Large institutions such as hospitals, hotels, and schools often have cafeterias for visitors and staff to order and eat food. Cafeteria cooks prepare and cook food for these guests that adhere to the relevant health guidelines and their institution's quality standards.
These professionals work indoors in a kitchen environment. They often collaborate with other cooks in the cafeteria and are responsible for documenting the ingredients required for the foods they are either asked to prepare or decide to prepare. Cooks who work at specialized institutions - for example, hospitals and assisted living facilities - may also be required to know the type of food that their clients can and cannot eat. This may also include preparing food choices that fit common dietary requirements, such as meals that are low in fat or contain no sugar. Cafeteria cooks must also follow the proper procedures for food waste and maintaining a sanitary workstation.
Cafeteria cooks must be able to efficiently establish an effective system for food preparation in the kitchen. This includes preparing their stations, cooking their food, serving a consistent portion size, and being able to adjust dishes if a client has special food related needs. They must able to prepare food under strict deadlines (such as specific lunch and dinner times), and they typically must be able to prepare food quickly and efficiently. The position may be both physically and mentally demanding; it also requires excellent communication skills with colleagues and, as needed, customers.
Cafeteria cooks generally need to provide proof of culinary arts and food preparation certification or accreditation from an accredited institution. Previous experience may be preferred.
Cook, Institution and Cafeteria Tasks
- Clean and maintain work area, utensils, and dishes.
- Monitor food quality and test for doneness, serving in standard portions and presentations.
- Maintain food logs, expenditures, and inventory.
- Prepare ingredients by washing, chopping, weighing, and measuring.
- Operate cafeteria's equipment to cook and produce meals.