A well-crafted line cook job description attracts top talent and keeps your kitchen team working efficiently. Use our expert-written template to perfect your line cook job description.
A line cook job description will vary by the kitchen station you need the line cook to work. It should also include the general tasks that you expect all cooks to perform, like stocking and cleaning their station, completing assigned prep work, following food safety guidelines, and maintaining a safe work environment. Your line cook job description should show your restaurant’s personality while setting clear expectations.
I spent more than a decade managing restaurants and have written countless line cook job descriptions. I’ve used that experience to create this line cook job description template. You can download the template as a Word or Google document and tailor it to your restaurant.
Free Line Cook Job Description Template
How to Write Line Cook Job Descriptions
There are some common points that all line cook job descriptions should hit, regardless of your restaurant style. A strong job description of a line cook should:
- Give a brief overview of your restaurant.
- Clearly outline the daily tasks the cook will perform.
- List minimum professional requirements for the job.
- Describe where this position fits within the overall restaurant operation.
- Summarize company benefits.
- Communicate the next steps to apply.
Let’s look at each step in detail.
If you’re looking for a more general guide, check out our article on how to write a job description.
Step 1: Write an Enticing Overview
Your restaurant overview section is a few sentences that describe your style of service, cuisine, and brand identity. This is a good place to list the short version of your restaurant’s vision (if you have one), mention any awards your restaurant has won, or showcase the mentorship possibilities that your chefs offer. Basically, answer the question: Why would a line cook want to work here?
Here’s an example:
FSB Bistro is a Filipino-inspired neighborhood restaurant with a California sensibility that fosters a welcoming atmosphere with comforting food. FSB Bistro serves market-driven dishes packed with local, seasonal ingredients and featuring classic flavors from the Philippines. Our chef was recently nominated for a James Beard Award, and we have been named one of the 20 Best Restaurants by LA Monthly.
We are passionate about showing respect for our team, our product, our vendors, our guests, and the history and culture surrounding the dishes we serve. Our mission is to support our community and our staff through serving food we love.
Step 2: Delve Into Specific Duties
This is the meat of the job description. If your kitchen has multiple stations, your job description should clarify what specific station this line cook will work. Will this cook handle all the fried items on the menu, all the grilled items, or all the cold things, like salads and desserts?
It’s common to see something like this:
In our kitchen, your line cook duties will include:
- Managing the grill station daily, through setup, service, and breakdown.
- Documenting food waste and holding temperatures.
- Following recipes for signature dishes and presenting impeccably finished plates.
- Collaborating with our kitchen team to create and execute a daily Farmers Market menu.
- Assisting with weekly inventory counts.
- Following all food safety guidelines.
- Nightly cleaning duties.
Being descriptive here about the responsibilities of a line cook you expect helps your listing appeal to applicants with a similar approach to food and line cook work.
Step 3: Spotlight Required Skills
Your line cook job description should be clear about the skills you require. Quick service restaurants that sell hundreds of breakfast orders need a seasoned cook with experience cooking eggs in multiple styles. A casual place looking for a pantry cook to plate salads and slices of cake could train a recent culinary school graduate. Think about what experience your ideal candidate will have and put that in the job description.
Here’s an example:
Key qualifications for this position include:
- Minimum one year working in a professional kitchen
- Excellent knife skills
- Current food handler’s certification
- Able to work nights, weekends, and holidays
- Able to safely lift up to 50 pounds
- Fluent in English (some understanding of Filipino is a bonus)
If you know that your kitchen needs extra hands for dinner services Tuesday through Saturday, as well as every major holiday, let applicants know upfront. This will avoid scheduling headaches.
Step 4: Describe the Vibe
An effective line cook job description then includes a brief description of what the position will be like for your new hire. Being transparent here helps you avoid applicants who won’t thrive in your kitchen. This is especially important for early career line cooks who might not have experience in different kitchens.
Here’s an example:
Our kitchen is a high-energy atmosphere, especially during weekend brunch and date night dinners. Weekends, holidays, and some late shifts are typical, but we try to keep the workspace fun and collaborative, even when we’re busy.
This is also a great place to illustrate some intangible bonuses of working in your kitchen. Things like the ability to learn a new or trending cuisine, work with cutting-edge equipment, or work alongside a well-known chef are all compelling to line cook applicants.
Step 5: Highlight Perks & Benefits
Your summary of benefits can be as simple as listing the job’s salary range and health benefits. But savvy restaurant owners compete for the best talent by promoting their positive work environment, mentioning comprehensive training programs, and offering health insurance and perks like family meals and dining discounts.
Here’s what that looks like:
- Competitive pay
- Medical, dental, and vision insurance
- Flexible scheduling
- Mentorship and training opportunities
- Tuition reimbursement
- 50% dining discount
- Pet insurance
The US Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that the occupation of restaurant cooks will grow by 16% from 2021 to 2031 as the industry recovers from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. This is a much faster average growth rate than the general job market, which means that competition for strong line cook applicants will be fierce. So offer as many perks as you can to stay competitive.
Step 6: Communicate Next Steps
If you are using your line cook job description to attract job applicants, make sure you include the steps for applying. Do you want applicants to come to the restaurant in person? Do you prefer to see their resumes first? Should applicants respond directly to the job post or email you instead?
Here’s an example:
If our line cook position sounds like a fit, we’d love to hear from you. Email your resume and a brief introduction to [your email address]. Let’s start a culinary journey together!
If you receive a high number of applicants, applicant tracking software can help you filter the results so you can focus on the most relevant candidates. These tools saved me hours when hiring restaurant teams in major markets like Los Angeles.
Tips for Writing a Line Cook Job Description
Restaurant kitchens and restaurant cooks have a unique language. And while every kitchen is different and every team has its own dynamic, there are some common values that nearly all line cooks I know share. If you are not a cook, or are new to restaurants and trying to write a line cook job description that will appeal to line cooks, there are some things you should know.
Know the Line
The line refers to the cooking line in your restaurant kitchen and the order of its cooking stations. The most entry-level part of the line is the cold station, sometimes called the pantry or garde manger. This station has the least amount of actual cooking involved, as most of the plates are salads or cold desserts.
Depending on your restaurant style, you might then have these additional line positions:
- Vegetable cook (entremetier): Responsible for soups, vegetables, and starches like potatoes and pastas.
- Fry cook (friturier): Focused on fried items, either frying in pots on a range or using deep fryers.
- Grill cook (grillardin): Responsible for all grilled items like steaks, burgers, and other proteins, usually working from a large grill.
- Fish cook (poissonier): In restaurants that serve a lot of seafood, you may have a line cook that focuses specifically on fish.
- Roast cook (rotissuer): Responsible for roasted proteins, braises, and oven-cooked items.
- Sauce / Sauté (saucier): This is considered the most complex station; it combines sauteed proteins and finishing sauces. In many kitchens, the saucier station is staffed by the sous chef or head chef.
Line cooks work on the line, and most of them plan to work their way up the line, from less complex stations to more complex stations. The classic trajectory starts at garde manger and ends at saucier. It is important to know this when you are hiring for a line cook position, since a cook who has worked for years as a grill cook or saucier will likely not be interested in working your salad station (unless your kitchen is run by a famous chef they want to work with).
Some kitchens also have a pastry chef. But pastry chefs tend to work in their own department, frequently with their own prep cooks and—in large restaurants—their own line cooks. It is not common for most line cooks to rotate through pastry as part of “the line.” A pantry cook may plate prepared desserts when the pastry chef is not available, but that’s the only crossover.
You’ll run into two major personality types in the line cook position. The most common are recent culinary school graduates who are working their way up the line. These line cooks tend to be eager to learn new skills and show off skills they already know. Early career line cooks tend to respond well to training that allows them to advance to more complex stations or to learn from a respected chef. If there is no mobility in your kitchen, though, you can expect to lose an early-career line cook within two to three years.
The other common line cook type is older cooks who specialize in a specific station (like grill or sauté) and are not interested in the people management and administrative work that comes with moving up to sous chef or kitchen manager positions. These seasoned cooks typically respond well to set schedules, clearly communicated expectations, and respect for their accumulated skills. These line cooks are long-term hires; I know several who have stayed in a single restaurant for 10 or more years.
If you’re a fan of the Disney film Ratatouille (and what restaurant person isn’t?), the sole female cook in the film, Colette, is a line cook (technically the rotisseur), as is the older Larousse (who works garde manger). They are good examples of the two major line cook personalities; Colette likes to show what she knows and learn from others (even a rat), while Larousse is happy working garde manger the same hours every day.
Don’t Bore Them
Most line cooks work in kitchens because they like to be moving on their feet. Line cooks want to be busy. When the ticket printer is rattling through the kitchen, they want to cook dozens of dishes and get into a hyper-focused cooking mode.
So make sure you have enough work for the line cooks you hire, whether it comes from in-house customers, online orders, or catering and special events. A slow kitchen is the worst thing for most of the line cooks I know. Though according to kitchen lore, bored line cooks have invented everything from kale salad to the club sandwich. So if your kitchen is slow, keep some cold cuts on hand.
Did you know?
Cooks are a tight-knit community. Maintain positive relationships with your former employees so you can reach out to them for referrals. On the flip side, however, if you are experiencing high turnover because of a negative work environment, word can quickly spread that your restaurant is a place cooks should avoid.
Line Cook Job Description Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
All line cooks should have knife skills, including knowledge of classic cutting techniques and knife maintenance. They should also have food preparation skills (like trussing roasted meats and cleaning shellfish), knowledge of various cooking methods (sauteing, frying, grilling, roasting), and a solid understanding of food safety (like the proper holding temperatures for various proteins and how to avoid cross-contamination and foodborne illness).
A line cook needs to be able to follow a recipe and work on their feet for 10 to 12 hours a day and be able to lift 25 to 50 pounds. Knowing how to clean various types of kitchen equipment is also a great line cook skill, as cleaning the kitchen is a common end-of-day task for line cooks.
Line cooks need restaurant experience. A culinary degree is nice to have, but it is not necessary to work as a line cook. The restaurant kitchen is a place where a person can learn most of everything that they need through on-the-job training. Many chefs, in fact, prefer to train line cooks themselves. A line cook that already knows the five mother sauces is nice, but a cook who is eager to learn, learns quickly, and shows up on time is priceless.
Line cooks prepare food on a specific workstation in a restaurant kitchen. The various cook stations in a restaurant kitchen are called—in the industry—“the line.” So a line cook is a cook who works on “the line,” as opposed to prep cooks who focus on off-line preparation. Line cooks are typically responsible for ensuring that their station is stocked with all the necessary ingredients to cook their assigned dishes before service begins.
They may be required to prepare items like sauces and garnishes themselves or coordinate with prep cooks to stock their station. During service, line cooks cook all the dishes that are ordered from their station. They are frequently identified by the station where they work. So the line cook responsible for all grilled items is the “grill cook,” and that cook would jump into action every time a steak or grilled item is ordered. At the end of a service, line cooks clean their stations. Throughout their shift, line cooks ensure that all food safety standards are followed.
A stage (rhymes with “dodge”) is an opportunity to appear as a guest cook in a restaurant kitchen. In a typical stage, a cook who wants to gain experience will ask to work for free for a range of time, from a single service to a couple of weeks, so they can learn from more senior chefs as well as show their skills to a chef they hope to work with. Some restaurants also use stages as a working interview. Stages are popular in Europe but can be legally tricky in the US.
Restaurant owners allowing stages should be sure that staging cooks are covered by workers’ comp or general liability policies. Federal labor laws also ban working for free, so you need to create clear lines for stages that honor labor laws and offer some form of compensation.
Line cooks are the backbone of any restaurant kitchen. To entice the strongest cooks to join your team, you need a line cook job description that showcases your restaurant’s best qualities, clearly communicates specific duties, and highlights job perks. Knowing what motivates different types of line cooks can help you attract and retain the best cooks.