooking menu items along with the rest of the restaurant staff.
- Preparing food (chopping, butchering, preparing, etc.).
- Cleaning up stations, taking care of leftovers.
- Setting up and stocking stations with correct supplies.
- Stocking inventory.
- Reporting to executive chef and sous chef.
- Ensuring food is high-quality and comes out in a timely fashion.
- Complying with food and safety regulations.
- Maintaining a professional and positive manner with coworkers and customers.
- 2+ years of cooking experience; including experience as a line chef, restaurant cook or prep cook.
- Understanding of various cooking methods and tools.
- Culinary school degree, or equivalent.
- Accurate and time-efficient.
- Familiar with industry practices.
Although the work of a line cook can be stressful, it can be a great opportunity for advancement in the culinary industry.
The profession of a line cook can be a stepping stone to a head chef position, or even opening your own restaurant.
As a line cook, you’ll get a very extended experience.
Just be sure that you can handle the responsibilities and pressure.