Cooks prepare, cook and serve food. They work in cafes, bars, hospitals, schools, daycare centres, fast food outlets, or for caterers.
Cooks may do some or all of the following:
- prepare raw ingredients
- cook food quickly and efficiently
- arrange food on plates or wrap takeaways
- give instructions and demonstrate cooking methods to others
- create new recipes and plan menus
- order food supplies, organise deliveries and restock shelves
- run their own business.
Cooks need to:
- have a high level of personal hygiene
- have good hand-eye co-ordination as they handle sharp knives and other kitchen tools
- be reasonably fit as they spend long periods on their feet.
Useful experience for cooks includes:
- restaurant work
- any work involving preparing food for others
- work in a catering or food business
- work in the aged care industry.
Cooks need to be:
- quick and efficient, while still being careful
- adaptable and creative
- accurate, with a good eye for detail
- able to work well under pressure and in high-stress environments
- strong communicators
- able to work well in a team.
Cooks need to have:
- food preparation and cooking skills
- the ability to follow recipes and instructions
- knowledge of food hygiene, stock rotation and food storage methods
- an understanding of food allergens
- knowledge of how a commercial kitchen works.
Cooks who run their own business also need business skills.
- may work long hours and shift work that includes early mornings, evenings and weekends
- work in commercial kitchens, takeaway shops, and kitchens in organisations
- work in environments that may be hot, noisy and stressful.
There are no specific secondary education requirements to become a cook. However, home economics (food and nutrition), English and maths to at least NCEA Level 1 are useful.
Cooks may move into supervisory or managerial roles, or more senior chef positions.
They may also set up their own businesses, such as cafes or takeaway shops.
Years Of Training
There are no specific requirements to become a cook as you gain skills on the job.
However, cookery or food-handling qualifications may be useful. These include:
- food hygiene courses
- foundation cookery courses
- cookery apprenticeships
- two-year professional cookery courses.
- ServiceIQ website - information about cookery apprenticeships and courses