Training, Jobs and Salary for Line Cooks

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Most professional kitchens are outfitted with a corps of chefs, cooks and kitchen assistants. The station chefs or line cooks are each responsible for one particular kitchen station, such as sauces, grill, or fryer. In a formal brigade kitchen—a hierarchical system of chefs and cooks borrowed from the French tradition-- these chefs de partie work in concert and under the direction of the sous chef(s) and executive chef, or chef de cuisine.

Types of Station Chefs and Line Cooks

Depending upon the type of restaurant or professional culinary facility in which you will work you could be one of many station chefs. Examples of typical chef stations include:

  • Saucier, sauce chef
  • Grill chef
  • Saute chef
  • Roast chef
  • Fry Chef
  • Garde Manger or pantry chef
  • Fish and seafood chef

Job Descriptions for Station Chefs and Line Cooks

Station chefs comprise a large population of entry- to mid-level professional chefs and cooks each with a varying degree of expertise and education. In general job descriptions and duties for line cooks with a couple years experience include:

  • Responsible for reporting to Executive chef and/or sous chef(s).
  • Ability to work in a team-oriented environment and under demanding conditions.
  • Experienced with his or her station.
  • May be expected to fill in for another station chef in his or her absence.
  • May be expected to help train or offer direction to apprentice or extern chefs.
  • Assist with creation of new dishes or innovative methods.
  • Responsible for station food hygiene and sanitation.
  • Career motivation, excellent communication skills and commitment to quality work.

Culinary Education for Line Cook

Culinary arts schools specialize in training station chefs and line cooks. Why? Most cooking schools that teach professional student chefs put you to work and study in student-run kitchens and hotels. Here you work in real restaurants alongside real chefs and receive on the spot training and education. This type of education gives you a big advantage over peers without formal education.

Serious about becoming a well-paid station chef? Look for a culinary school that provides you with a variety of learning options, including student restaurants that serve the dining public. Also, explore the faculty and their skills and resumes—they are, after all, who will learn from.

Line Cook Salary

Entry-level positions as line cook and station chefs are just one stop on the culinary ladder. Salaries can differ widely based on:

  • Type of kitchen/restaurant
  • Required duties
  • Your education
  • Your job experience
  • Region and metro area

Employers seek station chefs that have a clear career plan and are motivated to seek promotions and stand out from the sea of so-so chefs. This is how you earn bigger and better salaries. Also, look for jobs with employers that offer benefits packages, such as health insurance and 401(k) plans. All of these add up.

In general salaries for line cooks average between: $15,000 and $30,000.*

Career Opportunities for Station Chefs

As a fresh grad from culinary arts school it’s likely that your first job may be as a station chef or line cook. The various station duties will form a significant part of your educational training. So think of the job of station chef or line cook as entry- or mid-level with plenty of room to grow.


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