The job description of a prep cook can vary based on the size of the restaurant and the type of food that is served. A prep cook is an essential member of the kitchen team that prepares the food items offered on the menu to the customers.
A prep cook has the task of preparing all raw food and ingredients for the line cooks and chefs who assemble and cook it so that it can be served to the customers in a tasty and visually appealing manner.
Essential Duties and Responsibilities of a Prep Cook
- Receives deliveries and stores food in refrigerators and freezers.
- Rotates stock in containers to maintain freshness.
- Cleans food preparation areas and removes garbage from the kitchen.
- Makes lists of items that need to be ordered and assists in keeping the kitchen organized.
- Prepares the ingredients for chefs to cook the entrees and meals that are offered on the menu.
- Washes, chops, grates and slices vegetables to go in various dishes.
- Cuts and slices meats to the appropriate portion sizes.
- Makes appetizers, soups and salads so that chefs can concentrate on entrees and main dishes.
- Complies with special food handling requirements for certain dishes such as vegan or gluten-free.
- Assists in cleaning the kitchen before closing for the night.
- Fills in busing tables or cooking when the restaurant is short-staffed.
Required Knowledge, Skills and Abilities
- Possesses knowledge of safe food-handling procedures, sanitary kitchen conditions, proper hand washing techniques and rules for securing hair.
- Pays attention to small details, has excellent reading comprehension skills and is able to follow instructions correctly.
- Has the ability to follow directions from the chef and is able to work well under pressure and in a fast-paced, high stress environment.
- Demonstrates excellent organizational, time management and multi-tasking skills.
- Displays superior knife skills and can quickly and safely slice or chop meal ingredients into exact dimensions called for in the recipe.
- Possesses a clear understanding of weights and measures and has good math skills.
- Has a strong sense of taste and smell as well as excellent hand and finger dexterity.
- Demonstrates the ability to handle criticism well and learn from mistakes during the training process.
Education and Experience
- High school cooking classes.
- High school diploma.
- Previous restaurant experience.
- On-the-job training in knife use and safe and sanitary food handling procedures.
- Associate’s degree in culinary arts from a community college or technical school.
- Certificate of proficiency from a culinary arts institute.
- Works unusual hours that coincide with the restaurant’s hours including late nights and weekends.
- Spends a great deal of time in a hot, busy kitchen.
- Endures a fast-paced environment and stressful situations.
- Sustains minor injuries including cuts and burns while preparing food.
- A prep cook earns an average annual salary of $16,000 to $22,000 depending on the type of restaurant and level of experience.
- Hourly wages for a prep cook range from $8 to $12 an hour.