If you have a passion for cooking, love working in a fast-paced environment and want to start a culinary career, then a job as a line cook is the place to start.
Consider what type of cuisine you'd like to explore as you begin to look at open positions. Whether you want to learn more about ethnic dishes or dessert-making there are many restaurants that you can apply to.
Know your responsibilities
As a line cook, you'll be working directly under the chef. Depending on how large the restaurant is, you can expect to work with several other line cooks as well. Before you begin, you'll undergo kitchen and food safety training. Know what's expected of you once you complete your training – here are some of the tasks that you'll be tending to as a line cook.
- Station maintenance: Every line cook has his or her own food station. Everyone is responsible for his or her area and you're expected to prepare yours ahead of time. This means making sure that all the necessary tools are in place and ready to be used, including knives and plates.
- Food preparation: Whether you're working at a sandwich shop or a fine dining restaurant, there are small food preparation tasks that need to be completed prior to opening. These may be prepared the night before or the morning of. These tasks include chopping up vegetables, mixing sauces or cutting meat. If there are any special events taking place, you'll probably be doing extra prep work with other line cooks.
- Cooking: Once the restaurant doors open, you have to start cooking and keep up with orders. This requires a lot of walking, and spills are inevitable in a kitchen. Stay safe by investing in close-toed, slip-resistant shoes, which will help protect you from slips and sharp edges. You'll probably start out at one station, then learn the others as you get used to the work environment. Being a line cook is one of the fastest ways to learn all about a commercial kitchen.
- Cleaning: The kitchen will be in need of a good cleaning at the end of the day. Everybody is expected to pitch in with this essential task. Attention to detail is key because missed spots could become contaminated. If you have any concerns while cleaning pieces of equipment, never hesitate to ask a more seasoned line cook or your manager. It's better to err on the side of caution when it comes to food safety.
Staying safe in the kitchen means dressing properly. Long-sleeved shirts, long pants and close-toed, nonslip shoes will protect you from the many hazards found in a commercial kitchen. Additionally, if you have long hair, you'll have to tie it back for kitchen and food safety.
- Regardless of whether or not you're within view of customers when you're in the kitchen, maintaining personal cleanliness is best practice. Needless to say, there will be many food stains on your clothes. Keeping a clean outfit in your locker or in your bag will ensure that you always look presentable to your co-workers, managers and guests. It also shows professionalism and your commitment to the job.
- If you love cooking and want to break into the industry, then it's time to start looking at open positions for line chefs. As long as you follow training, adhere to safety best practices and show your genuine interest, you'll start climbing the culinary ladder in no time!
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