Is becoming a restaurant cook right for me?

The first step to choosing a career is to make sure you are actually willing to commit to pursuing the career. You don’t want to waste your time doing something you don’t want to do. If you’re new here, you should read about:

What do restaurant cooks do?
Career Satisfaction
Are restaurant cooks happy with their careers?
What are restaurant cooks like?

Still unsure if becoming a restaurant cook is the right career path? to find out if this career is right for you. Perhaps you are well-suited to become a restaurant cook or another similar career!

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How to become a Restaurant Cook

To become a restaurant cook, you can follow these general steps:

  • Gain Basic Culinary Skills: Start by learning basic culinary skills through self-study, cooking classes, or entry-level culinary programs. Familiarize yourself with cooking techniques, knife skills, food safety practices, and kitchen equipment commonly used in restaurant kitchens.
  • Get Entry-Level Experience: Look for entry-level positions such as kitchen assistant, prep cook, or dishwasher in restaurants, catering companies, or food service establishments. These roles provide opportunities to gain hands-on experience in a professional kitchen environment and learn from experienced cooks and chefs.
  • Pursue Formal Culinary Training: Consider enrolling in a culinary arts program, community college culinary program, or vocational training program to further develop your culinary skills and knowledge. Culinary education programs offer structured coursework, hands-on training, and industry-relevant curriculum taught by experienced chefs.
  • Seek Apprenticeships or Internships: Apply for apprenticeship programs or internships offered by restaurants, hotels, or culinary organizations to gain practical experience and exposure to different kitchen environments. Apprenticeships typically involve working under the supervision of a mentor chef while receiving on-the-job training and guidance.
  • Build Your Culinary Repertoire: Expand your culinary repertoire by experimenting with different ingredients, cuisines, and cooking techniques in your own kitchen. Practice cooking recipes from cookbooks, online resources, or cooking shows to develop your culinary creativity and confidence.
  • Develop Professional Skills: Hone your professional skills such as time management, teamwork, communication, and attention to detail, which are essential for success in a restaurant kitchen. Demonstrate your reliability, work ethic, and willingness to learn as you gain experience and progress in your culinary career.
  • Apply for Cook Positions: Once you feel confident in your culinary skills and experience, start applying for cook positions in restaurants or food service establishments. Look for job openings that match your skill level and culinary interests, and tailor your resume and cover letter to highlight your relevant experience and qualifications.
  • Prepare for Interviews: Be prepared to showcase your culinary skills and passion for cooking during job interviews. Practice discussing your culinary background, experiences, and career goals, and be ready to answer questions about your cooking style, favorite dishes to prepare, and ability to work in a fast-paced kitchen environment.

Obtaining certain culinary certifications can enhance your credentials, validate your skills, and demonstrate your commitment to excellence in the culinary field. Here are some certifications relevant to restaurant cooks:

  • ServSafe Food Handler Certification: The ServSafe Food Handler Certification is a widely recognized food safety certification program offered by the National Restaurant Association. It covers essential food safety topics such as proper food handling, sanitation, hygiene, and preventing foodborne illnesses. Many employers in the restaurant industry require or prefer candidates to have this certification.
  • ACF Certified Culinarian (CC): The American Culinary Federation (ACF) offers the Certified Culinarian (CC) certification for entry-level culinary professionals, including cooks, commis chefs, and prep cooks. This certification validates foundational culinary skills and knowledge in cooking techniques, knife skills, food safety, and kitchen operations.
  • ACF Certified Sous Chef (CSC): The ACF Certified Sous Chef (CSC) certification is designed for experienced cooks who aspire to advance to supervisory or leadership roles in the kitchen. It demonstrates competency in culinary techniques, menu planning, cost control, kitchen management, and supervising kitchen staff.
  • ProChef Level 1 Certification: The Culinary Institute of America (CIA) offers the ProChef Level 1 Certification program, which is designed for entry-level and mid-level culinary professionals, including line cooks and station chefs. This certification covers fundamental culinary skills, cooking techniques, flavor development, and professional kitchen practices.
  • Culinary Skills Development Program (CSDP): The Culinary Institute of America (CIA) also offers the Culinary Skills Development Program (CSDP), which provides comprehensive training in basic culinary skills and techniques for aspiring cooks and culinary professionals. While not a certification, completing the CSDP program can enhance your culinary skills and prepare you for a career as a restaurant cook.