Cooking is both a science and an art. Being a cook means you’re involved in the preparation of delicious food under the direction of a chef.. Cooks are the core of a restaurant, playing a significant role in making the kitchen function properly. What’s more, with the expansion of the food and restaurant industry, employment opportunities are increasing. If you aspire to become a cook, check out the following guide of resume writing tips, examples and job details.
Let's start with looking at the three main formats for a cook resume:
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Job duties of a cook
Cooks are responsible for carrying out the chef’s culinary inventions and ensuring the kitchen is running efficiently They have a critical role in ensuring customers are satisfied with their meal and wait time. They are also accountable for pre-and post-cooking processes, such as prepping ingredients and cleaning.
Specific duties may include:
Cleaning the food preparation areas according to the law and company policy.
Choosing, weighing, mixing, and preparing ingredients and spices for recipes.
Monitoring and checking the cooking preparations such as cutting, chopping, steaming, grilling, boiling and baking vegetables, fish, meat and other ingredients.
Preparing dishes based on the chef’s recipe and making adjustments to it based on guest’s requests.
Garnishing the food in a beautiful and appetizing way.
Coordinating with servers to serve food at the right temperature.
Managing the team in the kitchen.
Keeping an eye on inventory and ordering ingredients.
Cleaning the kitchen.
Cook median salaries
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary of a cook is $27,250 as of May 2020. Employment opportunities are also projected to grow by 26% in the next decade. Individual career-growth rates, however, vastly depend on specific skills and specialties.
Top skills for cooks
Let’s take a look at some of the skills a cook must possess.
- Willingness to learn: Being a cook is a hands-on learning experience. Practice makes perfect, so you must master flavors and techniques and experiment with different foods. You must be open to learning and practicing constantly.
- Attention to detail: When you work in a kitchen, you need to be detail-oriented. Apart from following recipes, using the correct measurements, and cooking the right portions, cooks must prepare and present food in a uniform and appealing way.
- Cleanliness: This is one of the essential aspects of food preparation. A kitchen must uphold strict sanitation protocols to comply with federal regulations.
- A genuine passion for cooking: Cooks should love being in the kitchen, experimenting, and being creative with food and new recipes. This is what keeps the menu exciting. A cook’s life is demanding, so they must love their job to stay in it for the long run.
- Teamwork: Working with a team requires excellent communication skills. In a kitchen, every person has a role to play, so you must all work together to successfully deliver delicious food on time. Cooks are also expected to collaborate and give constant feedback to their peers.
- Culinary expertise: From knife skills to baking, you must be familiar with cooking techniques. Cooks must also be practical and precise when preparing food, including portion sizing, heat control, and quality.
- Organizational skills: A good cook must maintain a clean and organized kitchen to ensure safety within the team and with food management. This skill is also essential to keep the production line running smoothly and efficiently, thus avoiding any delays and errors that lead to unhappy customers.
- Problem-solving skills: Because a kitchen is fast-paced, it can become stressful during peak hours, which is why a cook must remain calm and make quick decisions.
Education and certifications for cooks
Much like a chef, a cook knows the basic skills and knowledge required for making delicious food. Formal education beyond a high school diploma may not be necessary, but some employers prefer education, especially from a culinary school. Why? Because in culinary school students are taught how to read a recipe, use specific techniques for preparing and serving food, knife skills, handling, and specific vocabulary used in kitchens. You can earn an associate, a bachelor’s, or a master’s degree from culinary schools. Also, apart from a program in a culinary school, cooks can advance their knowledge and skills through specific courses and certifications.
DegreeYou can find various associate and bachelor’s degree options at The Culinary Institute of America. Another option is the Institute of Culinary Education which has campuses in New York City and Los Angeles, California. The Institute of Culinary Education carries diplomas in Culinary Arts, Pastry and Baking Arts, Hotel and Restaurant Management, and Hospitality Management.
The Northwest Culinary Institute, Ohio State University, The Culinary Institute of America, Glendale Community College and Hudson County Community College offer many bachelor's and associate degree programs that will benefit your career as a cook.
The Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts also offers online diploma and degree programs with professional chef instructors. You can be part of a live classroom where you will learn and fine-tune your techniques and knowledge.
CertificationsYou can choose to advance your career as a cook and work toward becoming a chef by learning new skills. There are many certifications and training programs available, and you can pick the one that will enhance your skill set. For example, you can choose to work toward becoming a Certified Fundamentals Cook or a Certified Culinarian.
Member associations: The American Culinary Federation (ACF) offers 15 certification levels to help cooks become even more valuable in their jobs. This certification program is recognized in the industry as the standard of excellence in skills and knowledge. As a cook, you can choose to add skills as a Certified Fundamentals Pastry Cook or a Certified Pastry Culinarian.
Universities and colleges: Many postsecondary institutions offer certificate programs, which are shorter courses of study that target specific skills. Coastal Alabama Community College, Los Angeles Trade-Tech and Pikes Peak Community College are all examples of schools that offer certificate programs in Culinary Arts.
Online education: As for online credentials, the American Culinary Federation launched its Online Learning Center with multiple opportunities for cooks and chefs to advance their careers and even maintain their ACF certification.
Cook resume-writing tips
Writing a good resume is like cooking a full course meal. It needs a perfect blend of flavors, ingredients, and garnishing, except that you’re working with skills, experience and the correct layout. To write a resume that can impress recruiters, you should make sure to include the following:
- Capture the recruiter’s attention: Recruiters go through many applications a day, so they usually take no more than a few seconds to skim your resume. This is why it’s crucial that you capture their attention from the get go. How can you do this? By writing an outstanding professional summary or objective statement and selecting the best resume format for your qualifications. The summary section needs to capture why you’re a fit for the role in two to three sentences, while the best resume format displays your top qualifications first to help you stand out.
- Tailor your resume to the position: Every company has a different set of requirements for the candidates they want, even if the job title is the same across businesses. This is why writing a generic cook resume to apply to multiple job openings usually leads to getting passed up for the position. However, by tailoring your skills and experience to match the specific needs of the vacancy, you’re more likely to be called for an interview. Read the job listing well and make sure to include the keywords they used in the job description. For cook jobs, it’s probable that you’ll come across skills like “safe food handling,” “plating and presentation” and “knife skills.” Regardless of which skills and tasks you find in the listing, make sure you add all the ones you have so you speak directly to your fit for that precise opening. If the job you’re applying for doesn’t have a detailed listing, however, you can always use our Resume Builder to find detailed suggestions of skills and responsibilities usually included in cook resumes.
- Add quantifiable metrics: Another common error job seekers make when writing about their daily tasks and achievements is that they write general information. For example, saying that you “prepared multiple dishes'' isn't as good as saying “prepared five different Italian cuisine dishes between 20-30 times per shift.'' The same goes for any achievements you’ve had.
- Include achievements: Whether you’re aware of it or not, we’ve all contributed to our employers in one way or another. Sometimes it’s something big, like proposing a new menu item that turned into a customer favorite. Other times it’s something as simple as always leaving your work area spotless. When writing your resume, think back to what you were good at, what came easily to you and what you succeeded at for each job you’ve had. If you saved your employer money, time, or resources make sure you say exactly how many or how much. Add at least one of these achievements per position and remember to use quantifiable metrics when doing so.
Can a cook be an expert in multiple cuisines?
Having basic knowledge of most cuisines is the minimum expectation for cooks. However, being an expert in multiple cuisines can make you a more desirable candidate for some positions. For people starting out in their careers, it’s recommended that you get good at one type of cuisine before moving on to another.
Can a cook become a chef?
Yes. A cook starts their career with or without training and works their way up to different positions in the kitchen, one of which can be a chef. To become a chef, you must complete educational training in culinary arts and have many years of experience. It’s also beneficial to get some training or certifications in leadership or management since the role of a chef (starting at the sous chef level) involves administrative and managerial responsibilities on top of being a seasoned cook in the kitchen.