Assistant Cook

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Assistant Cook


How come the food we prepare at home never tastes the same as it does in a restaurant? For instance, if you have a special pasta with mushrooms and a rosee sauce and you try and duplicate the recipe at home, it probably will not taste the same, nor as good. Do not fret about your cooking skills! Keep in mind that cooks and their assistants are highly trained food makers who have experience in preparing and making delicious, scrumptious meals, appetizers and desserts.

Assistant cooks assist cooks and chefs in food preparation and cooking activities in restaurants, hotels, cafes, bars, institutions and other food establishments. Their duties include not just cooking but also preparing food by chopping and dicing, cleaning, pre-baking and other duties to help a kitchen run smoothly.

In smaller kitchens, assistant cooks may take upon more responsiblity and maybe even work alone, but in larger facilities, the assistant cook's duties may be encompass many different tasks, including preparing meats and vegetables, marinating foods, making desserts, soups, sauces or salads, and also cleaning and actually cooking.

Regardless of how many or few of these tasks they are responsible for, all assistant cooks must ensure that their food meets high standards of taste, appearance and hygiene during preparation. As they gain experience and trust with their supervisor, they may become responsible for creating new recipes or dishes, perfecting classic dishes, and ensuring safety and hygiene are high priorities for each and every preparatory step.

Assistant cooks revel in making people's stomachs and brains happy by cooking for them. They are usually aspiring cooks and chefs, studying and training while learning their way around the kitchen.
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Institute of Culinary Education - Los Angeles
  • Named a Culinary School of Excellence by the International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP) in 2015.
  • Accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC).
Programs Offered:
  • Health-Supportive Culinary Arts
  • Culinary Arts
  • Pastry & Baking Arts
  • And more...



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  Interests and Skills  
Successful assistant cooks have an excellent sense of taste and flavor, and are very skilled in cutting, chopping and preparing all types of food. They should work well in a team environment, and have good hand-eye coordination and manual dexterity, for technical tasks. Good health and excellent hygiene are also key traits, for assistant cooks work with the food that people eat.

Those who work in busy kitchens need a good memory, and excellent organizational skills. Sometimes, assistant cooks get many different orders shouted at them, so it is important to prioritize what needs to be cooked when, so that the timing works out well. For example, if one person orders a steak well-done and another a pasta, it is important that the steak go on the grill as soon as possible, since a pasta only take a couple of minutes. Thus, assistant cooks must be able to work well under stressful situations.

  Typical Tasks  
  • Prepare ingredients, including washing and slicing vegetables
  • Partially cook food in advance of orders
  • Assemble and measure ingredients to fill orders
  • Work as a line cook following the careful instructions of the cook or chef
  • May bake some items and finish desserts
  • Clean food preparation and storage areas
  • Let supervisors know when supplies are getting low or equipment is not working properly
  • May sweep and scrub floors, remove garbage and clean kitchen equipment
  • Assistant cooks work in hot, humid, busy and hectic kitchens full of chefs, sous-chefs, apprentices, prep cooks, dishwashers, and servers. Assistant cooks do not have a regular 9-to-5 daily schedule, as most work lunch and/or dinner shifts. They may only work one shift, for five or six hours, but they may work all day, and be cooking for 12 hours in a row. They work both evenings and weekends, unless they work for a hospital, school or other environment that is open for regular business hours only. Finally, burns and cuts are common occupational hazards for assistant cooks, as they are constantly chopping with sharp knives and cooking with burning hot pots and pans.

  Workplaces, Employers and Industries  
  • Assistant cooks work in restaurants, hotels, pubs, resorts, cruise ships and retirement homes. Some work for hospitals, while others may be employed by catering businesses.

  Long Term Career Potential  
What does the future hold for assistant cooks? Assistant cooks have a bright road ahead of them if they put in hard work, effort, creativity and initiative. They can study to become cooks, chefs or executive chefs in more upscale restaurants, where they gain more control and creativity over the menu. They may also become teachers in cooking schools, work as food or restaurant consultants, develop recipes with test kitchens, or become cookbook writers. Some may also advance to open their own restaurant or start up their own catering company. The possibilities look great for assistant cooks.

  Educational Paths  
There is no standard educational path for becoming an assistant cook. Most get hired as assistants and get their training on the job. The assistant cook is something of an apprentice, however attending an apprenticeship program, will teach and certify the assistant to become a full-time cook and chef.

Cooks receive their training either through informal, on-the-job training or through an apprenticeship program. Trade certification can be obtained either through an apprenticeship program or after several years of work experience. While trade certification is not mandatory to become a cook, it can be a requirement for many employers and can also help secure employment.

Apprenticeship programs involve a combination of on-the-job training with classroom instruction. A pre-apprenticeship course may also be available which takes about five to six months to complete at a community college and is designed to help you get connected with a good company to apprentice with. It is important to apprentice with a reputable company as that is your education. While some apprenticeship programs may not require a high school diploma, it is important to note that employers generally prefer to hire high school graduates.

Apprenticeships can vary, however a typical apprenticeship lasts four to five years. The apprenticeship is a paid position however wages are about 50% less of what an employer pays the journeyperson, with yearly increases. After successfully completing the apprenticeship requirements, their state industry training and apprenticeship office awards the cook a certificate of completion.

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition,
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, 2002,

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Institute of Culinary Education - Los Angeles
  • Named a Culinary School of Excellence by the International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP) in 2015.
  • Accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC).
Programs Offered:
  • Health-Supportive Culinary Arts
  • Culinary Arts
  • Pastry & Baking Arts
  • And more...

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