What Does an Institutional Cook Do?

Institutional cooks (415D) prepare quality food according to budgetary requirements using bulk-cooking methods in conventional, cook chill or cook freeze environments. They meet individual dietary needs, including health requirements, religious needs, and ethnic preferences. They use approved recipes, appropriate ingredients, and specialized equipment for modification techniques during food preparation to achieve the prescribed or recommended textures. They consider regular and prescribed therapeutic diets, modification of textures, and viscosity of fluids when preparing food and beverages. Institutional cooks may work in long-term care homes, retirement homes, hospitals, day care centres, school dining areas, correctional facilities, and corporate environments.

Learn about the business case for training apprentices in the culinary field

Essential Skills for Success as a Cook

Description: http://www.apprenticesearch.com/userfiles/images/chef.gifJob -Related Skills, Interests and Values

  •  Planning a sequence of tasks to meet production requirements within specified costs
  •  Organizing resources (both human and materiel) within time constraints to create a product or products
  •  Performing calculations and using formulas in the preparation of stocks, soups, sauces, seafood, meat and poultry, fruits, vegetables, starches, grains, salads, dressings, eggs, dairy products, baked goods, pastry, desserts, sandwiches, and hors d’oeuvres
  •  Working with dieticians, customers or senior personnel to design meals
  •  Hiring, supervising and training other kitchen personnel
  •  Performing job duties with care and creativity

Additional information on training standards for this particular trades in the Service sector may be found on the Ontario College of Trades (OCOT) website at: http://www.collegeoftrades.ca/wp-content/uploads/Insitutional-Cook-415D-EN-TS3.pdf

View the Essential Skills necessary to work as a Cook (NOC code 6242) 

What Preparation and Training Do You Need?

Before entering an apprenticeship as an Institutional Cook, you must complete Grade 12, with Math and English credits or equivalent (GED or ACE). Job-related co-op placements, related in-school programs or courses are also an advantage. You will need to complete an apprenticeship of 3,600 on-the-job training hours for Institutional Cook, as well as 360 hours of in-school training sessions. This is the minimum to be apprenticed in this trade under the (OCTAA) Ontario College of Trades Apprenticeship Act (2009). Please note that minimum entry requirements to this and other trades are currently under review by the Ontario College of Trades.

If you are currently attending high school, you may benefit from enroling in a Hospitality and Tourism Specialist High Skills Major Program. For more information, please check out the following link:


What’s Your Future as an Institutional Cook?

Most Institutional Cooks work on a full-time basis, although quite a few are employed part-time during the day, evening and weekends including holidays. Hours can be long and irregular. Generally, Institutional Cooks start out as apprentices, then become Line Cooks, then graduate to Junior-level Institutional Cooks as they acquire more skills. Cooks who supervise other cooks in larger businesses are known as Chefs. Institutional Cooks are employed by:

  •   long-term care homes
  •   retirement homes
  •   hospitals
  •   day care centres
  •   school dining areas
  •   correctional facilities

 Wage Rate

  •  Apprentices generally earn less than fully qualified Institutional Cooks, and may earn as little as minimum wage to begin
  • This rate increases gradually as you acquire skills and gain competency
  • Experienced and certified institutional Cooks can earn anywhere from $30,000 to $70,000 per year, depending on the employer; those who are owners or co-owners of a successful restaurant may earn more


Ask Yourself: Is Working as an Institutional Cook for You?

Top of Form

Do you mind working in an environment that can be hot, humid and hectic?

Yes      No

Can you spend a lot of time on your feet, doing repetitive tasks and lifting heavy pots or pans?

Yes      No

Do you mind working evenings, weekends and holidays?

Yes      No

Do you like to maintain and ensure high work standards?

Yes      No

Do you like to research, create and experiment with food?

Yes      No

Do you like to work with your hands, using a variety of techniques and equipment to prepare food?

Yes      No

Do you have the ability to work with numbers and perform calculations?

Yes      No

Bottom of Form

If you answered Yes to most of these questions, a career as an Institutional Cook may be for you!

You may also want to explore other careers that require similar interests and skills, such as:

  • Baker
  • Cook
  • Short-Order Cook
  • Restaurant Manager

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