Lead Line Cook Job Description

A lead line cook is tasked with ensuring the kitchen runs smoothly, preparing food and sauces, and assisting head chefs with service. Candidates for this role need to be comfortable working in a fast-paced and often stressful work environment. They also need passion and enthusiasm for what they do. This is a full-time job and the hours are typically long, with weekend and evening work quite common. Work is usually performed in a well-lit industrial kitchen and in close quarters with colleagues. A role as a lead line cook would suit people who are passionate about cooking, enjoy a challenge, and like working as part of a team.


Lead Line Cook Duties and Responsibilities

Lead line cooks are responsible for preparing food for service and helping to make sure the kitchen stays clean, tidy, and operational. The lead line cook’s duties usually involve:

Preparing Food

One of the main tasks given to a lead line cook is helping with the preparation of food for cooking or serving. This may include washing and peeling fruits and vegetables, marinating meat, or preparing sauces. While some kitchens employ prep chefs for this, lead line cooks are often involved with this work.

Follow Orders from Supervisors

Lead line cooks are tasked with various duties as they come in, which are assigned by either the head chef or the supervisor. Line cooks are responsible for whatever station they’re assigned to, but may also be given other duties during busier periods.

Stock Work Stations

Ensuring that each station is stocked with the necessary equipment is generally tasked to the line cook. They also check that work stations are clean and meet sanitary regulations at all times.

Check Inventory Stocks

A lead line cook prepares ingredients and supplies each day, which includes checking inventories and the quality of the supplies received. They also ensure that dates and temperatures are checked, and that stock is rotated to be in line with use-by dates for optimum quality.

Comply with Regulations

Health and safety regulations are of paramount importance in a professional kitchen. It’s the lead line cook’s responsibility to ensure that these regulations and standards are met at all times, and that the kitchen remains hygienic.


Lead Line Cook Skills and Qualifications

Lead line cooks should be able to follow orders well and have excellent time management skills. Employers usually require experience from a culinary training program and experience in a food preparation setting, as well as:

  • Listening skills – in a professional kitchen, the ability to follow tasks to the exact requirements is essential, as is following orders from the supervisor each day
  • Time management – lead line cooks manage their time effectively and stick to strict deadlines to help the kitchen run smoothly
  • Dexterity – line cooks work with sharp objects at a quick pace. Dexterity is important in order to remain safe while still completing tasks to a high standard
  • Strength and stamina – lead line cooks work a physically demanding job. Long hours and standing for extended periods of time require high energy, and lifting heavy supply boxes and equipment requires strength
  • Teamwork – working well as part of a team is vital to this job, as lead line cooks collaborate with their colleagues at all times. It’s important to maintain a professional approach when working with other members of the team


Lead Line Cook Education and Training

Employers expect applicants for this role to have between two to four years of culinary training on their resumes, along with a high school diploma. Programs can be found at community colleges, vocational schools, and culinary institutes. Previous experience in this industry is beneficial and helps with career advancement. The rest of a lead line cook’s training is received through on-the-job experience. Trainees typically work under the supervision of a trained chef or more experienced worker on the team to learn food preparation techniques and health and safety regulations.


Lead Line Cook Salary and Outlook

The median annual salary for lead line cooks is just over $24,000. Lead line cooks in the 10th percentile earn around $14,000 annually. The highest earning potential is $41,000 a year.

Location and the level of experience affect the pay for this role. Health benefits are rarely offered, but some companies may provide them. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that the growth rate for food preparation workers is expected to grow 8 percent through 2026.


Lead Line Cook Helpful Resources

Working as part of a professional kitchen is an exciting career to embark on, and there’s a lot to learn. These resources will help you get started:

CHEF Forum – with over 107,000 members, this is the largest chef forum on LinkedIn. For anyone in the culinary industry, this is the place to find jobs and take part in culinary discussions

101 Things I Learned in Culinary School – this is an excellent overview of culinary techniques that provides 101 illustrated lessons on everything from food preparation to cooking and presenting a dish, as well as insights into working in the culinary profession

The Culinary Professional – a comprehensive guide to culinary techniques and equipment, The Culinary Professional is a must for anyone starting out in this sector

Chef’s ResourcesChef’s Resources is a useful website, covering a variety of culinary knowledge, but it’s the blog where you’ll find a host of different and insightful topics, from keeping knives sharp to the skills you need to become a chef


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