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Line Cook Job Profile: Become a Culinary Specialist

Job Profile

As a line cook, you'll work under a sous chef and specialize in a culinary component such as sauces, fish, roasting, grilling, frying, butchering, vegetables and side dishes, salads and appetizers, or pastry. Your job will be to prepare your specialty and arrange it attractively on the plate before it's served.

Culinary Arts

Line Cooks: A Day in the Life

Line cooks are on their feet at all times and work long hours, which may include weekends and holidays. Service periods, when large seatings of diners are ordering food, are especially hectic. However, one of the best aspects of working as a line cook is that you become the resident expert on your specialty. A good restaurant kitchen is like an efficient machine with no superfluous parts. Effective, efficient, knowledgeable line cooks are critical to the kitchen's operation. Line cooks are members of a tightly knit team and also experts in their specialty.

Most restaurants don't require line cooks to attend culinary school. Many cooks start out in entry-level jobs as waiters or dish washers and then gradually advance to line cook. Much of your training will take place on the job, and you may move from specialty to specialty. For instance, once you master fish preparation, you may learn the various ways to prepare beef or sauces.

Line Cook Culinary Training Requirements

Working as a line cook is a great step toward becoming a sous chef or executive chef. If your career dream is to advance to those jobs, you may want to consider culinary school. In a short training program lasting just a few months, you can learn about nutrition, food sanitation, and entry-level food preparation methods. If you decide to earn a two-year or four-year culinary degree, you'll take additional hands-on training courses in more complex cooking, banquets, catering, unique and popular foods around the world, purchasing, and accounting. Most two-year and four-year programs will require you to do an internship and will also help you find one.

Salary Information for Line Cooks

Your salary will depend on many factors, including the location and type of restaurant and your level of training and expertise. According to the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics, in May 2007 the median salary of restaurant cooks was $21,960. The lowest 10 percent earned $15,120, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $30,000. To earn a bigger salary, you may want to take steps to become a sous chef or executive chef.

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            5 Program(s) Found
            • Alumni have appeared in reality competition shows such as Top Chef and Project Runway.
            • Has a team of about 4,000 faculty members focused on helping students tap opportunities in a marketplace driven by ideas.
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            • Provides program coordinators who work with students to ensure they have the learning materials, assignments, facilities, and faculty to get the most out of the program.
            • Over 50 campus locations nationwide.
            Good for Working Adults
            • Flexible Scheduling
            • Financial Aid
            • Transferable Credits
            5 Program(s) Found
            • Hands-on culinary education with focused attention on each student
            • An ACCSC School of Excellence with multiple “Best Vocational Cooking School” awards*
            • 15,000 graduates, including celebrities like Bobby Flay, David Chang, and Christina Tosi*
            • Programs in Culinary Entrepreneurship, Professional Culinary Arts, Professional Pastry Arts, and much more
            • Campuses in New York and Silicon Valley with nearby housing available
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            • Received the 2015 and 2013 “Cooking School of the Year” Award of Excellence from the International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP).
            • Accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC).
            • Externship opportunities are available at numerous famous New York City restaurants.
            • Campus is located near downtown Manhattan, within walking distance of many popular attractions such as the Radio City Music Hall.
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            Good for Working Adults
            • Flexible Scheduling
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            • Culinary Arts program includes the 3-week Farm To Table® Experience, where students gain a direct, in-depth look at where food comes from.
            • Numerous scholarship opportunities and financial aid are available to students who qualify.
            • Accreditation from the Accrediting Council for Continuing Education and Training (ACCET), and the Council on Occupational Education (COE).
            • 2 campuses located in Boulder, Colorado and Austin, Texas.
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            Good for Working Adults
            • Flexible Scheduling
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            2 Program(s) Found
            • Ranked among the Best Colleges in the South in 2015 by U.S. News and World Report.
            • Ranked the 13th  Best College for Veterans in 2015 by U.S. News and World Report.
            • A private institution founded in 1977 with a current total undergraduate enrollment of over 15,00.
            • Its student-faculty ratio is 12:1, and 89.3% of classes have fewer than 20 students.
            • Has students attend one class at a time to ensure easy access to faculty and a more hands-on education.
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            L'Ecole Culinaire , Kansas City
            • Offers educational opportunities for the aspiring, career-minded chef.
            • Students are trained by professional chefs and spend the majority of their final term working in the campus restaurant to learn all phases of the culinary industry.
            • St. Louis campus offers new Food Truck Entrepreneurship courses.
            • Has a student-run food truck that tours around St. Louis.
            • All campuses have a public restaurant where food is prepared and served by students.
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            Good for Working Adults
            • Flexible Scheduling
            • Financial Aid
            • Transferable Credits
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            • Has been training students in the culinary arts since 1946.
            • Teaches hands-on culinary training in French, Asian, Mediterranean, Latin and American cooking, along with professional baking and pastry techniques.
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            • Offers an Italian Culinary Arts program where students get to externship in Italy.
            • Its instructors are respected chefs who put their dedication and life experiences into their instruction.
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            Good for Working Adults
            • Accredited
            • Flexible Scheduling
            • Financial Aid
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