Line Cook Job Description: Top Duties and Qualifications

Last updated: August 22, 2022

A Line Cook, or Prep Cook, plates dishes and completes basic food prepping tasks for a restaurant. Their main duties include preparing and cooking food in a specific station, cleaning up prep areas and making sure the kitchen is stocked.

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Line Cook duties and responsibilities 

A Line Cook prepares food using recipes and menu items created by the Head Chef and helps keep the kitchen running smoothly. Some of their key duties and responsibilities include:

  • Assisting with stocking and setting up the kitchen stations
  • Preparing food including cleaning and cutting the ingredients and cooking main dishes, desserts, appetizers and snacks 
  • Plating prepared foods based on senior chef’s guidance
  • Working with servers to ensure that orders are completed according to request and on time
  • Washing and cleaning the kitchen and cooking utensils and storing the equipment at the end of shifts 
  • Ensuring that the kitchen operation procedures and hygiene meet food safety standards and regulations

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What does a Line Cook do?

Line Cooks work in a restaurant performing basic food preparation tasks and assisting the Executive Chef. They typically complete smaller responsibilities like cutting meat, mixing sauces or chopping vegetables. Line Cooks are often assigned a certain task each time they work and will stay in that section of the food preparation line for a majority of their shift. 

They’re responsible for cleaning their prep station and making sure it’s set up properly before the start of their shift. They’ll also stock the kitchen as needed. Line Cooks must regularly check the food prep and storage areas to ensure they don’t violate any health codes or safety regulations.

Line Cook skills and qualifications

A qualified Line Cook needs a strong set of skills that ensure teamwork and organization in the kitchen. Candidates should have the following qualifications:

  • Completion of vocational school or a two-year associate degree
  • At least one year of cooking experience
  • Excellent kitchen administration knowledge and ability to work as part of a team
  • Strong organization and active listening skills
  • The ability to work on your feet for most of the day and lift 30 pounds at a time 
  • Exceptional time management skills 

Line Cook salary expectations

A Line Cook makes an average of $13.56 per hour. Pay rate may depend on level of experience, education and the geographical location. 

Line Cook education and training requirements

Most Line Cook positions require no formal education besides a high school diploma. However, Line Cooks can pursue college degrees and certificates in areas such as culinary arts, food preparation, cooking, baking, recipe design, food safety and kitchen administration. A Line Cook learns on the job even if they have prior work experience. This is because each employer follows different procedures, and there is a wide range of safety and regulatory policies. 

Their training includes vegetable preparation, butchering of meat and seafood, cooking sauces, making recipes and translating instructions into finished dishes. Candidates can also obtain certifications in safe food handling, specialist skills such as gourmet baking and advanced cooking skills. 

Line Cook experience requirements

An experienced Line Cook will have excellent food preparation and cooking skills. They will know the different methods of chopping vegetables, dividing meat, filleting fish and combining salads, herbs and spices, along with how to portion dishes and work with precision to bring recipes to life. They will also know the safe and proper methods of operating different kitchen appliances and utensils. 

They will need stamina to work long hours in a fast-paced kitchen. They also need to be able to lift heavy objects and collaborate effectively with other kitchen staff to meet client and executive expectations. 

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Frequently asked questions about Line Cooks

 

Who does a Line Cook report to?

The Line Cook typically reports to a Chef, Head Chef, Sous Chef or an Executive Chef, depending on the restaurant they work in. The Chef will provide the Line Cook with their assignments and instructions at the start of their shift. From there, the Chef will continue to inform the Line Cook of what tasks they need to complete in order to produce a quality meal for patrons. If the Line Cook has any questions about how to prepare a certain menu item, they’ll typically ask the Chef for advice and guidance. 

 

What settings do Line Cooks typically work in?

Most Line Cooks will work in larger restaurants with many people on staff to collaborate and prepare meals with. Others may serve in smaller restaurants, where only a few people are on the team with them. When this occurs, the Line Cook may have more responsibilities and can be expected to work at several stations at a time during their shift. 

Some Line Cooks work in a fast-food environment, creating meals with less complex recipes than in restaurants. There are also Line Cooks who may work in hotel restaurants, where they serve on a larger team that provides meals for both the hotel restaurant or for guests who order room service.

 

What's the difference between a Line Cook and a Sous Chef?

While they both work together on a food preparation team to cook meals together, there are a few differences between a Sous Chef and a Line Cook. Sous Chefs usually work directly under the Head or Executive Chef. They often handle more complex tasks than Line Cooks, like planning menus, ordering equipment and supplies and training cooks. 

Some Sous Chefs may be in charge of Line Cooks, while other establishments only allow Sous Chefs to be in charge of the staff is the Head Chef is absent. A Line Cook is often only in charge of more basic preparation tasks and doesn’t have as much experience or education as a Sous Chef. 

 

What makes a good Line Cook?

A good Line Cook must be great multi-tasking as they’re often given several preparation tasks to complete at once. They should also be effective team workers since they’re usually working on a preparation line collaborating with many other Cooks and Chefs. An effective Line Cook candidate demonstrates great organizational skills as they’re responsible for keeping their space tidy and ensuring the kitchen is fully stocked and ready before their shift begins.

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