Becoming a Demi Chef or Line Cook

Thinking about becoming a demi chef? Or maybe you are wondering, “What is a demi chef, anyway?”

A demi chef, more often called a line cook in the restaurant business is an important job, and often the start of a chef’s career.

A line cook is one of the most important jobs in the kitchen. Usually working a specific station, such as sauté, they are responsible for the cooking of most of the food in the kitchen. The job requires not only being able to cook, but to do so in a fast paced setting with little error. As any head chef will tell you, there isn’t any place in a restaurant for a slow line cook.

What are the duties and responsibilities of a demi chef / line cook?

A demi chef’s job, although necessary, is not the most glamourous job in the kitchen. Late nights in a hot kitchen, with little time for breaks, combined with an hourly wage that often isn’t much, makes the job less than appealing.

So why do people do it? Because it’s often a first step towards being a professional chef. Many people think that going to culinary school automatically gains you chef status, but the truth is, cooking in school is much different from cooking in restaurants. Most students who are serious about moving up in the world of cooking professionally either take line cook jobs while still in school or get these jobs as externships before graduating. It is as a line cook that you will learn how a restaurant kitchen operates, as well as if you have what it takes to have a rewarding culinary career.

There are many professional demi chefs that have no desire for the demanding job as an executive or head chef and may stay on the line for awhile, but very often due to low pay and a high pressure environment line cook jobs have a pretty high turnover rate.

How do I become a line cook?

Because a line cook is such an important role in a professional kitchen, the hiring process isn’t taken lightly. A head chef or restaurant owner will want to know what kind of skills you have, and may even ask for demonstration in the form of a practical during the interview process.  Knowing how to cook is not the only requirement for this job. You have to know how to cook in a restaurant environment, much different from a home kitchen.

Culinary school is a good start and will definitely get you in the door of upscale restaurants. Knowledge of ingredients, preparation, as well as different cooking methods is a huge plus, and understanding safety and sanitation is vital. Certification such as that done by Servsafe is often required.

Communication and organizational skills are necessary, as often you’ll be working in a small space with other chefs and cooks and being able to get along with them is an important part of the job. Since you’ll be working under extreme pressure most of the time, the ability to handle stress is also necessary.

If you don’t have a formal education, that’s okay, but restaurant experience of some kind is usually required and often you may not be hired on immediately as a demi chef until you have demonstrated that you have a passion for food and the restaurant industry.

Almost all kitchen professionals worked as a line cook at some point in their career so if you feel it’s a tough job, you’ll have to grin and bear it, at least for a little while.

Becoming a line cook is an important career move on the path to becoming a professional in the food world, one that restaurants can’t do without.

For more information on becoming a demi chef, please check out the following references:

Demi Chef / Line Cook Education Info:
http://www.directoryofschools.com/Hotel-and-Restaurant-School.htm

http://www.culinaryschools.org/

Demi Chef / Line Cook Pay, Wages and Salary Information:
http://www.payscale.com/research/US/Job=Line_Cook/Hourly_Rate

Photo Courtesy Of:
http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/view_photog.php?photogid=149

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