7 Transferable Skills to Take From a Line Cook Job

By Danni White on September 12, 2017

Image via Pixabay

If you love to cook, love to eat, love to set tables for dinners, lunches, breakfasts, and brunches, love all the sights and smells of restaurants, food trucks, and mom-and-pop diners, then you’re most likely a bonafide foodie with a potential future in the food and restaurant industry. This industry, in particular, will never run out of job opportunities simply because all people have to eat and many people love to eat.

The three primary things needed for human, animal, and plant survival are water, air, and food. Without these three things, we would all be in a world of trouble. So, if you choose a job in the industry of food or restaurant management, your efforts, I’m sure, will not go unnoticed by the people you serve.

There are many jobs within this field including those of chef, prep cook, assistant cook, nutritionist, food safety director, restaurant manager, dietician, restaurant chain director, and line cook. Working as a line cook can be a wonderful pathway to take to get into the restaurant industry. Line cooks are sometimes confused with prep cooks, but they are not one and the same.

Prep cooks are typically on their way to becoming a full chef, and as such a job is the first step in that direction. Those with this job title are responsible for preparing ingredients and cooking stations as well as assembling dishes according to specifications. This often includes chopping and cutting foods, cooking soups, and stocking and restocking food stations.

A line cook is typically responsible for filling orders from waiters and servers, preparing food for service, ensuring nutrition and sanitation compliance, cleaning up and preserving or throwing out leftovers, and setting up cooking operations as well as stocking supplies.

Now that you know what the responsibilities of a line cook are, here are the most transferable skills you can take from a line cook job to any other job in the food/restaurant industry and even to other industries:

1. Multitasking

Some industries consider multitasking a curse as employees are increasingly being taught to focus on one project before going to the next one in order to improve productivity and reduce stress. However, as a line cook, you must be able to handle multiple food tickets at one time, ensuring the accuracy of each order and a pleasant customer experience.

2. Cleanliness

Nobody likes eating dirty food on dirty dishes or dirty tablecloths. All cooks, but especially line cooks, must ensure clean operations from start to finish. Wherever food is present, a clean surface, dishes, and utensils must be in place. Line cooks must also trim their nails, keep facial hair neat, keep hair on their heads out of the way of food (wear a hat) and practice other terms of basic hygiene. Line cooks should also be and look professional.

3. Teachable

Rookie line cooks must be teachable because they don’t know everything and certainly not enough as line cooks who have been doing the work for several years. Therefore, no matter how much you want to know, you must humble yourself and learn. This is why it is very important to listen to constructive and critical feedback and accept it as part of the business.

4. Feedback

This leads me to write a few words about feedback. Typically, people don’t like to receive feedback. Period. Feedback often comes across as criticism and criticism can be taken as harsh even though it is not really harsh.

Cooking food can be very subjective in terms of texture and taste. Most cooks don’t like to hear anything negative about their food, but on occasion, you will cook the less than perfect meal, and you will hear a customer’s two cents about it. In these rare but inevitable cases, you must listen to it, decide whether it is valuable to you or not, and implement it next time if you can.

5. Details

What sets some restaurants apart from others or some dishes apart from similar dishes is when the cooks pay attention to the details. Cooking is both a science and an art, so a line cook must be precise in the ingredients and measurements. A line cook must also be accurate in knowing what food and how much food to order to keep inventory levels up.

6. Organization

A kitchen can become a house of chaos very quickly, especially during peak times if processes are not put in place and standards adhered to by all working alongside the line cook. Often, a variety of meals have to be prepared at one time and must be done in an organized environment. Line cooks can create structure and order in the kitchen by establishing ground rules, ensuring questions are answered in a timely manner, giving proper direction, and remaining calm.

7. Attitude

It takes both skill and attitude, but more attitude than skill, to succeed in any job. A line cook must have a positive attitude, be willing to learn and teach if necessary, have patience, and be calm in the midst of busyness.

Like anything, practice makes perfect and more practice means more perfection. Accuracy, consistency, safety, and speed are just a few things that make good line cooks great ones.

Danni White is a developmental psychology graduate student at Liberty University. She works in the digital publishing, media, and technology industries. After this degree, she will go on to work on a PhD in social psychology in which she hopes to do research on perception and social cognition’s impact on human behavior. She hopes to apply this research in corporate HR departments and community-based organizations. In her otherwise limited spare time, she blogs, writes and reads. She loves coffee, sports, music, cooking, meeting new people, and binge watching Netflix.

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