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What is a line cook?

Learn all about what a line cook does, how much they're paid, and much more!

What is a line cook

What is a line cook?

A line cook preps and produces food at a specific station in restaurant kitchens with speed and precision. Some line cooks are cross-trained on many stations while others are experts on a grill, fryer, salad station, or dessert line.

Line cooks have to be able to work well as part of a team and keep calm under pressure. They have knowledge of flavors, textures, and cooking methods and are able to consistently produce high-quality dishes.

What are a line cook’s duties and responsibilities?

A line cook’s duties and responsibilities include:

  • Preparing their work station with equipment and supplies

  • Prepping ingredients for service

  • Cooking menu items using various cooking methods

  • Using cooking equipment, such as ovens, fryers, and broilers

  • Cooperating and communicating with the rest of the kitchen staff

  • Reporting to the executive chef or sous chef

  • Keeping their station clean and organized

  • Cooking food to specifications as orders come in

  • Communicate with the expediter

  • Knowing and adhering to food safety standards

How much are line cooks paid?

Line cooks’ wages are between $27,000 and $36,000 annually on average. Their average hourly wage is $15.21. A line cook’s earning potential depends on the kind of restaurant or kitchen in which they work.

What are the qualities that make a good line cook?

Good line cooks have extensive knowledge of various cooking methods, flavors, and textures. They are adept in any kitchen setting, able to chop and butcher ingredients quickly and execute cooking procedures with accuracy. They must be consistent and able to multitask under pressure, remembering the perfect timing for each dish.

Line cooks have to be able to work well with a team since other cooks, chefs, and managers are responsible for other portions of the plate. The team of line cooks synchronizes preparation times to ensure that food makes it out of the kitchen warm and on time. They much also communicate with service staff and managers to accommodate guests’ needs and special requests.

How to become a line cook

Line cooks must have the right skills and experience before starting work in a kitchen. Some learn to cook in culinary schools, getting an education in a variety of cooking styles and methods. Many restaurants are willing to train line cooks, but some kitchen experience as a prep cook or assistant might be required.

Browsing job ads is a good way to determine which local restaurants, kitchens, or food service businesses are hiring. Owners and managers are impressed with candidates that take the initiative to visit the business in-person or call to introduce themselves and learn more about the opening.

How to hire a line cook

When you are looking to hire a line cook, start by making a detailed list of the qualifications and skills you would like candidates to possess. Be specific about the kitchen station you are hiring for and the hours they will need to be available. That way you be able to imagine the kind of person that you want to hire.

Interview applicants based on their experiences and skills, and pay attention to their interpersonal skills during the interview. Remember to verify the candidate’s education and qualifications before hiring. Staging is a common process for line cooks, where they work for a training period before being taking on the role full-time.

Posting job ads on online job boards is a good way to attract a wide range of candidates. You might also develop relationships with local culinary programs and ask about recent graduates that would excel in the position you have available.

Line cooks are the backbone of the kitchen staff. Being a line cook is fast-paced, challenging work, but they often find joy in preparing perfect meals for guests.

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