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Many of the duties of the banquet cook are similar to line cooks in a restaurant except when it comes down to actual service. While in-house restaurant cooks make food to order often in rapid succession, banquet cooks primarily serve food already made, although they will occasionally create food to order. Banquet cooks often work directly with the public, which requires stamina, creativity and a pleasant demeanor.
Banquet cooks use a repertoire of cooking methods, including poaching, braising, charbroiling, saute, and par-cooking. Some banquet cooks are required to cook short-order dishes, particularly in the case of breakfast items such as omelets or waffles. These cooks must also be well versed in displaying certain foods such as elegant presentations of meats and vegetables or fruit platters.
Successful banquet cooks recognize and follow quality standards in regard to meats, vegetables, fruits, dairy products and grains, including proper storage of these items according to health standards. An understanding of seasonings for a range of culturally diverse foods is helpful, as is knowledge of common food allergens and their substitutes.
Health and Safety Standards
All cooks must consistently practice safe food handling techniques and maintain a sanitary service area, including cutting board stations, service areas and counter tops in their work area. Banquet cooks often work in the public eye and must keep their uniform, apron and personal appearance clean and presentable. Adherence to all safety protocols is required, particularly in the handling and transportation of foods from the kitchen to the dining facility as well as knife work at carving stations.
Banquet cooks work under the Head Chef and the Catering Director and must follow orders with minimal supervision, including recipes and presentation techniques in adherence to institution standards. Other duties include completing kitchen prep lists and following protocol for setting up and breaking down banquet stations, including cleaning and food storage procedures after service.
Like many restaurant positions, banquet cooks often work long hours with minimal breaks and are on their feet for the majority of the work shift. During this time, cooks must maintain a positive attitude, particularly when serving the public, and have enough stamina to work efficiently throughout the entire service. Banquet cooks are also required to move hot boxes, coolers and large containers of food products from the kitchen to the service area, requiring some heavy lifting ability.
Nikki Jardin began freelance writing in 2009 and focuses on food and travel articles. She has been a professional cook and caterer for more than 20 years. She holds a degree in environmental science from Humboldt State University.