A cook works at restaurants, hotels and other businesses that provide food as part of their service, and is directly responsible for the preparation of the food (and in some cases, such as small fast-food diners, serving it to customers as well). Depending on the size of the kitchen, the cook may work alone or, more commonly, in teams with other cooks. In large restaurants, cooks often have a group of kitchen workers at their disposal, who’re responsible for the more mundane tasks such as cleaning fruits, vegetables and meat, and keeping the kitchen organized. Should not be confused with the chef, whose position is seen as somewhat higher in the hierarchy of a standard restaurant kitchen.
The requirements for becoming a cook depend on the size of the restaurant in question – smaller restaurants are usually willing to accept candidates with little to no working experience, teaching them most of the job’s skills on the go. Some high-grade restaurants, on the other hand, require not only a long line of prior experience from their candidates, but also professional education in a culinary school – though in these cases, the cook is referred to as a chef and their job is a bit more specialized one.
Cooks tend to not be paid very highly, with the median salary for 2009 being $29,000. The job is especially unattractive due to the low demand/return ratio, and there is a generally high turnover rate among cooks. On the other hand, those who remain employed for prolonged periods of time can usually secure some very attractive benefits.