Kitchens offer a wide range of job opportunities for all skill levels and personality types. Entry-level employees, experienced cooks and professional chefs all have a role in ensuring a kitchen runs efficiently. Learning about these roles can help you find one that suits your interest and career goals.
In this article, we explain what kitchen jobs are and provide a list of jobs, primary duties and average salaries to help you with your job search.
What are kitchen jobs?
Kitchen jobs are roles that typically include duties related to maintenance, management, organization and food preparation within the kitchen at a restaurant. All kitchen employees have important tasks that allow them to create, prepare and serve quality dishes to restaurant patrons. A kitchen’s varying positions and job responsibilities can provide opportunities for food preparers, managers and culinary artists.
16 jobs in a kitchen
Here’s a list of jobs in a kitchen at all career levels to help you find one that fits your preferences and qualifications:
1. Food runner
Primary duties: A food runner is responsible for retrieving prepared dishes from the kitchen and delivering them to customers quickly. Food runners adhere to sanitation guidelines and food safety standards, check in with customers to ensure they’re satisfied with the dining experience and may handle other customer requests and concerns as they arise.
2. Fry cook
Primary duties: A fry cook is responsible for cooking all fried foods, typically in an industrial fryer. This position is common in large kitchens with multiple stations and varying equipment. Fry cooks know how to operate equipment safely and have general knowledge about preparing fried foods to ensure they reach safe temperatures and are hot when they reach the customer.
Primary duties: Dishwashers operate large commercial quality washers to clean and sanitize many dishes at once. Dishwashers unload the cutlery and dishes brought to the kitchen and place them on trays for washing. They might also have to wash pots and pans by hand and assist the kitchen staff with preparation and cleaning duties.
4. Grill cook
Primary duties: A grill cook is responsible for cooking meat, seafood and vegetables on a grill according to a chef’s requests or customer’s preferences. They understand how to prepare red meat at different levels of doneness and ensure other meats and seafood reach safe temperatures for serving. Grill cooks may also switch stations to assist other chefs as needed.
5. Prep cook
Primary duties: Prep cooks assist chefs and other kitchen employees by completing food preparation duties, such as washing and dicing vegetables, chopping herbs, mixing seasonings and preparing base ingredients for dishes. Prep cooks may also help arrange and make salads, bread, sauces and dressings.
6. Pantry cook
Primary duties: Pantry cooks are responsible for handling food inventory and storage in a kitchen by managing fresh ingredients and ensuring the kitchen has an adequate supply of necessary ingredients. They’re in charge of making sure employees store and label food products properly, maintaining food storage areas and meeting food safety and health regulations.
Primary duties: A butcher is responsible for preparing meat and poultry before delivering it to a chef or a specific kitchen station. They often work in fine dining establishments that purchase fresh meat from local sources. Butchers may also cut and prepare fish and other seafood for cooking and serving.
8. Pastry cook
Primary duties: A pastry cook is responsible for assisting the pastry chef in preparing desserts. While a pastry chef typically creates and makes the dishes, a pastry cook prepares them for serving by plating them and adding garnishes. They may also make simple dessert elements, such as whipped cream or fruit compotes.
Primary duties: A porter is responsible for completing a wide range of supportive tasks in a kitchen. Their duties depend on the restaurant and the needs of the other kitchen employees, but they typically include washing dishes and equipment, mixing and cutting ingredients for dishes and keeping the kitchen organized. Porters may also perform sanitation duties to ensure the kitchen meets cleanliness standards.
Primary duties: Bakers cook pastries and bread to serve to customers, typically in fine dining restaurants. They often collaborate with pastry chefs to create desserts and work with other chefs to provide baked elements for specific dishes. They may also coordinate with vendors to ensure the kitchen maintains an inventory of baking supplies and manage baking schedules.
11. Junior chef
Primary duties: A junior chef, also called a commis chef, is responsible for assisting experienced chefs at different stations within the kitchen. They’re often professional chefs who have completed culinary school and are starting their careers in the field. Working with other chefs allows them to gain experience in making core dish elements and practicing cooking techniques.
Primary duties: A sommelier is responsible for curating fine wine lists, purchasing wine, consulting customers about their options and suggesting combinations with food. They typically work in fine dining establishments and restaurants at luxury hotels and resorts. Many sommeliers receive certification in their field, which demonstrates their advanced knowledge of wine.
13. Kitchen manager
Primary duties: Kitchen managers are responsible for leading kitchen staff, hiring and training new kitchen employees and creating schedules. They’re also in charge of ordering inventory for kitchen employees, tracking sales and ensuring customer satisfaction with the restaurant’s offerings. Kitchen managers enforce restaurant policies, safety protocols and sanitation regulations to maintain the well-being of employees and guests.
14. Sous chef
Primary duties: Sous chefs are responsible for collaborating with executive chefs to plan and manage food preparation. As the second in command, sous chefs typically lead and manage kitchen staff and operations when executive chefs aren’t present. Other duties include monitoring food quality, following food safety regulations and assisting the executive chef in recipe creation.
15. Food and beverage manager
Primary duties: Food and beverage managers are responsible for planning and managing the food and beverage supplies chefs require to create their dishes. They often collaborate with chefs to evaluate menu offerings, suggest ideas for new dishes and make lists of necessary products to order. Food and beverage managers often begin their careers as chefs in the kitchen before moving into this senior role.
16. Executive chef
Primary duties: Executive chefs are trained professionals with a formal education in culinary arts. They’re responsible for overseeing all operations within a kitchen, including monitoring food quality, following food safety regulations and managing kitchen employees to ensure the food meets their expectations and the kitchen runs efficiently. Executive chefs also create new recipes and update the menu accordingly.