What Do Cooks, All Other Do?
Numerous industries rely on cooks to prepare delicious, healthy food for customers. The extent of your responsibilities will vary based on the location you work. For example, fast food cooks will stick to preparing food from a limited menu while cooks at more upscale restaurants may assist with crafting the menu and coming up with new dishes. The need for cooks is only going to increase as time goes on. On average, the United States is projected to need 830 new cooks every year for the next decade. That translates to a 13% increase each year. Additional research should be performed to determine whether the state you work in is going to have a greater need for cooks than others.
Cooks, All Other Skills and Abilities
The primary skill you are going to need as a cook is the ability to safely prepare various dishes. You should know how to properly prepare a variety of meals so that customers enjoy their food while not getting sick. You will have to work with servers, other employees and occasionally customers, so top-of-the-line customer service skills are crucial. You will likely be working with other cooks in the kitchen, so you need to be able to manage and coordinate everyone’s responsibilities. Communication skills are also very important because you may need to convey a certain dish to someone clearly so that the right meal gets prepared.
Cooks, All Other Duties
Naturally, you will be the person responsible for preparing food, but that also means checking the food to ensure it is still safe to use. You also need to maintain an inventory of everything you have and place orders for when new materials are needed. Your employer may also call on you to come up with new, unique dishes and set prices for those meals. Your precise set of responsibilities will vary from one restaurant to the next, but some of the tasks you should be prepared to perform include:
- Training other personnel.
- Planning special events.
- Resolving any customer disputes.
- Inspecting facilities to ensure compliance with state standards.
- Scheduling routine maintenance to equipment.
Cooks, All Other Tools and Technology
As a cook, you should be familiar with the various pieces of equipment needed to prepare food. That includes:
- Food thermometers
- Food slicers
- Ranges (ovens, stoves)
However, you may not be spending all your time in the kitchen, and you may be expected to perform certain tasks on a computer. You may be responsible for recording production data, and that requires a familiarity with spreadsheet and desktop publishing software. You should also know how to use email to communicate with employees and customers outside of the establishment.
Education and Training for Cooks, All Other
Different eating establishment will have different requirements for their cooks, but generally speaking, most cooks do not need anything further than a high school education. If you have a college degree in culinary arts, then that would obviously be a plus. However, most people can get by if they simply take a cooking, culinary arts or food preparation instructional program.
Cooks, All Other Salary
The salary range for cooks can vary quite a bit depending on where exactly you are employed, but the median salary for most cooks tends to be around $25,000 a year. The higher end of that scale tends to be closer to $38,000, and you could potentially earn a lot more.
Cooks, All Other Jobs by Geography
Special food services, grocery stores and boarding houses have the greatest demand for cooks outside of traditional restaurants. The highest concentration of cooks by population can be seen in the following states: Alaska, Louisiana and Mississippi. If you are looking for the states that pay the most on average to cooks, then those would be Connecticut, Alaska and the District of Columbia.