How to Become a Teenage Chef

In order to be a teen chef, you have to become a line cook first. The reason is because you’re not experienced enough to be a true chef yet, but you can start as a line cook and progress from there.

What Does a Line Cook Do?

A line cook prepares food at restaurants according to the way the head cook wants the food dishes to be prepared. The duties vary depending on the restaurant and where in the “line” you are employed. You may be assembling salads and side dishes, flipping burgers on a hot stove or many other tasks.

A line cook is a great position for those looking to get into the cuisine or restaurant industry. At the least, it is a good job for a young person to make some extra spending money while at school or during the summer months.

The kitchen environment can be a little hectic, especially during dinner and lunch rush hours. The job can be fast-paced at times and slow at others. At the end of the day, your job is to make the best quality food for the customer in the way the restaurant you work for wants you to.

How Much Does a Line Cook Get Paid?

What a line cook makes depends on the restaurant that employs them. Their wage can be minimum wage at a fast food-style burger restaurant or it can be quite a bit more if the restaurant is more up-scale. The terms of pay should be discussed at the interview or upon hiring.  We estimate it's likely that you'll get somewhere between $8-$12 per hour. 

Many people are line cooks for many years and are able to live off what they are paid. Many people treat being a line cook as a temporary job for the summer months or a school year, or until they find a higher-paying job.

Look at your needs before accepting a pay rate. Are you trying to pay rent? Are you looking for some spending cash this summer? Break down your monthly bills and decide how much you need to make from a job in order to make your payments on time or meet the financial goals you have set for yourself. Always manage your jobs and money wisely, and you will worry less than someone who puts little thought into it.

How Can I Get Started as a Sous Chef?

1. It’s time to put out applications. The best way to do this is the classic way – walk in, introduce yourself and ask if their restaurant is hiring. Most restaurants still hand out paper applications and many managers like to put a face to the names they see on those applications. Though it might be a cliché, it really is important to make a good first impression. Once you have your application, you can either fill it out at the restaurant or take it home to fill it out and bring back at a later date.

You may also want to attach resumes to your applications. This shows possible employers that you are a professional and are serious about getting a job at their restaurant. You can also try to find jobs on a website like Indeed.com as well.

2. Once your applications are filled out, be sure to hand them into the manager at the restaurants, if they’re available. Dress well while you ask for and return applications and resumes – if you don’t put work into your appearance, the managers may think you won’t put pride into your work if they hire you. Dressing in a business casual style is often the safest and best choice.

3. After you turn in your application, it’s time to wait. Some applicants like to go the extra mile after they turn in their applications and call or visit the restaurant a couple days after they turn in their application. It’s important to give the manager enough to review your application before calling – don’t rush them. But, by calling and asking them if they have any questions about your application, you have shown them that you really are interested in working for their company and this will put you a step above the rest of the applications who don’t call.

4. Once you have received a call from the restaurant and they let you know you have been hired, be sure to ask them about dress codes. Will you need to purchase clothes that match their kitchen staff’s dress code or will they provide uniforms? Odds are, you will need to purchase a pair of non-slip work shoes. These will keep you from slipping around and potentially hurting yourself or others in an often-slippery kitchen space.

5. Once you have your uniform, all that’s left is for you to go to work! Be sure you have reliable transportation and show up to work on time. Work hard, and you will always get more out of your job than those who don’t. Bon appetite!

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