What Does A Line Cook Do?
Contrary to popular belief, cooking isn’t the only thing that cooks do. This is especially true of line cooks who are responsible for many other aspects of running a kitchen in a busy restaurant. Under the supervision of sous chefs and indirectly, head chefs, line cooks are the ones responsible for doing the nitty-gritty work of preparing the ingredients and assembling them to make the actual recipe following the standards set forth by the establishment.
Line cooks are usually assigned to their respective stations in a commercial kitchen. For example, they may be responsible for chopping the vegetables and fruits in the salads section or deboning the fish in the fish or seafood section. Those who are assigned in the pasta station are responsible for preparing fresh pasta and/or pre-cooking it so that it is ready for the recipes that customers will order later on. Each station is equipped not only with the tools of the trade like pots, pans and knives but with the various condiments and other ingredients necessary to prepare the food. All the preparatory work is done before customers start pouring in droves either at lunch or dinner time.
When customers start placing their orders, line cooks are then responsible for cooking the ingredients in their station to get the recipe ready. They must see to it that they follow the restaurant’s standards in terms of the size of the slices and the plating before serving the food to the customer. They should also work quickly so that customers aren’t kept waiting for a long time for their order. In large eating places, line cooks often have assistants who help them with their chores. However, they are responsible for the errors of their assistants and have to answer to the sous chef or head chef in the event of a customer complaint.
Line cooks must be very versatile when it comes to their culinary skills because they can be asked to prepare food in many different ways. They may need to grill or fry pork or chicken meat, fish or vegetables or steam, roast or boil them. They also need to be very particular with measurements since they have to weigh and apportion the ingredients following the recipe. They must also have creative flair since they will be garnishing and plating the food.
In addition to cooking, maintaining a clean work area and following sanitation standards in food preparation are also part and parcel of the responsibilities of line cooks. Before starting their work, they must clean their stations and see to it that everything they need is in its proper place. They themselves should also be neat and tidy. It’s also essential that they check the ingredients before cooking them to ensure that they are fresh. They must wash their hands frequently while preparing food so that customers are assured that what they are eating is not only delicious but hygienic. After their shift is over, they should also see to it that their station is clean.