Line cooks are entry-level workers in restaurants, cafeterias and other establishments that serve food. Although some line cooks have formal training or attend vocational schools, many learn through apprenticeship programs or on-the-job training, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Duties can vary according to the establishment, but most line cooks prepare some or all of the food under the supervision and direction of a senior cook or executive chef.
Preparing Food Is the Main Duty
The primary task of a line cook is to ensure food is prepared exactly as the establishment, chef and customer prefers, according to the Culinary School Network Website. Line cooks might be responsible for a single type of dish or a variety of foods, depending on the kitchen size and whether it is a gourmet restaurant or other food service facility. Line cooks might prepare work for their own or other cook stations by chopping vegetables, cutting meat or making sauces. Some line cooks cook or prepare certain dishes, and must ensure the food is ready to eat and the temperature is correct.
Other Duties: Cleanup and Restocking
At the end of the shift, the line cook cleans her own and sometimes other work stations. She must wash pots and pans, sanitize work surfaces and take out garbage, prepare leftover food for storage and return unused supplies or food to refrigerators, shelves or other storage areas. A line cook might also stock or restock workstations, pantries, refrigerators or community shelves and storage areas. She might unload delivery trucks and check or complete an inventory.
2016 Salary Information for Cooks
Cooks earned a median annual salary of $23,250 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, cooks earned a 25th percentile salary of $19,890, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $28,040, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 2,403,000 people were employed in the U.S. as cooks.