Cooks (NOC 6322)

About this job

Cooks prepare, cook and present meals and specialty foods.

See what a day in the life of this job is like—watch WorkBC’s Career Trek video about this occupation.

Source: WorkBC’s Career Trek

People in this occupation:

  • may be responsible for overseeing staff, planning menus or managing kitchen activity
  • may work under the direction of dietitians or chefs
  • work in restaurants, hotels and resorts, hospitals, cruise ships, central food commissaries, educational institutions, catering companies and a wide range of other establishments
  • should be well organized and able to work under pressure
  • enjoy working with their hands and have an interest in preparing food
  • have strong communication and teamwork skills, since they must work within a team of kitchen staff

Apprentice cooks are included in this unit group.

Common job titles
  • cook, construction camp / ship
  • cook, diet kitchen / dietary
  • cook, hospitality
  • cook, journeyman / journeywoman
  • cook, licensed
  • cook, specialty - ethnic / kosher / halal
  • cook, construction camp / ship
  • cook, diet kitchen / dietary
  • cook, hospitality
  • cook, journeyman / journeywoman
  • cook, licensed
  • cook, specialty - ethnic / kosher / halal

Duties

Cooks perform some or all of the following duties:

  • prepare and cook complete meals or individual dishes and foods
  • prepare and cook special meals for patients as instructed by a dietician or chef
  • schedule and supervise kitchen helpers
  • oversee kitchen operations
  • maintain inventory and records of food, supplies and equipment
  • may set up and oversee buffets
  • may clean kitchen and work area
  • may plan menus, determine size of food portions, estimate food requirements and costs, and monitor and order supplies
  • may hire and train kitchen staff
  • may specialize in preparing and cooking ethnic cuisine or special dishes

Work environment

Working hours and conditions for cooks vary depending on the employer. Cooks are often required to work shifts that include early mornings, late evenings, weekends and holidays. Many employers, such as resorts, may only offer seasonal work.

Large restaurants and institutional kitchens typically have modern equipment and convenient work areas, while older, smaller establishments may have less comfortable work settings. Kitchens must be clean, well ventilated, appropriately lit and properly equipped with sprinkler systems to protect against fires.

Cooks must work in close quarters during busy periods. They must also be able to lift heavy objects, work near hot ovens and grills, and stand for extended periods of time.

Cooks usually work under time pressure, while making sure quality, safety and sanitation guidelines are followed. Job hazards include slipping and falling, cuts and minor burns.

Insights from industry

Projected increases in population in B.C. may create a higher demand for restaurant and take-out food, which will increase employment opportunities for cooks throughout the province. The growth of two-income families with higher incomes and less time to prepare meals will also likely lead to more people dining out.

The expanding market for good-value and high-quality dining experiences will create demand for a wider range of skills for cooks. Cooks who specialize in preparing ethnic cuisine or special dishes may have an advantage over others looking for work.

Career paths and resources

Career paths

Mobility exists among the various types of cooks in this group. Progression to supervisory or more senior positions, such as chef, is possible with experience and training. With extensive experience, some cooks may also choose to open their own restaurants.

Additional resources