A short lesson on the life of a short-order cook!

A short lesson on the life of a short-order cook!

Q: What does being a short-order cook require?

A: First, they have to be fast. They have to be organized. They have to be able to handle pressure, because waiters and waitresses are going to be on them all the time. They have to think on their feet. They need good knife skills, because they do their own prep work. They need to be high-energy, someone active in sports or in the community. Someone who talks fast and never sits still. The wrong person for the job would be a yoga instructor.

Q: What does being a short-order cook teach you?

A: Organizational skills. You’ve got to cook a burger, a chicken breast and sunny-side-up eggs, all at the same time. You’re always either chopping, cooking, flipping or prepping.

Q: Can you make a career out of being a short-order cook?

A: No. It’s too high-stress. It’s physically and mentally demanding. Most people last six to eight months. If that. In kitchens, you start at the bottom and work your way up. You have to be able to be a short-order cook first.

Q: Why is it such a short-lived job?

A: It can be 100 to 120 degrees behind the line during your shift. The grill, the fryer, the broiler, the flat surface are all about 400 degrees. People don’t think about it, but you end up cooking your hands.

Q: What?

A: You’re using a spatula on a 400-degree surface for six to eight hours. Your hand’s an inch, 2 inches from the surface that’s so hot we have to replace the plastic oil bottles every day, because they melt. You can’t use glass bottles; the heat makes them explode. By the end of your shift, your knuckles are swollen and red. The swelling goes away, but they stay red. I can tell line cooks by looking at their hands.

Q: How much oil do you use during a shift?

A: A LOT. That’s why the chef’s uniforms have long sleeves, and are double-breasted. You have to wear shoes that have oil-resistant, skidproof soles. By the end of a shift, you’re covered in oil, top to bottom.

Q: So short-order cooks have really good skin.

A: That’s true! And the other positives: Instant gratification. Instant feedback. You make people happy. So all that’s good. And when you become an accomplished short-order cook, you have a lot of confidence in yourself. That carries over to your regular life, too.

Source: denverpost.com/2008/12/19/a-short-lesson-on-the-life-of-a-short-order-cook/


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