How bad is it being a line cook??

Joined Sep 17, 2005
I know places like apple'bees ( thats it) that has line cooking and heavely is based on that.

Any more franchizes that are based on that?

But how boring/bad is it?
Joined Nov 20, 2000
As I recall the very last thing line cooking is, is boring! Especially if you work at a chain! You won't have time to be bored. Line cooking no matter where you work is a challenging job. It may be the simplest menu in the world, but when you get a ton of chits thrown at you, special requests, you run out of mis en place, someone gets hurt, has to go to the bathroom etc. The air goes out, the suppression system fires, there is a fire, you're short staffed, you get buried, the person next to you is new and getting buried, you run out of pans, plates, you're hung over etc, etc, etc.... sound boring yet? :crazy: :beer:
I'm not sure to what places you could possibly be referring to but every kitchen has a line of some sort, even the most high end of places. Bottom line...sometimes it's slow, but never boring!
Joined May 26, 2001
Before I move this where it belongs ;) I'll give my 2 cents: chrose is right on! :D I never worked at a chain, but believe me, there is nothing boring about being a line cook.

EVERY PLACE has line cooks. Oh, sure, in some restaurants they may be called chefs, but really, everybody who cooks in a restaurant is a line cook. In some places you crank out the same dishes time after time, day after day. Is that boring? Not really, because sometimes you have to do 10 plates in one minute, and sometimes you have 10 minutes between plates. You start to make up games, like How fast can I do this? or How much extra care can I take to fill the time? And as chrose said, if you really have a lot of time on your hands, the sous chef or kitchen manager or chef will notice, and BOOM! you've got to prep a case of corn during your "downtime." And of course, as soon as you start the prepping, a zillion tickets come in and you're busting out the plates again -- except that the sous still expects you to prep that corn!

So it's a lot of fun, and always exciting. And if it isn't exciting, you and the other line cooks will figure out ways to make it exciting. :lol:

Now: is it BAD????? :look: Depends on how you look at it. I loved the time I worked the line (sometimes grill, sometimes sauté, sometimes working the wood-burning oven). It could drive me crazy, it could make me want to scream (like when an order came in for something normally sauteed and served with vegs warmed in beurre montee, but with the note: No fat. :rolleyes: ). But the joy of making delicious, beautiful food for people to enjoy -- there's nothing like it! (Well, as I said, I never worked at a chain. :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: )

And now I'm moving this where it belongs. :eek:
Joined Oct 23, 2003
i'd rather be on the line than anywhere else. No better legal high i can think of ;).

Boring? as said, no way. Bad? if you find it that way maybe the kitchen's not the right place to be.


Staff member
Joined Oct 7, 2001
The line is where it all happens, where it all comes together. It is the funnest place in a restaurant as far as I am concerned. Ask most chefs and they will tell you that they miss being able to work the line on a regular basis.
Joined Sep 17, 2005
yea thx guyz. It just sounded boring doing the same thing day-after day. Being in one spot..thats what I thought it was all about.

I guess it isnt bad nor boring.

And I guess everyone is somewhat of a line cook when you thin kabout it...
Joined Jul 30, 2005
now he said applebees line, at one point in my career i was stuck having to work at one and yes there high paced but a bit boreing due to the fact that that other then the boriler were i was stuck everything is pre-fab there is absolutly no creative cooking involved on a corprate line!!!! so if thats what your refering to then yes corprate lines are boring to the mind!!!!
Joined Jul 23, 2004
Well, first, you must be able to distinguish between "bad" and "hard".

"hard" meaning the work can be physically demanding, sometimes painfull and a lot of stress.

"Bad" can mean you have lousy ingrediants tp work with, screwed up mise en place, broken equipment, a crummy waitstaff, a psycho chef, or worst of all, a machiavellian psychopath for an owner.
Joined Dec 30, 2004
Good lord! You've exactly described my former workplace!

Add to that ignorant clientele, and shifty payroll procedures, and you have my personal ****. I stayed 8 months because I liked the guys on the line, but boy am I EVER glad I got out of there.
Joined Aug 27, 2005
What would you rate the stress level at out of a 10 to be a line cook. Is it not stressful because you become accustom to the speed of things?

Also, do tensions rise often in the kitchen or does everyone know their job and it generally runs smoothly?

I read Anthony Bourdain's "Kitchen Confidential". Sounds like the kitchen can be a very wacky and high stress place?? It appears alot depends on the owners and how knowledgeable they are.

Would love to know more
Joined Jul 23, 2004
Stress is relative when cooking. There is pressure but it can actually be heathly and not debilitating. You do get used to it, you have to.


Betweeen cooks?
Only if there is a slacker in the ranks or someone with an attitude problem dragging down the whole kitchen. With a good chef or sous, they don't last long.

A knowledgeable owner who sincerely loves food, shares information and actually understands what kitchen work really is can be a big help, and is nice to have.
Any other kind, especially bottom liner,s are generally a pain in the *** on one end of the spectrum, to totally destructive and an impediment to everything i stand for on the other. But even they can be tolerated as long as they don't meddle in kitchen operation and leave the Chef and cooks alone.
Joined Oct 4, 2005
We all started as line cooks,we learned to organize,learn to be fast,new menus,sauces,soups,etc.A professional cook starts as a line cook or prep cook,line cooking is where any chef begins,as one who teaches cooking,I line cook is always organize,quick,learns fast any new skill,life is what one makes it,boring,asks to do something new,salad bar,deli bar,catering preperation,offering to help others if not busy. :chef:
Joined Oct 13, 2005
Wow, reading this thread brings back memories!!! I'm on off premise caterer now, but 25 years ago I started as garde manger, then elevated to souschef , (nice way to say line cook), in a very small restaurant working alongside a crazy, but intelligent, owner. Moving on to a kitchen manager with 4 - 19year old guys on the line...that was an experience...and people wonder why I never like to sunbathe??? Maybe all that time spent in front of the salamander..LOL!

But there is nothing like the high of plating 200 fine dining meals a night, you all work in such a crazy ballet. A stressful, physically and mentally draining job at times, but I wouldn't have traded it for the world!

On the downside...any wonder why so many chefs are burnouts??? Just reality folks.
Joined Oct 12, 2005
For me I would say on a scale of 1 to 10 for stress. Stress level of 1 if you have your mise together, everyone else has there mise. if all the equipment is running right, no one is hungover(not too bad at least), and you have a nice full dining room. I would say 1. If all of these conditions are the complete oppostie 10. It usually falls somewhere inbetween.
Joined Oct 2, 2009
I loved that book.

Their is nothing better than the feel and high you get from working in a kitchen that runs like a well oiled machine!!! That feeling you get when you are part of a team that is so fast, skilled, and culinary savvy enough to take on anything. You would think that most people that get to experience that feeling just once....would never leave the restaurant industry, always staying in hopes that they could feel it over and over. That place where the metal hits the meat is a Great place to be on a Friday night, however their is a price to pay in the way you feel when you get "In the Weeds" and you cant get out until the doors close to the place at the end of the night. Either way its worth it all! I got my first job at the age of 15 at a truck stop washing dishes, and walked on the line 2 weeks later and never looked back. It has been an awesome journey, and the good has always out weighed the bad.:bounce::bounce::bounce:
Joined Sep 26, 2009
Depends if you're creative or not. If your idea of fun is to open a SOP manual and cook by numbers you'll be fine, and god help you if you add 1 extra ounce of xyz. Think you can plate the food better of garnish nicer than the manual you'll quickly be in trouble. Move away from chain restaurants and work where your talent and input is appreciated might be better. I find that only 20% of cooks are willing to use their day off to create new menus, most are happy to cook what ever you tell them; I'm different, I want to cook the food I decide to put on a menu, not someone elses idea of 'perfect' food. That is the biggest difference I've found in 25 years of cooking.
Joined Oct 2, 2009
I have done both. No matter how you look at it their is always some sort of a number guideline you must follow. If you are in a applebees, you will have very strict portions to follow. I worked for the cheesecake factory for a bit and a cook would not work a station if he could not pass a written tests on ingredients and portion sizes. As a line cook you will never set the portions. You will not decide menu costs. Their will always be some sort of portion control point to follow. Even if you work for a private restaurant, a line cook will not be too creative of a position. With that being said, only a foolish chef would stifle a cooks thoughts. I encourage my lead line cooks every day to challenge the ideas of creativity. I love all ideas. If they are anything like myself, as a line cook they will challenge their chef daily with new ideas, new creations, and better ways to save money. Someday they will have line cooks doing the same for them. Their is not to many line cooks that get to express creativity. If they did they would be called chefs. I work at home on a regular basis with recipes and menus, cook for seniors every month, special dinner events at home, friends weddings for 500, and on and on and on. My whole life revolves around food. I dint feel i am unique in that when i go to work its like going to a playground where the slides are Vulcan ovens, the flour bin is a sand box, and a catering van is a overgrown tonka toy. I love food!!! If you do as well.......Then any amount of stress you get is worth it! You might find yourself on the wheel calling out the orders, 78 tickets hanging, and another 40 in your fist. Your heart beating fast at the fear of failing and having someone push you out of the way to show you how its done. If this happens and you show up the next day. This line of work is meant for you. i will stop going on about this, but If by chance you are anything like me, you will love being a line cook no matter where you cook.:D
Joined Aug 21, 2009
I love being on the line! I love everything about it.. the pace, the fact that I can play with my food all day and get paid to do it... you name it! I work for a chain so I know all about the portion control, uniformity, etc.. but we do have some creativity in our job. The person on eggs (usually me) can create an omelette special from Monday-Friday and I can use pretty much every ingredient we have onhand, save for smoked salmon as it is rather expensive. Same with the person on the lunch station.. they can create a daily quiche special using the same guidelines as the omelette as for ingredients. We've also recently began making the switch from the campbell's soups to homemade soup for our soup of the day, and the KM told me that if I want to make the soup for the day to feel free and jump in and well I have been and I love it! I love making food that people enjoy. The other thing about the chain I am at (and I think this in general is the exception when it comes to chains) is that anyone can send recipe suggestions to her (we are a breakfast and lunch place but really it's mostly all day breakfast) and she does look at all of them and if she thinks it fits in with the concept, then she'll try them out on the menu as a montly special.


Joined Mar 2, 2006
Never booring as long as you work with a good brigade. Booring yes when you do not get any input and make the same dish for years on end which is what I think you will find cooking in a chain type restaurnant.
Top Bottom