Essential Line Cook Skills (And How To Improve Them)
By Indeed Editorial Team
Published 30 June 2022
The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.
Line cooks are hospitality professionals who prepare food and set up essential supplies. They are flexible with their work schedules and usually work in the kitchen for long durations on their feet regularly. If you are thinking of starting your career as a line cook, knowing the skills you can learn and improve to succeed in this role is important. In this article, we define line cook skills, review examples of these skills, discuss steps to improve them, learn how to apply them in the workplace and ways to highlight them during the job application process.
What Are Line Cook Skills?
Line cook skills comprise all the knowledge and abilities required to perform the duties and responsibilities expertly in the position. Line cooks work as a team, including other line cooks, the head chef and other hospitality professionals, to facilitate effective kitchen operations. They prepare food or the portion of dishes, including chopping, baking, mixing different ingredients and preparing sauces. Performing these tasks requires many hard and soft skills, including multitasking, stamina, food and safety knowledge and cooking techniques to become a better line cook.
Essential Line Cook Skills
Here are some important skills you can consider improving as a line cook:
Line cooks work diligently and show dedication to delivering high-quality food to guests. Each restaurant adheres to a set of operating guidelines. One of these standards is a standardised method of cooking and preparing food for guests. A line cook is directly liable for the food that guests consume, so it is crucial that they follow the menu and quality standards when preparing meals.
Line cooks perform multiple tasks simultaneously. As a line cook, you may cook multiple dishes simultaneously and require efficiently managing them all so that you can prepare them quickly and accurately. While cooking, you may also require helping other staff in the team to reduce preparation time. For example, you may require checking the pancakes and flip them when they are ready while smashing some additional blackberries for a syrup during the wait time.
Line cooks may work independently and are also responsible for properly preparing their assigned tasks without constant monitoring. It is essential that they understand fundamental cooking techniques, such as sauteing, simmering, baking, grilling and frying. Knowing various cooking techniques can help you become versatile and get you a chance to work directly under the head chefs and assist them at restaurants and hotels.
Attention to detail
Line cooks require meticulous attention to detail irrespective of restaurant size or menu list. A line cook prepares a dish or portion of a dish with much care and attention to match the guest's requirement. You can improve your attention to detail by reducing distractions and properly listening to guests' requirements and the head chef's instructions.
As a line cook, it is important for you to be clean in your work and comply with organisational standards. Your supervisor or executive chef may observe how clean you are and whether you maintain proper hygiene. When you operate in a clean kitchen and keep your surrounding area free from unnecessary items or wastages, this can help you increase productivity and deliver high-quality food.
Food safety knowledge
Knowledge of food safety is one of the essential skills for line cooks. As a line cook, you are responsible for serving food to guests that are safe to consume. It can include proper food storage, allergy considerations during order preparation, the use of separate equipment for raw meat and clean hands. It also involves having knowledge of the right temperatures to cook particular dishes.
Usually, line cooks collaborate with servers, other line cooks, front office staff and the head cook. As a line cook, you can utilise teamwork in various contexts, including rotating cleaning duties with other kitchen staff, delivering food orders to guests and cooking with other line cooks and chefs. Consider enhancing your communication and empathetic abilities to improve your teamwork skills.
In most kitchens, meal preparation, cooking, sauce preparation and dessert preparation have their particular stations. A station is a designated area for a particular part of meal preparation. Stations help maintain an organised kitchen, improve efficiency, reduce cooks' workload and ensure that guests receive their orders on time. To achieve this, line cooks and other restaurant staff can practise organisational skills.
Interpersonal skills help you communicate effectively, apply teamwork, practice patience and take responsibility. As a line cook, you collaborate with others to help ensure that you adhere to the restaurant's standards. Applying these skills in the workplace can help you contribute to a collaborative and positive work environment and facilitate the kitchen process better and increase efficiency by ensuring effective communication.
How To Improve Your Skills As A Line Cook?
Here are the steps you can follow to improve your skills as a line cook:
1. Gain experience
You can consider getting work experience in the food-service industry to understand the working environment, procedures, culture and duties and responsibilities of the position. Working with experienced cooks or chefs provides you with the opportunity to learn and understand how they work and the skills that are important to succeed in the role. You can also consider getting an internship in similar roles like assistant cook, server and barista.
2. Learn from others
One of the great ways to learn diverse cooking knowledge and techniques is to learn from others. For instance, you may learn to prepare various types of cuisine by yourself or from your colleagues or you can consider having an experienced mentor who can teach you to prepare high-quality foods and other kitchen etiquette. You can also learn by watching and observing videos on cooking-related online channels.
As a line cook, you also use a knife and other kitchen tools to dice, chop and blend food along with cooking. Consider practising these skills to become expert and proficient in using kitchen tools. After work, you can also practise these skills while cooking at home for friends and family.
4. Take cooking classes
A cooking class can help you improve your cooking techniques and other kitchen skills. While formal training is not compulsory to work as a line cook, taking classes can supplement your experience and help you feel more confident in your work. You can also look for cooking videos online by simply searching for skills you want to learn or improve.
5. Ask for feedback
One way to determine whether you are good at cooking is to ask for feedback. You can try to get feedback on your cooking from colleagues, guests and head chefs or a friend or family member who can provide you with constructive and impartial feedback. This way, you can identify areas for improvement as you find your strengths. Mentors can also provide valuable feedback, as they can offer constructive criticism that allows you to find your areas for improvement.
Skills For Line Cooks To Use In The Workplace
Here are some tips you can follow to use your skills in the workplace:
Assist others. Working as a line cook requires teamwork and may require you to assist guests directly. You can help others improve the work process and make a cooperative workplace while demonstrating your teamwork and communication skills.
Stay updated with food trends. You can show your creativity and learning skills by recommending new dishes or asking the lead cook if you can garnish the dish using the different ingredients. Staying updated with food trends can help you understand customer preferences and prepare dishes accordingly to attract more guests.
Keep areas clean and organised. Use your organisation and cleanliness skills to increase efficiency while cooking and keep your work areas clean and organised. Being organised also helps you multitask while cooking, as you can find ingredients conveniently.
Ways To Highlight Your Skills
Here are some ways to highlight your skills during the job application process:
On a resume
On your resume, you can highlight your skills by including a specific section that lists your skills. You can also add the work experience section to show how you used your skills at previous jobs. Keep the skills list brief and include all skills relevant to the job and mentioned in the job description to increase the chances of recruiting managers to consider them and shortlist your resume for the job.
In a cover letter
You can emphasise some of your most relevant skills in your cover letter to distinguish yourself from other candidates. Prefer mentioning a few skills with some valid credentials and any accomplishment or recognition you have that relate to the position. Consider your cover letter as an opportunity to explain how you can use your skills in the new role to improve the cooking process and the kitchen environment.
In an interview
Demonstrate the applicable skills as possible throughout the interview. Review the job listing while you prepare for the interview to see what skills and keywords you can use to match your experience and skills. Then think of instances of your work and experience that relate to those skills and keywords that you can highlight in the interview. The interviewer may also ask questions related to the skills you mention in your resume and cover letter. Consider preparing effective responses to some common questions before your interview, which includes your experiences in your previous professional stints.
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