On the Line / Hiring / What is a short order cook?

What is a short order cook?

We answer the basics about the role of a short order cook, their hourly rate, experience needed, and how to hire for the position.

Short order cook hero

What is a short order cook?

A short order cook is responsible for preparing quick to cook menu items in a fast-paced restaurant. The phrase “short order” refers to the short amount of time they’re expected to turn around an order.

Short order cooks must be able to stay calm when the pressure is on. They’re often responsible for cooking, food prep, and keeping their kitchen stations clean and organized.

What are a short order cook’s duties and responsibilities?

A short order cook’s duties and responsibilities include:

  • Preparing food to customer’s specifications
  • Understanding basic recipes 
  • Using kitchen equipment and grilling, sautéing, and frying
  • Managing orders so that all items are ready to serve simultaneously
  • Preparing ingredients and stocking kitchen supplies
  • Plating food and coordinating with service staff
  • Maintaining a clean and organized kitchen or workstation
  • Understanding and adhering to all food safety standards

How much are short order cooks paid?

Short order cooks earn, on average, between $22,800 and $31,000 annually. Their average hourly wage is $13.51. 

What are the qualities that make a good short order cook?

A good short order cook is efficient and precise. They work well under pressure and are able to multitask to get plates out of the kitchen quickly. Since short order cooks need to consistently create the same quick to cook menu items again and again, it’s important they maintain the same quality and standards every time. 

Short order cooks also must be able to work with a team and have good communication skills to coordinate with servers and other cooks.

How to become a short order cook

Becoming a short order cook requires a willingness to churn out easy to prepare menu items at a fast-pace. Many restaurants that hire short order cooks are willing to train employees on the job. However, previous experience in a food service business would help to land a position.

It's good to browse online job boards for short order cook openings, but you can also keep an eye out for “now hiring” signs at diners and cafes. Restaurant managers are often impressed by applicants that take the initiative to visit the restaurant or reach out personally to express interest in the job.

How to hire a short order cook

Start the hiring process for a short order cook by making a list of the skills, qualifications, and experience you want candidates to possess. Remember to consider how much training you are willing to provide to new hires and the hours you need them to work. Then, you should be able to imagine the kind of person that is a good fit for the job.

When interviewing short order cook candidates, ask them about their knowledge of cooking and how they perform under pressure. Also, pay attention to their personality and demeanor to assess how they will fit into the team. Remember to verify their experience and skills before hiring.

Posting a job on local job boards is a good way to get applications from a range of candidates. A “now hiring” sign in the window might work just as well.

Short order cooks work in fast-paced, high-volume kitchens and are masters of efficient cooking methods. Working as a short order cook is a great way to prove your skills in the kitchen.

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