How to Get a Job as Salad Cook

Thinking about getting a job as a salad cook?

One of the many positions you’ll find in a restaurant kitchen is that of the salad cook, also known as a pantry chef, or garde manger  chef in high end restaurants. These chefs work in a special section of the kitchen devoted to cold foods and appetizers.

What is a Salad Cook?

A salad cook is responsible for cold foods, and that doesn’t just include salads. This can be cheese plates, antipasti platters and other cold appetizers.  In five star restaurants, garde mange chefs also do terrines and canapes. A salad cook will be responsible for shredding lettuce and chopping vegetables for salads as well as accompaniments such as making croutons, frying bacon bits, and making salad dressing if necessary.  A pantry cook is often also responsible for garnishes, and plating dishes as well.

Some  garde manger chefs do jobs such as smoking and curing meats and cheeses, as well as making sausages and pickling vegetables and such.

What does it take to be a Garde Manger Chef or Pantry Chef?

To be a good cold cook, a garde manger chef must be familiar with cold foods, but also other areas of the kitchen, as often they’ll have to help in other parts of the kitchen or even cook some components of cold dishes. Since many of the appetizers and small plates rely on visual appearance for great effect, a good salad cook shows great attention to detail. They must be the type of person that can stand for hours on end doing repetitive tasks such as piping filling into deviled eggs and such.  Being able to produce consistent and attractive results is a must for this job.

Creativity is a must for a good pantry chef; this is especially true if they are the last person who sees the plate before it goes out to the customer. Visual appeal is a huge part of fine cuisine, so in a five star restaurant, a perfect looking dish is a must.

How can I become a garde manger chef?

Many highly trained pantry chefs do it because they love the detail and creativity in the job, and have degrees in culinary arts as well as experience in catering and banquets and other food service operations where feeding large crowds of people is standard.

Other chefs do it to broaden their horizons and learn as many skills as possible to make themselves well rounded chefs. They do these jobs and then move on, as having more skills gives you more opportunities.

Education is not a must, and in fact in some restaurants, making salads and other cold foods is simply an entry level job taken by whoever wants it at the time. This depends on the restaurant of course.

If you don’t have a degree but think you would like to try your hand at being a cold cook, the best place to start would be large catering companies or banquet halls. They often have the need for more than one position and will train the right person, so if you have a passion and a drive, these are great places to start.

If you don’t have experience, books are a great resource. There are many books that go over the art of plating; the more knowledge you can prove you have, the more likely you’ll be able to convince someone that you are right for the job.

Whether you decide to pursue an education or degree, if you have the passion and desire to learn, you can become a salad cook.

More Information about Salad Cooks:

Culinary School Info:

Salad Cook Job Pay and Salary Info:


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