A job in a restaurant or a kitchen setting often comes with great sacrifices, long hours of hard work and serious preparation for the next stage in the career. It is true that most professional chefs started their career as prep cooks. It may not be your dream job, but it offers the best experience and adequate training necessary to pursue a career in the hospitality industry.
A prep cook is an individual who assists the chef in preparing the food, maintaining the food environment to ensure that it is clean and safe for the staff and customers. The job is not easy since it requires a lot of physical endurance, as well as mental determination. The working schedule can be hectic requiring you to work in various shifts, nights, and during the holidays. Usually, prep cooks work during a day shift but occasionally you will find businesses who are in need of night shift personnel. Although you can receive on the job training it is important to undertake some basic training courses in culinary if you find interest in the field.
Prep cooks work under the command of a more senior member of the kitchen staff. Due to this, it is very important for prep cooks to always accept positive criticism even when they have been put under a lot of pressure, it is often the case in a big kitchen environment. A kitchen can be a high-pressure work environment so prep cooks should have thick skin to accommodate inevitable complaints from customers and criticism from senior chefs. Understand that this position is open to mistakes but no one has learned how to do something correctly without experiencing pitfalls, so it is a great opportunity to grow and acquire skills.
To become a Prep Cook, you usually only need a basic education (high school diploma) because the job is entry level and doesn’t require any special training. In fact, many of these cooks start culinary school only after getting employment in a hotel and eventually climbing the career ladder. Since culinary art courses are available, you should consider them especially if you are willing to pursue and are interested in a career in the industry. Home economics also has a section devoted to cooking from which students can gain a lot of insight.
The prep cook’s work schedule is set by the hour when the kitchen is opened. If you want to be a good candidate for the job you must be prepared to work the shifts required by the employer. These include holidays, weekends and nights. You may also be required to wake up early so that you can meet with the suppliers. Usually, a prep cook is the first person to enter the kitchen.
Duties and responsibilities of these cooks
The role of this cook is to help in food preparation by putting together entrees, chopping vegetables and making salads among many more. Although this does not provide you with any cooking opportunity, it offers you the ideal chance to develop other skills essential to becoming a chef. These include being able to use kitchen appliances, including vegetable grinders and chopping knives. In addition to small food preparation duties, a prep cook is also responsible for performing a number of smaller tasks. Occasionally, you will use shaving dishes to cook a roast or something similar in an oven depending on how the kitchen you are working in handles its menu.
The prep cook job is an entry level job and requires hard work but is the gateway to any career in culinary. This is a task that most chef’s have under their belt so if you are passionate about food and cooking and want to make your mark in the industry as a chef then possessing the experience of a prep cook is socially-required in a kitchen setting.