Duties and responsibilities
A fast food cook works in a (yep, you guessed it) fast food establishment and is responsible for operating cooking equipment, preparing food, mixing ingredients and ensuring food quality is maintained. Their typical duties and responsibilities include:
- Preparing food from the restaurant menu
- Following food handling procedures
- Presenting or packaging food products
- Cleaning the kitchen and ensuring it is sanitary
- Ensuring utensils are kept clean
- Serving order to customers at windows, counters or tables
There are no formal education requirements to becoming a fast food cook. The real key is experience in the industry in lower level roles (e.g., pot washer) and then working your way up to become a fast food cook.
Skills and relevant work experience
As well as basic cooking knowledge, fast food cooks will need skills such as:
- Verbal communication skills, as fast food cooks will need to communicate with other cooks/restaurant staff to ensure they are getting the order right
- Attention to detail, as fast food cooks need to ensure they aren’t missing any steps
- Organization skills, as kitchens can get busy and stressful and fast food cooks need to keep the kitchen clean
- Dexterity, as working as a fast food cook require gentle hand eye coordination
Most fast food cooks will work full time, including early mornings, late evenings, weekends, and holidays. Lots of the work is shift work, and can often mean working over 40 hours per week.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median hourly salary for a private household cook in the United States is $11.30 per hour. This makes them the lowest paid cooks.
Fast food cooks tend to progress from lower level kitchen roles, such as pot washers or assistant cooks. They can then progress, with more experience, to becoming cooks who work in private households or work in restaurants. They may even, with the correct experience, open their own restaurant or food establishment.