Cook Assistant Job Description
A cook assistant provides support to head chefs. This role works under the direct supervision of an executive chef or a sous chef. Cook assistants perform a variety of cooking duties, including preparing food, testing new recipes, cleaning the kitchen, plating dishes, and maintaining supplies. Individuals in this role should have excellent communication skills and a focus on prompt, efficient, and courteous service. Cook assistants thrive in high-pressure environments and enjoy being busy. Hours will vary based on the employer, and on-the-job training is typically offered.
Cook Assistant Duties and Responsibilities
While the day-to-day duties of cook assistants are determined by their employer, there are many core tasks associated with the role. Based on our analysis of job listings, these include:
Cook assistants ensure the kitchen, including all appliances and utensils, is clean. They clean and sanitize work areas and equipment according to establishment protocol, deep-cleaning equipment and work areas as needed. During food service, the cook assistant is responsible for keeping the station fully stocked and in working order. They also maintain food production records, notify supervisors when supplies are low, unpack deliveries, and restock work areas.
Cook assistants are responsible for preparing ingredients prior to meal service, such as chopping vegetables, butchering meat, or cleaning seafood. They also assist the head chef in cooking dishes according to set recipes.
Store and Dispose of Food
A cook assistant is usually responsible for the storage of food, both incoming stock and leftovers. They often unload delivery trucks and ensure that food is stored in the appropriate conditions. After food service, the cook assistant is responsible for determining if leftovers of either prepared or partially prepared food can be reused or if they must be disposed of.
Cook Assistant Skills and Qualifications
Cook assistants should have a passion for food and strong attention to detail. The ideal candidate for this role works well with different personality types, enjoys helping others, and upholds a strong sense of cleanliness and organization. Employers prefer candidates who possess the following abilities:
- Communication skills - cook assistants interact with many people, including the executive chef, establishment wait staff, food vendors, and delivery people. It is important to be a strong, detailed communicator in order for meal service to run smoothly
- Attention to detail - most cook assistants work in high-volume, fast-paced environments. It is important perform well under pressure and multitask while paying close attention to details
- Flexibility - cook assistants may perform different tasks depending on the day. If the restaurant is very busy, for example, they may take charge with cooking to help the executive chef accommodate all orders or work long hours
Cook Assistant Education and Training
While no formal education is required for cook assistants, training at a community college or culinary school is preferred. Previous work experience as a cook assistant is strongly desired by most employers. Preferred credentials vary by establishment, but cook assistants may be required to pass background checks or be certified in CPR and first aid. Employers typically offer on-the-job training, and some provide written manuals on company protocols and procedures.
Cook Assistant Salary and Outlook
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) lists the median annual wage for cook assistants at $20.77 per hour, or $43,180 per year. This can vary based on industry and location.
According to the BLS, employment prospects for chefs and head cooks is projected to grow 10 percent through 2026, faster than the average for all occupations.
There are many helpful resources available for those interested in careers as cook assistants. Please review the links below for valuable information and the latest industry news:
Culinary Careers: How to Get Your Dream Job in Food with Advice from Top Culinary Professionals – working in food service can mean cooking on the line in a restaurant, but there are so many more career paths available. Tapping into that vast alumni network and beyond, Culinary Careers is the only career book that offers candid portraits of dozens of coveted jobs at all levels to help you find your dream job
Guide to Culinary Career Paths – this website helps you discover your niche in the culinary services industry with information on programs offered around the country and discussions of different career paths
World Association of Chefs Societies – Worldchefs is a dynamic global network of more than 100 chefs associations representing chefs at all levels and across all specialties. You can find information on different chef clubs, certifications, and challenges, and network with other chefs worldwide
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