There are generally no college prerequisites for a career as a line cook, which makes it an excellent choice for newcomers to the culinary industry who want to get their feet wet. Many line cooks have completed a minimal amount of culinary school, and it is also a very common job for students currently studying in the field. Since it is an entry-level position, it’s an ideal opportunity to gain experience that, along with education, makes a very attractive package for employers in the restaurant and hospitality industry. If you want to learn more about how to enter this field, the following information should be of help.
What is a Line Cook?
The majority of the food in a large restaurant’s kitchen is initially prepared by line cooks, and finally seasoned, assembled and plated by chefs and sous chefs. The line cooks don’t have any creative control over the kitchen, since that’s the executive chef’s job, and they don’t perform the high-end duties of a sous chef, such as seasoning and plating. What they do is the real work – chopping, cutting, dicing, marinating, slicing, stirring, whipping and other essential tasks. Typically, the line cooks all have their own stations in the production line, and are responsible for one specific task, such as chopping vegetables or grilling meat. The line cooks may also be responsible for cleaning and other duties.
Culinary School Requirements
As mentioned earlier, there are no formal educational requirements to enter this profession. Some high-end employers want their prep staff in the kitchen to have completed some cooking school, however. This tells employers that the cook understands the fundamentals of commercial food preparation and is educated in the latest health and safety standards. Programs at community colleges, culinary institutes and other vocational schools provide adequate training for anyone who wants to qualify for an entry-level position at an upscale, fine-dining establishment. There are even some short certificate programs specifically for line cooks that teach basic baking, cooking and food preparation skills.
Cooking on the line is a great job for current culinary students, as well. While internships are often part of the culinary school requirements, they don’t often pay. Being a line cook in a restaurant or other commercial kitchen offers an excellent opportunity for students to get paid for their work. After completing a full culinary degree program, someone who has already been working as a cook at a restaurant will be much better prepared to secure a job as a chef.
More and more employers are looking for line cooks with experience, so more and more aspiring cooks are starting out with jobs as food preparers and working their way up. It’s also necessary to have a food handler’s permit before moving up to this position from other jobs in a restaurant. The culinary industry is a highly competitive field, so any opportunity to get a foot in the door is highly coveted.