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Breakfast Cook Duties and Responsibilities
A breakfast cook's role can vary depending on their venue and customers, but many of the core duties are the same regardless of location:
Prepare Breakfast Foods The primary duty of a breakfast cook is preparing breakfast foods for customers. They may cook individual orders at a restaurant or prepare bulk items like scrambled eggs, meats, or pastries for buffets or breakfast meetings. This requires familiarity with cooking a variety of items to order, as well as managing food presentation and customization. A breakfast cook should be able to prepare both savory and sweet breakfast items based on customer needs.
Develop Menus The breakfast cook frequently assists with developing a restaurant or venue's breakfast menu. They work closely with restaurant managers and owners to determine menu items and decide how to best provide these items to customers. For example, a hotel or resort breakfast cook might determine which items to present buffet-style and which items will be cooked to order during breakfast service.
Direct Kitchen Staff A breakfast cook typically works with a team of kitchen professionals, ranging from pastry chefs to sous chefs, to deliver excellent food and provide customer service. Successful breakfast cooks effectively communicate with team members to manage all the elements that go into breakfast preparation and service and quickly resolve issues that can cause delays or suboptimal customer service.
Select and Purchase Ingredients Frequently, breakfast cooks purchase ingredients based on the menu. They may visit restaurant supply stores or individual providers to source eggs, meat, and other ingredients. Typically, a breakfast cook has a budget and identifies opportunities to save on ingredient costs to support profitability goals. The breakfast cook also balances this budget with the need to purchase high-quality ingredients and makes decisions about food storage and safe handling procedures to extend ingredients' shelf lives.
Maintain Kitchen Safety Finally, the breakfast cook ensures safety and efficiency by maintaining the kitchen's environment and equipment. They may assess equipment performance to determine whether repairs are needed and clean up kitchen areas throughout their shift to maintain a clean and productive environment. This also involves monitoring employee behavior and procedures to ensure that all members of the kitchen staff are adhering to safety and cleanliness standards.
Breakfast Cook Skills and QualificationsBreakfast cooks start their days early in the morning and work to prepare and serve food to a wide range of customers. Restaurants and venues typically hire cooks with several years of related experience, along with the following skills:
- Meal preparation - breakfast cooks should excel at food and meal preparation and must be able to cook a variety of breakfast dishes either to order or in bulk quantities
- Food presentation - this role also requires food presentation skills, since a breakfast cook needs to plate meals in an attractive, appetizing manner. They may also need to figure out how to best present buffet items in some settings
- Menu development - developing menus and breakfast item options that appeal to a variety of palates is essential for a breakfast cook, particularly if they work in a resort or hotel
- Team coordination - breakfast cooks work with both kitchen staff and servers, so they need to effectively communicate with team members and coordinate kitchen activities to provide excellent customer service
- Problem-solving skills - skilled breakfast cooks must respond quickly to changing kitchen circumstances or customer requests, so problem-solving skills are vital
- Familiarity with food safety standards - breakfast cooks should also be well-versed in food safety procedures and best practices for handling and storing ingredients
Breakfast Cook Education and TrainingTypically, breakfast cooks have at least a high school diploma or GED, but it is possible to start in this career without a degree. Prior kitchen experience is essential. Many breakfast cooks start as prep cooks and move on to more central roles from there. Many breakfast cooks complete culinary school to learn essential techniques and advance more quickly in their careers.
Breakfast Cook Salary and OutlookThe Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports the median hourly pay for cooks as $10.99, but wages can depend on a number of factors. The lowest-paid 10 percent of cooks earn $8.47 per hour, while the highest paid earn over $16.29 hourly. The BLS expects employment for cooks to grow 6 percent by 2026, with more demand for experienced restaurant cooks who can successfully prepare healthy, high-quality meals.
The following resources can help you jumpstart your career as a breakfast cook:
Culinary Institute of America - the Culinary Institute of America provides cooks and chefs with training and resources to advance their careers
So You Want to Be a Chef? Your Guide to Culinary Careers - this book provides a helpful overview of careers in the food service and culinary industries
"A Day in the Life of Clio Breakfast Cook Felipe Medina" - read about a breakfast chef's typical shift at a high-end hotel
How to Become a Chef: The Essential Guide for Becoming a Chef and Building a Successful Culinary Career - author Brandon Fiore covers how to begin and sustain a successful career as a cook or chef
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