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How to Write a Line Cook Job Description (Duties, Responsibilities)
On any given night, chances are the line cooks are making the food. Yet, customers may never know their names. Whether a high-end establishment with a famous chef or a small diner, nearly every restaurant has line cooks to guarantee things run smoothly in the kitchen, from ingredient prep to getting finished plates in the servers' hands.
The list of duties in a line cook job description is long and varied, depending on the type of restaurant that’s hiring. But, in most places, they clean and stock the cook stations with all the necessary supplies. Whatever can be made ahead — like your restaurant’s famous beurre blanc sauce — also falls into the line cook's purview.
During service, they’re often assigned a set number of dishes from the menu to execute all night, overseeing the cooking process from start to finish. And they’re responsible for getting plates out on time and into the hands of servers and runners.
The position of a line cook is considered a stepping stone to becoming a chef de cuisine or head chef, and many line cooks have culinary school training. That said, formal training is not required. A passion for cooking, knowledge of kitchen tools and equipment, and the ability to stay organized under pressure is the most critical skills to possess.
List of Duties for the Job
Knowledge of cooking and kitchen equipment
Executing dishes according to a chef’s specifications is no easy feat without some serious skills. A line cook must know the kitchen like the back of their hand. Long before service begins, line cooks whip up sauces, boil potatoes, debone fish, peel produce, and organize stations. Depending on the restaurant, they might be charged with getting specific components of a dish ready for the chef by frying, grilling, baking, or sautéing ingredients in advance. Many line cooks are solely responsible for their dishes from start to finish. And they often jump in to help their colleagues by tasting food or checking the temperature of meats. Above all else, the position requires pro cooking skills, a finely tuned palate, and knowledge of specialized equipment.
Strong time management skills
Line cooks are responsible for their station’s workflow and getting meals out on time. This means they must know all the steps for their station and how much time each step requires. It’s essential for line cooks to time their tasks correctly because everyone in the kitchen depends on each other. One line cook might be in charge of roasting a piece of beef, for instance, and they will then pass it to the next line cook, who does the sear. All the steps must be orchestrated for optimal flavor and, of course, to get the plates out on time to customers.
Ability to perform under pressure
Even before hit shows like The Bear brought restaurant kitchens into our living rooms, most people knew that life on the line was fast-paced, frenzied, and exciting. It’s no secret that line cooks juggle many tasks and are constantly on their toes. The most successful at the job are attentive listeners who understand and implement instructions quickly and correctly. The pace can be intense, and line cooks must keep calm in a pressure cooker environment. On the other hand, they’re just as likely to be julienning zest or slicing bread for hours on end. Promising candidates will be just as comfortable with the monotony of essential but repetitive tasks.
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Line Cook Job Description Sample
To make creating a Line Cook job description easier, here’s a sample you can use.
Job Title: Line Cook
Salary: $20–$25/hour – commensurate with experience
Tip Income: No
Schedule: Full-time (40 hours per week). Wednesday–Sunday
Role: We seek a professional and organized Line Cook to prepare food to the chef’s specifications and set up stations for our daily changing menu. The Line Cook will work with other team members in the kitchen to execute signature dishes, assisting the executive sous chef and chef de cuisine with their daily tasks. Successful candidates will be organized, self-motivated, and have problem-solving abilities.
Understanding of cooking skills, knife handling, and safety
Ability to take direction from the Sous Chefs and Executive Chef
Cook menu items in cooperation with the rest of the staff
Ensure that food comes out simultaneously, in high quality, and in a timely fashion
Ability to work calmly and effectively under pressure
Set up stocking stations with all necessary supplies
Ability to work with speed and efficiency
Fortitude to work in a fast-paced environment
Additional requirements: Able to walk or stand for long periods. Must be able to push, pull, or lift to 30 pounds. Must reach items at varying heights (on shelves, on the ground, etc.)
Tips for Writing Effective Job Descriptions
The opening section is crucial in attracting the interest and attention of candidates. Highlight the best parts of the position and your restaurant to differentiate the job from all the rest.
Keep the job description concise. Focus less on the day-to-day aspects of the job and more on the position's core responsibilities.
Clarify necessary skills from desired skills and be clear about the job's physical demands.
The ideal candidate will not be filling time until something better comes along. Line cooks have a true passion for cooking and take pride in their abilities. Working on the line requires skill, efficiency, curiosity, and a dash of fearlessness.
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