Wherever there is a kitchen or other establishment where food is prepared and served, you’ll find cooks running the kitchen. Cooks play an essential role in the restaurant operations and business, ensuring customers are satisfied with their food while also keeping ingredients, the menu, and the kitchen fresh, stocked, and safe.
There are different types of cooks, such as line cook, vegetable cook, fry cook, grill cook, or head cook, all of whom play a critical role in preparing and cooking food for customers and keeping the restaurant in business.
If you’re applying for a cook position, knowing how to structure your resume and what you should list and call out, including education, skills, and objectives, can help your resume get noticed and selected and an interview scheduled.
How to structure your cook resume
When formatting your resume for a cook position, you should include:
A summary/career objective
Education (if applicable)
Relevant work history, including the company, dates worked, and a brief description of the duties performed
Relevant skills for the role
Most cook positions don’t require formal education beyond a high school education or GED, so you likely don’t need to list that on your resume (unless the job description does list a formal education requirement, in which case you should include relevant education).
When creating your resume, you’ll want to carefully read the job description to ensure you include all relevant keywords, skills, and experience that shows you are the best candidate. By tailoring your objective and resume to the job description, it’s more likely it will make it through any applicant tracking system software and to the desk of the hiring manager.
Cook job description
A cook is responsible for safely and creatively preparing meals and cooking food for customers in a restaurant or dining location. Whether it’s a fast-food establishment, larger chain, local restaurant, or five-star dining, cooks keep a safe, stocked, and clean kitchen while monitoring and helping other kitchen staff and safely handling and cooking food.
However, cooking food is not a cook’s only task. They also perform several other preparings, ordering, stocking, cleaning, and other administrative responsibilities.
Cook roles can look different depending on the type of restaurant and company for which they work. Generally, the job description for a cook can include duties such as:
Preparing food, like chopping, dicing, slicing, measuring, etc.
Mixing ingredients and following recipes.
Plating and decorating items and dishes.
Baking, grilling, boiling, steaming, or frying meats, fish, vegetables, and other foods.
Maintaining a clean, sanitary and safe kitchen environment.
Checking food inventory and ordering food and supplies when necessary.
Restocking items and ensuring the kitchen is always prepared for service.
Accepting and organizing deliveries, and working with suppliers and delivery drivers.
Creating new recipes and keeping the menu updated.
Most cook roles don’t have a formal education requirement. Many restaurants will hire cooks as long as they’ve completed some high school, though others may require a high school diploma or GED.
However, some establishments prefer you to have professional training or a degree from a culinary school, so be sure to carefully read the job description to ensure you meet any requirements outlined.
You may want to outline your education on your resume like the following:
XYZ High School
High School Diploma
When listing your education, here are a few tips:
Consider leaving off the years you attended or your graduation date. Typically, that’s not as important unless you’re still pursuing your degree. In that case, be clear your education is in progress. For example,
Culinary arts degree; anticipated completion May 2022
List the order of your education with the highest level first. For example, if you have a Bachelor’s degree and high school diploma, list the Bachelor’s degree first, followed by your diploma.
If you have additional certifications or training, list them in their section with the heading “Additional Certifications.” Include the organization that provided the certification, the title, and the date of completion or renewal.
Unless you’re a recent graduate or it’s a requirement for the role, you don’t need to include your high school education.
What to include on your resume for a cook
Typically, a cook resume will list the education or formal training you have that makes you most qualified for the role.
Then, in the work experience section, you’ll want to include duties related to the job description, such as:
Ensured ingredients and final products were consistently ordered, stocked, and fresh.
Followed recipes, including measuring, weighing, and mixing ingredients.
Baked, steamed, and grilled meat, vegetables, fish, poultry, and other foods.
Prepared garnishes and arranged final dishes for presentation and serving.
Assisted other cooks, kitchen staff, and servers in a fast-paced environment.
Ordered food and other supplies and ensured the kitchen was always fully stocked and prepared.
Ensured the kitchen remained cleaned and followed appropriate food safety protocols.
Cooked meals for an average of X customers per shift.
The experience and skills you list should be relevant to the job you’re applying for. Try to go beyond simply listing duties you’ve performed, and instead show both duties and achievements with examples or numbers to support the statements.
Cook skills and traits for a resume
There are many skills and traits you could list on your resume for a cook position. Here are a few to choose from to get you started
Culinary expertise, such as knife skills, balancing flavor profiles, meal prep, etc.
Knowledge of nutrition
Kitchen, food safety, and sanitation protocols
Attention to detail
Verbal communication skills
Customer service expertise
Time management skills
Willingness to learn
Most training and skills needed to be successful as a cook comes through on-the-job experience. Some cooks start as a server or dishwasher to gain exposure to roles and responsibilities within a restaurant. You could also work as a food prep worker or food runner. When working in the restaurant industry, you learn how to perform the tasks you’re responsible for while also following employer policies and procedures.
If you have previous cook or other restaurant experience, be sure to list it on your resume. If you don’t, you can still highlight experience and skills you may have that make you a great candidate for the position. Look at the experience (volunteer or employment) you have and determine which of the above skills were learned or improved upon, and list those on your resume.
Action verbs to include on a cook resume
Should I include references in my cook resume?
Your resume is a professional representation of your career qualifications and skills that make you an ideal candidate. As a general rule, avoid including references in your resume unless they are specifically asked for. This is information that tends to distract hiring managers from the information you want them to see, and it can take up valuable space on the page.
If references are requested, you can include them on your resume or as a separate document. Be sure to list the name, job title, company, email address, and phone number for each reference.
Cook resume objectives
A career objective, also known as a resume objective or summary, is a brief statement toward the top of your resume that explains your professional goals and intentions for applying to a job. In 1 to 3 sentences, you should mention the job title, add a couple of key skills, and share what you’re hoping to achieve in the job.
Cook with X years of experience preparing and cooking food, ordering supplies, and ensuring a clean and safe kitchen environment seeking a position with XYZ restaurant.
Highly-motivated individual looking for an entry-level cook position with XYZ restaurant to enable the use of creativity, expertise, and culinary knowledge and ensure positive dining experiences for customers.
Detail-oriented and passionate cook with X years of experience looking for a position with XYZ restaurant to provide excellent culinary expertise and maintain high standards of care and cleanliness.
Passionate cook with a lot of restaurant experience. Interested in opening for a cook position at XYZ restaurant.
Listing skills and traits that make you an excellent candidate are important but try to be more specific about your expertise or other personality traits. Additionally, quantify your years of experience instead of saying things like “a lot” or “much.”
Hardworking cook with experience cooking and preparing meals.
This is another example where you should quantify your years of experience as a cook or in the restaurant industry. Additionally, build upon these traits and skills and list those that are most important and relevant to this role. Use this space to grab the attention of the hiring manager so they read your resume.
Individual with no experience seeking a position as a cook for XYZ restaurant, but willing to complete on-the-job training.
Not all cook positions require prior experience, but you shouldn’t call out your lack of experience in the objective. Instead, throughout your resume, list out other roles and responsibilities at past jobs, volunteer work, or other tasks you’ve done that could be relatable to working as a cook.