Welcome to the jungle—I mean, the kitchen.
Just as the bartender has their always important barback, an executive or head chef has their line cook. It’s one of the first jobs available in any kitchen and a great learning opportunity for future head chefs. These nine tips will help new line cooks succeed in the kitchen.
Choose the right kitchen
1. Find an environment where you’re learning everyday
In the U.S., 90% of restaurant managers and 80% of restaurant owners started in entry-level positions. Line cooks have the opportunity to pick up a variety of different skills, both in the kitchen and in restaurant management. When searching for a line cook job, prioritize kitchens where you can learn.
2. Pick your head chef carefully
Research the chefs that run the kitchens you want to work in. A good head chef believes in training and educating their staff. Those are the types of chefs who will teach you the most and improve your line cook skills.
3. Understand how your kitchen team operates
Kitchens have a rhythm and internal language all their own. The ability to pick up on the language of your kitchen is a valuable skill that will stay with you from job to job.
Set yourself apart
4. Commit and show you’re willing to do the work
Arriving early for your shift shows that you’re a hard worker and dedicated to keeping the kitchen running smoothly. Don’t let your station get messy and keep your station organized. Make sure you’re also keeping up on necessary kitchen prep.
5. Volunteer for the work no one else will
Volunteering for jobs around the kitchen showcases your drive to learn new things. This can include learning how to create a schedule or taking inventory with a sous chef.
6. Demonstrate your passion and support your team
Bringing energy to your work in the kitchen shows that you care about the kitchen and the process. Be that person who lifts up your co-workers and be a leader in the kitchen.
7. Take time to teach others around you
As you gain more experience, use your newfound knowledge to teach new line cooks around you. Not only will this strengthen your team, but it will demonstrate mastery and leadership in the kitchen.
Take care of yourself
8. Find time to exercise
Line cooks often are on their feet for over ten hours per day. You’ll be asked to lift heavy boxes of supplies and work in a cramped space surrounded by fire and knives. For a job this physically demanding, staying fit and nimble is essential.
9. Get enough sleep
As a new line cook, you’ll be learning a lot of new things in a stressful environment. Make sure you’re getting enough sleep to help you stay focused on what you need to do during each shift.
A well-trained line cook is the backbone of every successful restaurant. It’s your responsibility to maintain and fulfill the executive chef’s standards and vision in a demanding environment. But, it’s also an opportunity to learn while working your way up in the kitchen.