Rookie Line Cook Advice ...?

Joined Jun 4, 2012
I know there are some of you who have varied kitchen experiences for many years (30+ I think I saw). Twenty or thirty years of kitchen experience isn't 'knowledge', its bloody :)

Care to share a few tips for rookie line cooks (or even those wanting to refresh I suppose)? Any guidance is appreciated! 

I have a lot of kitchen experience with prep and cold side, but the line is quite an individual undertaking...I won't lie, it can be a freaky place.
Joined Jun 11, 2011
There will be times when you feel lost, confused, tired, and angry all at once. Most of that due to being busy and lack of communication. When it happens, there's only one thing to do. Stop every thing you're doing and start with the first plate on the first ticket and do one plate at a time. 

I tell every beginner who walks in my kitchen this because when they see me, they think they have to do the same which is all about speed and they start messing up orders trying to go fast. That and their plates look sloppy in which I get on them about. When you panic, that's when things go downhill. Ask questions if you're not sure about something, and you'll either sink or swim! 
Joined Aug 6, 2010
Learn the menu. Get a copy and write notes on it and take it home and study! There should be no reason for the chef or sous to have to tell you the same thing a million times. Once you are shown, and take notes, you should be able to walk yourself through each dish with your notes. Do this at home, repeatedly and you will have a very easy time on your next shift. this will allow you to memorize the menu faster. 
Joined Aug 10, 2011
Keep your area clean! The worst habit you can get into is being a slob. Focus on precision, and technique will follow. Work fast, but always know what your next movement is. If you work faster than you think then you end up wasting time making too many movements, and forgetting things. Also, stand up straight, lift with your knees, back problems are very common.
Joined Feb 17, 2010
Yep....keep it clean!...No one will want to work with you. I had a guy that worked for me, he was known all over town as "Messy Henry", great cook but the biggest slob around. Everyone bitched about him.
Joined May 19, 2012
Sometimes just say YES CHEF. It seems now everyone including newbies know everything. The hardest part of learning on the line is accepting that you don't know everything. Asking for help isn't a sign of weakness it's having the end result in mind and trying to give the guest a great experience. Listen and execute. Most of the time I tell one of my cooks something its because I've been in that same situation and am trying to guide them in the right direction. Be willing to learn someone else's way without argument because you don't know everything.


Joined Feb 18, 2011
Work clean, work smart, let the chef(s) take care of everything else but cooking the food, focus on your cooking with your team and let everything else fall into place.

Work on a system that works for you as well i.e. how you set your station, your protein prep, etc,  just because other cooks do certain things, that doesn't necessarily mean the same will work for you, too.
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