Restaurant Cook  What They Do

Just the Facts


Prepares, seasons, and cooks soups, meats, vegetables, desserts, and other foodstuffs in restaurants. May order supplies, keep records and accounts, price items on menu, or plan menu.

This career is part of the Hospitality and Tourism cluster Restaurants and Food/Beverage Services pathway.


A person in this career:

  • Inspects and cleans food preparation areas, such as equipment and work surfaces, or serving areas to ensure safe and sanitary food-handling practices.
  • Ensures food is stored and cooked at correct temperature by regulating temperature of ovens, broilers, grills, and roasters.
  • Ensures freshness of food and ingredients by checking for quality, keeping track of old and new items, and rotating stock.
  • Turns or stirs foods to ensure even cooking.
  • Seasons and cooks food according to recipes or personal judgment and experience.
  • Bakes, roasts, broils, and steams meats, fish, vegetables, and other foods.
  • Weighs, measures, and mixes ingredients according to recipes or personal judgment, using various kitchen utensils and equipment.
  • Portions, arranges, and garnishes food, and serves food to waiters or patrons.
  • Observes and tests foods to determine if they have been cooked sufficiently, using methods such as tasting, smelling, or piercing them with utensils.
  • Washes, peels, cuts, and seeds fruits and vegetables to prepare them for consumption.

Working Conditions and Physical Demands

People who do this job report that:

  • You would often handle loads up to 20 lbs., sometimes up to 50 lbs. You might do a lot of lifting, carrying, pushing or pulling.
  • Work in this occupation involves use of protective items such as safety shoes, glasses, gloves, hearing protection, a hard hat, or personal flotation devices
  • Exposure to pollutants, gases, dust, fumes, odors, poor ventilation, etc.
  • Conditions are very hot (above 90 F) or very cold (under 32 F)
  • Work in this occupation involves using your hands to hold, control, and feel objects more than one-third of the time
  • Work in this occupation requires being inside most of the time
  • Work in this occupation involves making repetitive motions more than one-third of the time
  • Work in this occupation involves standing more than one-third of the time
  • Work in this occupation involves walking or running more than one-third of the time

Working in this career involves (physical activities):

  • Identifying color and seeing differences in color, including shades and brightness
  • Seeing clearly up close
  • Speaking clearly enough to be able to be understood by others
  • Identifying and understanding the speech of another person
  • Using abdominal and lower back muscles repeatedly or over time without tiring

Work Hours and Travel

  • Irregular hours
  • Weekend work

Specialty and Similar Careers

Careers that are more detailed or close to this career:

  • Food Service Worker -- Duties include responsibility for instructing subordinate food service workers in dining hall techniques and methods; for maintaining high standards of cleanliness; and for assuring that patrons are served in a pleasant and courteous manner.
  • Fry Cook -- Prepares hamburgers and other fast food meals.
  • Line Cook -- Holds down one station on a restaurant line and can be expected to perform a range of duties related to the station.
  • Prep Cook (Preparation Cook) -- Assists in the preparation of meals by chopping vegetables, making salads, and putting together entrees.
  • Railroad Cook -- Prepares, seasons, and cooks food in railroad dining car, following recipes for preplanned menus.
  • Sandwich Artist -- Greets and serves guests, prepares food, maintains food safety and sanitation standards, and handles or processes light paperwork.
  • Saucier -- Prepares sauces, gravy, soups and sometimes pasta dishes for restaurants, hotels or other hospitality businesses.