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H.S. Diploma
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What is a Food Preparation Worker?

Also known as: Food Prep Worker, Food Preparer, Preparation Cook, Prep Cook.

Food preparation workers perform many routine tasks under the guidance of culinary chefs, cooks or food supervisors. They prepare cold foods, slice meat, peel and cut vegetables, brew coffee or tea, and do many other tasks.

What does a Food Preparation Worker do?

Food preparation workers perform routine, repetitive tasks under the direction of chefs, cooks or food supervisors. To help cooks and other kitchen staff, they prepare ingredients for complex dishes by slicing and dicing vegetables and by making salads and cold items. Food preparation workers typically do the following:

  • Clean and sanitize work areas, equipment, utensils, and dishes
  • Weigh or measure ingredients, such as meat and cheeses
  • Prepare fresh condiments, including lettuce, tomatoes, and onions
  • Cut and grind meats, poultry, and seafood to prepare for cooking
  • Mix ingredients for salads
  • Store food in designated containers and storage areas to prevent spoilage
  • Take and record temperatures of food and food storage areas
  • Place food trays over food warmers for immediate service

Although most food preparation workers help prepare food, some are also responsible for retrieving cooking utensils, pots, and pans, or for cleaning and storing other kitchen equipment. Other common duties include keeping salad bars and buffet tables stocked and clean. Those who work at hotels or full-service restaurants often use soda machines, coffee makers, and espresso and cappuccino machines to prepare beverages for customers. In fast food restaurants, food preparation workers may take customer orders and process payments using cash registers. In some kitchens, food preparation workers use a variety of commercial kitchen equipment, such as commercial dishwashers, blenders, slicers, grinders, and ovens.

What is the workplace of a Food Preparation Worker like?

Food preparation workers are employed in restaurants, hotels, and other places where food is served, such as grocery stores, schools, hospitals, and cafeterias. They often work early mornings, late evenings, weekends, or holidays. Workers must be able to spend most of their work time on their feet as they prepare foods, clean work areas, or lift heavy pots from the stove. The fast-paced environment in kitchens can be hectic and stressful, especially during peak dining hours.

How can I become a Food Preparation Worker?

No formal education or previous work experience is required. Most food preparation workers obtain their skills through short-term on-the-job training, which often lasts several weeks. Many start as kitchen helpers and progress into food preparation positions as they learn basic knife skills. Training generally starts with basic sanitation and workplace safety regulations and continues with instructions on how to handle, prepare, and cook food.

Advancement opportunities for food preparation workers depend on their training, work experience, and ability to do more refined tasks. Many food preparation workers move into assistant or line cook positions as they learn basic cooking techniques.


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