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Also known as:  Cafeteria Cook, Camp Cook, Galley Cook, Institutional Cook, Mess Cook, School Cook


For most of us, our first experience with a cafeteria is eating lunch at school. But many other institutions, such as hospitals and businesses, provide similar in-house food services. The people who prepare the meals are called institution and cafeteria cooks. Often referred to as food-service chefs ...
or executive chefs, they have a big job to do. A large variety of foods need to be provided for hundreds, even thousands, of customers every day.

For each meal, cooks prepare menus that often include soups, salads, entrees, side dishes, and deserts. They work in huge kitchens usually assisted by a staff of helpers. In addition to giving orders, this job requires following written directions, such as recipes.

Being able to multi-task is important, since many items need to be prepared at the same time. Most of the shift is spent standing in front of hot stoves and ovens or at the cutting board. Because you're working with very large quantities, cookware is far heavier than what people use at home.

Skills can be learned in vocational school or on the job. And although a high school diploma is not required, it's recommended, especially for those planning a career as a cook. Hours vary and may include early mornings, late nights, holidays, and weekends.

This could be a good job for those seeking supplemental income, flexible hours, or variable schedules. Whether serving hungry students or employees grabbing a quick bite, large-scale food services depend on the special talent of institutional and cafeteria cooks.
Prepare and cook large quantities of food for institutions, such as schools, hospitals, or cafeterias.
Critical decision making
Level of responsibilities
Job challenge and pressure to meet deadlines
Dealing and handling conflict
Competition for this position
Communication with others
Work closely with team members, clients etc.
Comfort of the work setting
Exposure to extreme environmental conditions
Exposure to job hazards
Physical demands
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Train new employees.
Take inventory of supplies and equipment.
Cook foodstuffs according to menus, special dietary or nutritional restrictions, or numbers of portions to be served.
Wash pots, pans, dishes, utensils, and other cooking equipment.
Clean and inspect galley equipment, kitchen appliances, and work areas to ensure cleanliness and functional operation.
Apportion and serve food to facility residents, employees, or patrons.
Direct activities of one or more workers who assist in preparing and serving meals.
Bake breads, rolls, and other pastries.
Clean, cut, and cook meat, fish, or poultry.
Getting Information Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events Identifying information by categorizing, estimating, recognizing differences or similarities, and detecting changes in circumstances or events.
Evaluating Information to Determine Compliance with Standards Using relevant information and individual judgment to determine whether events or processes comply with laws, regulations, or standards.
Organizing, Planning, and Prioritizing Work Developing specific goals and plans to prioritize, organize, and accomplish your work.
Performing for or Working Directly with the Public Performing for people or dealing directly with the public. This includes serving customers in restaurants and stores, and receiving clients or guests.
Performing General Physical Activities Performing physical activities that require considerable use of your arms and legs and moving your whole body, such as climbing, lifting, balancing, walking, stooping, and handling of materials.
Making Decisions and Solving Problems Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.
Monitor Processes, Materials, or Surroundings Monitoring and reviewing information from materials, events, or the environment, to detect or assess problems.
Food Production Knowledge of techniques and equipment for planting, growing, and harvesting food products (both plant and animal) for consumption, including storage/handling techniques.
Mathematics Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.
Education and Training Knowledge of principles and methods for curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.
Customer and Personal Service Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.
Administration and Management Knowledge of business and management principles involved in strategic planning, resource allocation, human resources modeling, leadership technique, production methods, and coordination of people and resources.
English Language Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
Public Safety and Security Knowledge of relevant equipment, policies, procedures, and strategies to promote effective local, state, or national security operations for the protection of people, data, property, and institutions.
Production and Processing Knowledge of raw materials, production processes, quality control, costs, and other techniques for maximizing the effective manufacture and distribution of goods.
Problem Sensitivity The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing there is a problem.
Speech Recognition The ability to identify and understand the speech of another person.
Speech Clarity The ability to speak clearly so others can understand you.
Near Vision The ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).
Oral Comprehension The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
Oral Expression The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
Selective Attention The ability to concentrate on a task over a period of time without being distracted.
Finger Dexterity The ability to make precisely coordinated movements of the fingers of one or both hands to grasp, manipulate, or assemble very small objects.
Time Management Managing one's own time and the time of others.
Active Listening Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
Reading Comprehension Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.
Service Orientation Actively looking for ways to help people.
Critical Thinking Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
Monitoring Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.
Management of Personnel Resources Motivating, developing, and directing people as they work, identifying the best people for the job.
Judgment and Decision Making Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.