What is a Line Cook? How to Write a Line Cook Job Description (Template Included)

What is a Line Cook? How to Write a Line Cook Job Description (Template Included)

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What is a Line Cook?

A line cook is a chef who specializes in preparing and cooking food at a specific station within a restaurant kitchen. Working under the supervision of a head chef, sous chef or kitchen manager, line cooks are critical in ensuring that each dish is executed consistently to the restaurant’s standards and that orders are efficiently managed and served. Typically, a line cook is assigned to handle particular types of dishes or cooking processes, such as grilling, frying, or sautéing, contributing to the overall speed and smooth operation of the kitchen.

line cook preparing food

Line Cook Job Description

A line cook's job description encapsulates a range of duties that are critical to the successful operation of a restaurant kitchen. This section breaks down the specific tasks and skills associated with the line cook role.

What Do Line Cooks Do?

In their role, line cooks prepare ingredients, cook meals, and ensure that dishes are executed according to the restaurant’s specific recipes and presentation standards. Line cooks are responsible for much of the hands-on work in preparing meals in restaurants. They operate under the guidance of more senior chefs and are pivotal in maintaining the flow of the kitchen and the quality of the food served. 

Line Cook Responsibilities

The responsibilities of a line cook often include:

  • Prepping Ingredients: Washing, chopping, marinating, and seasoning ingredients before service.
  • Cooking and Assembling Dishes: Following precise recipes and presentation specifications to prepare and assemble dishes.
  • Maintaining Cleanliness: Keeping stations clean and organized, adhering to health and safety regulations.
  • Stock Management: Monitoring inventory levels and communicating needs to ensure all necessary ingredients are stocked.
  • Equipment Maintenance: Regularly inspecting and maintaining kitchen equipment to keep it in optimal working condition.
  • Collaboration and Communication: Coordinating with other kitchen staff to ensure efficient service and quality control.

Line Cook Required Skills

The skills required for a line cook to successfully fulfill their role include:

  • Culinary Expertise: Proficient knowledge of various cooking methods, ingredients, equipment, and procedures.
  • Time Management: The ability to efficiently juggle multiple tasks simultaneously during busy periods.
  • Attention to Detail: Meticulousness in following recipes and plating to ensure consistent quality.
  • Physical Stamina: Endurance to withstand long hours standing and moving in a high-stress environment.
  • Teamwork: Excellent interpersonal skills to collaborate effectively with kitchen and front-of-house staff.
  • Problem-Solving: Quick thinking to address and rectify any issues that arise with orders or kitchen operations.
line cook putting seasoning on plated food

Below you’ll find a template for a line cook job description to get you started.

Line Cook Job Description Template

Job Title: Line Cook

Reports To: Head Chef / Kitchen Manager

Job Overview: As a Line Cook at [Restaurant Name], you will be a crucial member of our kitchen team, responsible for producing high-quality dishes that align with our restaurant's culinary standards. Your role involves preparing ingredients, cooking meals, and ensuring each dish is executed with precision. Working under the supervision of our head chef, you will contribute to delivering an exceptional dining experience for our guests.

Responsibilities and Duties:

  • Prepare ingredients for cooking, including portioning, chopping, and storing food before use.
  • Cook menu items in cooperation with the rest of the kitchen staff, following recipes and plating guidelines.
  • Ensure that food comes out simultaneously, in high quality, and in a timely fashion.
  • Operate standard kitchen equipment safely and efficiently.
  • Maintain cleanliness and comply with food sanitation requirements by properly handling food and ensuring correct storage.
  • Clean and maintain stations while practicing good safety, sanitation, and organizational skills.
  • Assist with the cleaning, sanitation, and organization of the kitchen, walk-in coolers, and all storage areas.
  • Perform additional related duties as assigned.


  • Proven cooking experience, including experience as a line cook, restaurant cook, or prep cook.
  • Excellent understanding of various cooking methods, ingredients, equipment, and procedures.
  • Accuracy and speed in executing assigned tasks.
  • Familiar with industry’s best practices.
  • Culinary school diploma preferred but not required.
  • Physical stamina and availability to work long hours, including nights, weekends, and holidays.
  • Ability to lift up to 50 pounds frequently and work in a standing position for extended periods.


  • [specify schedule]
  • Must be available to work evenings, weekends, and holidays.


  • Salary: $/hour [specify range if applicable]
  • Tip Income: [if applicable]
  • Benefits: [if applicable, include things like health insurance, employee discounts, etc.]

Line Cook Salary

A line cook's salary is an essential aspect to consider whether you are entering the culinary field or planning to advance your career within it. Understanding what you can expect to earn helps in setting career goals and negotiating salaries. This section delves into the typical earnings for line cooks.

How Much Does a Line Cook Make?

The average salary for a line cook in the United States is $17.74 per hour. This figure serves as a general guideline but actual wages can vary significantly based on several factors including geographical location, experience, and the type of establishment.

Line cooks in major metropolitan areas or upscale dining settings might earn higher wages due to the increased demand and cost of living in these locations. On the other hand, entry-level positions in smaller towns might offer lower wages but could be accompanied by less competition and a slower-paced working environment.

line cook plating food

Line Cook FAQs

What is the Difference Between a Line Cook and a Regular Cook?

A line cook is specifically assigned to a certain station in the kitchen and is responsible for preparing dishes under the guidance of a head chef. A regular cook, or a cook in general, may refer to anyone in the kitchen who is involved in cooking, without the specific station-based focus that a line cook has.

What is the Difference Between a Line Cook and a Prep Cook?

The main difference lies in their responsibilities. A line cook prepares and cooks meals according to the restaurant’s menu during service hours, often under time pressure. A prep cook, on the other hand, handles preliminary food preparation before the restaurant opens, such as chopping vegetables, butchering meat, or preparing sauces.

What is the Difference Between Line Cook and Assistant Cook?

An assistant cook, often seen as a junior or apprentice position, assists in various kitchen duties under the supervision of more experienced staff like line cooks. The role of a line cook is more specialized and responsible for actively cooking and plating dishes during service.

What Does a Line Cook Need to Know?

A line cook needs to know cooking techniques, kitchen equipment, and food safety practices. They must also be familiar with the restaurant's menu and be capable of cooking and plating dishes according to the establishment’s standards under high-pressure environments.

How Long Does it Take to Learn to be a Line Cook?

The time it takes to become proficient as a line cook can vary. Typically, it takes a few months to a year of on-the-job training to learn specific station skills and responsibilities. Formal culinary education can also expedite this process, providing foundational skills and knowledge in less time.

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