California Occupational Guides

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Summary Guide for

Cooks, Restaurant in California

May also be called: Broiler Cooks; Specialty Cooks; Banquet Cooks, and Dinner Cooks

What Would I Do?

Restaurant Cooks prepare, season, and cook soups, meats, vegetables, desserts, or other food items in restaurants. They may order supplies, keep records and accounts, and plan or price items on menus.

Restaurant Cooks stand most of their work day in a warm kitchen environment. They often deal with the pressure of promptly producing meals that meet quality expectations.

Will This Job Fit Me?

The job of Restaurant Cook will appeal to you if you are results oriented, pay attention to detail, have a passion for food, like hands-on work, and possess an excellent sense of taste and smell.

What Wages and Benefits Can I Expect?

The median wage in 2020 for Cooks, Restaurant in California is $31,335 annually, or $15.07 hourly. The median is the point at which half of the workers earn more and half earn less.

Change to Hourly Wages
Annual Wages for 2020Low
(25th percentile)
Median
(50th percentile)
High
(75th percentile)
California$27,544$31,335$37,000
Source: EDD/LMID Occupational Employment Statistics Survey, 2020 Wages do not reflect self-employment.
View Wages for All Areas

Benefits will vary according to type of establishment, full- or part-time employment, and whether represented by a union. In some large hotels and restaurants, kitchen workers belong to unions. The principal unions are the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees International Union and the Service Employees International Union.

What is the Job Outlook?

Restaurant Cooks will be in demand to work in the growing number of casual-dining chain restaurants and independent fine-dining restaurants. Eating out appeals to busy, two-income families.

How Do I Qualify?

Restaurant Cooks can obtain formal training in culinary arts programs, apprenticeships, or they can work their way up by gaining experience in less-skilled food service jobs.

Finding a Job

Restaurant Cooks have many choices about where they want to work. Do they want to work in a full-service restaurant or a limited-service restaurant? Full-service restaurants are those where you eat before paying for the meal. Limited-service restaurants are those where you pay before eating. Hotels and casinos follow closely as large employers of Restaurant Cooks. Restaurant Cooks may choose to take their cooking skills out of the restaurant environment and work for grocery stores or as personal chefs.  Online job opening systems include JobCentral at www.jobcentral.com and CalJOBSSM at www.caljobs.ca.gov.

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