Although they might not be personally cooking the meals we eat out at restaurants, prep cooks are the ones preparing the ingredients that go into each dish. They are makers and contributors who play a key role in kitchens running smoothly and making our dining experiences enjoyable.
The role of a prep cook is often the first job someone has working in a kitchen. They make sure ingredients are ready for other cooks or chefs to use by chopping, peeling, and washing various food items. They may also prepare (mostly cold) dishes like salads, dressings and sides. Prep cooks must be able to closely follow instructions, stand for long periods of time, and work well in fast-paced, often high-pressure environments.
While there are no formal educational requirements to become a prep cook, completing a degree or certificate in culinary arts can be helpful for career advancement. They usually learn cooking techniques and specific kitchen duties through on-the-job training, so starting as a prep cook is a great way to eventually advance to higher-level positions like line cook or head chef. Jobs for cooks are expected to grow 10% by 2029.