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Culinary and Food Service Job Descriptions

Culinary Career Earnings Potential

Employment Outlook for the Food Service Industry

Training for a Culinary Career

Working Conditions in Restaurants, Hotels and Resorts

Culinary Job Descriptions

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Restaurants, hotels and other food service industries may often employ three distinct types of employees -- chefs, cooks, and food preparation workers.

  • Chefs may responsible for directing the activities of other kitchen workers, menu planning, recipe creation, food and supply ordering, and some specific cooking duties. They are typically the most senior members of the staff.
  • Cooks may responsible for the day to day food preparation at the restaurant or facility. Depending on the size of the facility, there may be several cooks, each responsible for a different part of the menu, or a different type of food. For example, there are fry cooks, vegetable cooks, pastry cooks, and other specialties.

  • Food Preparation Workers may work under the supervision of chefs and cooks, and typically perform less skilled duties. For example, they may chop vegetables, prepare salads, and prepare materials used by the restaurant's chefs and cooks.

Chef and Cook Job Duties

While chefs and cooks share similar duties, chefs typically have more training than cooks, including culinary degrees. The exact duties performed by a chef, cook, or food preparation worker often depends on the type of establishment that employs them. For example, a large restaurant, hotel, or resort may have all three types of workers, with separate staffs for differing food types. A smaller restaurant may have a single cook or chef, and several helpers. In this case, the cook would be responsible for preparation of all types of meals.

In addition to being divided by food specialty, chef and cook job titles may sometimes determined by the type of institution that employs them. Institutional cooks work in hospitals, cafeterias, and other establishments that typically serve a regular clientele. Short order cooks work in restaurants that emphasize fast service, and are trained to prepare a wide variety of items quickly. There is a small market for household cooks, who have the entire kitchen responsibility, including cooking, cleaning, and menu planning, for a family.


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