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What Are Typical Job Duties of a Restaurant Cook?

Restaurant cooks do more than just prepare your meals. Although the job varies slightly depending on the restaurant and the restaurant style, restaurant cooks may also be responsible for cleaning- and service-related duties.

Job Description Overview

Restaurant cooks are responsible for many of the daily tasks in a restaurant. Maintaining the cleanliness of the restaurant, particularly the cooking area, is a major responsibility of restaurant cooks everywhere. They must ensure the work area is safe and that no one is working with a burn or cut, as these can lead to a food-borne illness. Clean up during and at the end of a shift is also the responsibility of the restaurant cook.

Important Facts About Restaurant Cooks

Median Salary (2018) $25,200
Required Education Some earn a culinary degree
Job Outlook (2016-2026) 6%
On-the-job Training Many cooks receive on-the-job training as their education source

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics


Depending on the size of the restaurant, restaurant cooks may do all the food preparation themselves or, in larger restaurants, they may have help. A restaurant cook may be responsible for some or all of the following duties:

  • Cutting or peeling fruits and vegetables
  • Boiling water for rice or pasta
  • Making sure food on the menu is available
  • Baking desserts or breads as needed
  • Seasoning food
  • Making special dishes for customers with food allergies
  • Developing new recipes
  • Cooking the food as ordered


Restaurant cooks make the meal the customer requested and verify the order to make sure all of the items the customer wanted are present. Many cooks are adept at presenting food so that it looks appetizing. They get meals to customers in a timely manner so they are hot or cold as needed. Some cooks train new employees and order food or other supplies when the restaurant runs low. They have to be familiar with the restaurant's menu so they know what makes up the different meals and how each is prepared.

Employment and Salary

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported in May 2018 that the top 10% of cooks took home salaries of $37,630 or more. Those working for travel arrangement and reservation services earned the most money in 2018, averaging $35,930 a year, per the BLS.