What Do Cooks, Institution and Cafeteria Do?
Most people tend to associate being a cook with working in a restaurant, but there are a number of other establishments that rely on this important position. Schools and hospitals also need cooks, and if you work in one of these places, then you will be in charge of preparing and cooking sizeable amounts of food. You are going to get a large influx of individuals coming into the cafeteria in a short period of time, so you need to be able to cook meals quickly and efficiently. Fortunately, there is projected to be sizable growth in this industry within the next decade. There is expected to be 13,460 jobs opening up annually in this field, which translates to 13% growth each year.
Cooks, Institution and Cafeteria Skills and Abilities
You should be knowledgeable of various food production techniques and know how to safely handle and prepare meals for consumption. Depending on where exactly you are employed, you may need to interact with the general public occasionally, and that requires having a certain level of customer service prowess. Time management is crucial because you will likely need to oversee the preparation of various meals simultaneously, and you need to ensure that each one gets completed correctly on time. Speaking skills are also crucial because you will need to communicate effectively with other employees in the kitchen. Manual dexterity and arm-hand steadiness are very important to do your job to the best of your ability.
Cooks, Institution and Cafeteria Duties
Your primary responsibility will be to clean, cook and cut various meats and poultry. You will also need to clean all the equipment you use so that it adheres to local cleanliness standards. You may have other cooks or workers in the kitchen with you, so you may need to coordinate activities, allowing everyone to have something to do. You may also be in charge of planning menus and preparing special items according to what time of the year it is. Additional tasks can include:
- Training other personnel on proper food preparation.
- Inspecting facilities regularly to ensure cleanliness.
- Ordering equipment and supplies.
- Recording operational data.
- Serving beverages and food.
Cooks, Institution and Cafeteria Tools and Technology
Naturally, you will need to familiarize yourself with the various pieces of equipment often used in institutional kitchens such as broilers, convection ovens and deep fryers. You should also know how to safely handle cutlery. Part of your job description may also include inputting data into a computer system, so you will need to understand how to operate your organization’s data base user interface software. A familiarity with word processing and spreadsheet software can also prove to be useful.
Education and Training Cooks, Institution and Cafeteria
Most people enter this field with less than a high school education, and it is expected that you will complete on-the-site training to become familiar with how the company operates. There are various instructional programs you can partake in to become a more efficient chef, and these include a culinary arts program or a food service administration program.
Cooks, Institution and Cafeteria Salary
The salary range for this position can vary quite a bit depending on the state you live in and your experience level. The low end of the pay scale tends to be around $17,100/annually while the high end is closer to $36,100/annually. The median wage is often around $23,400 a year.
Cooks, Institution and Cafeteria Jobs by Geography
Elementary schools, special food services and nursing care facilities are the industries that hire the most cooks for an institution or cafeteria. States that have the highest level of employment for this occupation include Texas, California and Georgia. However, if you are interested in earning more money for the same job, then you should know that Alaska, Rhode Island and Connecticut have the greatest annual mean wage.