6 Chefs That Your Restaurant Needs
Line cooks: The unseen heroes of foodservice. No restaurant could run effectively without them, but they’re sequestered in the back of the house where it’s easy to forget their vitality, especially when so much effort gets poured into providing superior, face-to-face customer service upfront. When you’re getting ready to hire your back-of-house staff, it’s essential to recognize the different line cook types you might need.
There are six basic line cook positions to consider hiring somebody to fill, depending on your menu’s specific needs. The better you understand what each position does and the differences between them, the more effectively you can narrow down candidates and make sure your restaurant is appropriately staffed for maximum success.
Types of Line Cooks
Before we break it down into distinctive categories, what is a line cook, anyway? This position refers to a chef who’s equipped to handle all areas of the kitchen. They tend to work independently but have short turn times, often moving stations each day; thus, they need to be trained on all the machinery and know-how to make every dish on the menu. This versatility makes them fiercely capable employees.
Typically, line cooks get ranked by experience; often, higher-ranking employees are more experienced or have been at the job longest. They sometimes serve as shift supervisors for the other line cooks. This ensures accountability and continued hard work even when there are no manager on-premises. However, some line cooks are designated specific positions if they have specialized skill sets that make them excel at a particular station in the kitchen.
Short-order cooks are typically associated with old fashioned diners and work off simple menus to become experts at the few dishes that are offered, churning out meals faster. This line cook is common in QSRs and fast-casual establishments that operate off the same need for quick turns.
Prep cooks are relatively self-explanatory: They come in before service starts and take care of all the tasks that need doing, so the line cooks on shift when customers can complete their jobs without any unforeseen hold-ups. Prep cooks can chop ingredients, defrost meat, prepare stock and sauces, and handle similar tasks that make other line cooks’ jobs easier when they’re contending with customers in real-time on top of their usual duties.
Fry cooks are short-order cooks that primarily operate the deep fryer and grill, although sometimes restaurants hire a separate “grill cook” to split those responsibilities. Although fry cooks are typically found in QSRs (which is why you’re picturing Spongebob), they might also appear in diners, fast-casual, or casual full-service restaurants.
Sauté cooks handle everything that gets sautéed on the menu. Straightforward, right? Depending on what you serve, the sauté cook might also double as a “saucier.” Essentially, this is the line cook whose station handles the sauces, stews, stocks, and gravies.
Salad cooks might also be called the “appetizer cook.” They’re in charge of making and plating salads and vegetable sides, although they might also handle other sides and hot appetizers, hence the alternate nomenclature.
Hire the Right Fit
How can you be sure that you’re acquiring the best talent possible for your commercial kitchen? How do you weed out which line cooks to hire and which station they’ll excel at most effectively?
To be sure you’re choosing the right fit, weed out exceptional candidates with better job postings that emphasize the skills you’re looking for, accurately depict your expectations and the role’s responsibilities. Decide what characteristics are essential to you in a candidate: Would you instead hire someone with the right attitude who needs much training? Do you need somebody with much experience who can jump right into the position that you currently lack? Wherever your priorities lie, create a vacancy ad that’s clear, detailed, and honest. Be upfront about your needs and expectations, including the licenses and permits they need, soft skills like communication, and the hours you expect them to put into the job. Then do your research on the right interview questions and a salary range you’re comfortable offering for the new position.
Confused about how to create a detailed job listing that attracts the most qualified candidates? Learn more about how to recruit a great restaurant staff.
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