How to Hire a Cook

Does your growing business need a cook? Cooks can assist with the preparation and execution of your kitchen duties.

Here are some tips to help you find great cook candidates and make the right hire for your business.

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Cooks searching for jobs on Indeed*

360,809

Job seekers that clicked cook jobs

17,199

Total number of employers with active cook jobs

65,260

Cook jobs that received clicks

What is the cost of hiring cook?

  • Common salary in US: $12.53 hourly
  • Typical salaries range from $7.25$23.15 hourly
  • Find more information on Indeed Salary

*Indeed data (US) – March 2021

As of March 2021, cook jobs in the US are very competitive, with an average of 5.5 job seekers per cook job. 

Why hire a cook?

New cooks can add to your overhead and change how your staff works together. A great cook hire can help with the following:

• Preparing ingredients and following recipes to create dishes and meals
• Maintaining inventory of prepared ingredients
• Assisting in the cleaning and maintenance of the kitchen

Deciding between a full-time vs freelance cook 

Cooks are often hired as hourly or salaried employees by restaurants, cafeterias and other establishments with busy kitchens. However, with the rising popularity of food trucks and pop-up restaurants, freelance cooks are becoming more common. If you run a busy restaurant that already has a full-time cook but you need extra help on an on-call basis, hiring a freelance cook is a good option. 

Alternatively, if you know your establishment will require a cook five to seven days a week on a consistent basis, you’ll want to hire a full-time employee. Freelance cooks also work at catered events, on location during film projects and on cruise ships. Determining whether you need a full-time or freelance cook can also depend on your overall budget and the specific needs of your business. 

What are the types of cooks?

In restaurants, hotels, cruise ships and other establishments that serve food, there are several types of cooks who work in the kitchens, all with specific duties. Here are the most common types of cooks working in the food and beverage industry:

  • Prep cookPrep cooks are responsible for a wide range of kitchen tasks assigned by head chefs and kitchen managers. Duties include chopping ingredients such as vegetables and fruits, ensuring all food storage bins are properly stocked for each shift, preparing vats of salad dressing and keeping the cooking area clean and sanitized.
  • Line cookLine cooks work in busy kitchens and assist head chefs with preparing and plating menu items. Line cooks work closely with servers to ensure timely delivery of freshly prepared and hot meals, and they’re often responsible for cooking desserts and appetizers on their own without assistance from head chefs.
  • Fry cook: Fry cooks assist head chefs with preparing menu items, and they’re often assigned to the kitchen grill to help cook burger patties, chicken, bacon and eggs and other fried items. Fry cooks are generally required to have at least one year of kitchen experience. 

Where to find cooks

To find the right cook for your business, consider trying out a few different recruiting strategies. 

  • Post a help wanted sign. Posting a help wanted sign in the window of your restaurant or cafe is a great way to recruit potential candidates who are local to the area or frequent your establishment. 
  • Recruit from within. Does your restaurant have any kitchen workers who are looking to move up? If you’ve got a busser or dishwasher with cooking skills, they may be interested in training for a cook position. This is beneficial because they’re already familiar with your restaurant’s menu items and the layout of your kitchen.
  • Post on social media. If you have social media accounts for your business with active followers, creating a post describing the cook position is an easy way to recruit interested parties. 
  • Post your job online. Try posting your cook job on Indeed to find and attract quality cook candidates. 

What are the types of cooks?

In restaurants, hotels, cruise ships and other establishments that serve food, there are several types of cooks who work in the kitchens, all with specific duties. Here are the most common types of cooks working in the food and beverage industry:

  • Prep cookPrep cooks are responsible for a wide range of kitchen tasks assigned by head chefs and kitchen managers. Duties include chopping ingredients such as vegetables and fruits, ensuring all food storage bins are properly stocked for each shift, preparing vats of salad dressing and keeping the cooking area clean and sanitized.
  • Line cookLine cooks work in busy kitchens and assist head chefs with preparing and plating menu items. Line cooks work closely with servers to ensure timely delivery of freshly prepared and hot meals, and they’re often responsible for cooking desserts and appetizers on their own without assistance from head chefs.
  • Fry cook: Fry cooks assist head chefs with preparing menu items, and they’re often assigned to the kitchen grill to help cook burger patties, chicken, bacon and eggs and other fried items. Fry cooks are generally required to have at least one year of kitchen experience. 

Writing a cook job description

Finding qualified candidates for your open cook position requires a detailed job description. A cook job description includes a compelling summary of the role, a detailed list of duties and responsibilities and the required and preferred skills for the position.

When writing your cook job description, consider including some or all of the following keywords to improve the visibility of your job posting. These are the most popular search terms leading to clicks on cook jobs, according to Indeed data.

  • Cook
  • Restaurant
  • Food service
  • Hiring immediately
  • Cashier
  • Teen
  • Cooks
  • Food
  • Cooking
  • Line cook

Interviewing cook candidates

Strong candidates for cook positions will be confident answering questions regarding:

• The safe handling and preparation of all food
• Keeping a clean and efficient workspace
• Ability to manage the cooking and plating of several dishes at once

Need help coming up with interview questions? See our list of cook interview questions for examples (with sample answers). 

FAQs about how to hire a cook

What does a cook wear?

Uniforms are sometimes required in restaurants or establishments with busy kitchens to help staff distinguish cooks from other kitchen workers. Uniforms can include dark pants, aprons and chefs’ hats. In all kitchens, laws require that staff keep their hair covered with a net or other type of protective covering. Anti-slip shoes are also a requirement for all kitchen workers. 

How do I choose between two good cook candidates?

A common practice when there are two great candidates for a position is to choose the individual with more experience or with experience specific to your establishment. For example, if you run a restaurant that serves Italian or French cuisine, it may be a good idea to hire someone who has experience with these specific menu items. 

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