What is the difference between a line cook and a prep cook?

In this brief article, we are going to answer the question,”What is the difference between a line cook and a prep cook?”, and discuss who a line cook and a prep cook is, along with the specialisations of the line cook.

What is the difference between a line cook and a prep cook?

The difference between a line cook and a prep cook is that, line cook has a higher rank than a prep cook. Line cooks are also more experienced and use the ingredients prepared by the prep cook to cook food. 

Who is a line cook?

A line cook is the one who has the responsibility of cooking the main dishes. They also have the responsibility to come up with new recipes. Line cooks have their own stations in the kitchen, as each station demands knowledge in making a particular dish.

The job of the line cook involves working and communicating closely with the cooking team, paying close attention to the hygiene and safety of the kitchen, ensuring quality of food by following the recipes properly, and also overseeing the stocks, dates and temperatures of the food ingredients. 

To become a line cook, one needs to pass or obtain certain qualifications:

Getting a highschool diploma, or going to a culinary school to obtain a proof that you have training in preparing and handling food, passing a food handler safety test, which is required for the insurance of proper handling, storage and cooking temperatures to be used when dealing with food, and sometimes also require an on the job trainings when a degree or a certificate is not required.

Who is a prep cook?

A prep cook is the one who has a responsibility to run the kitchen in a smooth manner, and to gain knowledge and experience from the higher cooks, if they want to advance up in their ranks. Prep cooks also have to assist the line cooks by performing the same type of tasks, regardless of wherever they are stationed.

The educational requirements of a fresh cook may or may not include culinary school experience. It is basically an entry level position and has a role in handling the preparatory work, such as peeling of potatoes, mushroom slicing, washing fruits and vegetables, making dressings for salads and breads, or other simple preparations. 

For this, the prep cook must also have experience with handling knives, handling food, with setting up stations, sanitation guidelines, organisation of the kitchen and working under pressure. They should also be learned and knowledgeable enough as well as become CPR certified in case of emergencies along with knowing to prepare foods at the correct temperatures. 

The job of the prep cook also involves arranging and storing food in a proper manner, following the guidelines and procedures set by the executive chef, maintenance of kitchen equipment, and ensuring hygiene and cleanliness of the kitchen. 

Other than that, prep cooks manage the kitchen inventory, restock the ingredients and other kitchen supplies, and wash the dishes and take the trash out. 

What are the specialities of a line cook? 

  • Sauteing cook – is responsible for sauteing the food ingredients for all food dishes and preparing the sauces. Sauteing cooks are the highest in ranks on the cooking line.
  • Roast Cook – has a role to prepare meat. Fish cook, fry cook, and grill cooks come under this category, depending on the types of dishes the restaurant has to offer.
  • Butcher – has to prepare the meat that has to be cooked, which also includes marination of the meat and cutting the meat as required.
  • Appetiser cook – is responsible for making soups, pasta, vegetables, and hot appetisers. The vegetable cook may also work with the appetiser cook sometimes. 
  • Pantry cook –  has a responsibility for the preparation of cold dishes such as charcuteries and salads
  • Pastry chefs – As the name suggests, they handle pastries, desserts and other types of baked goods. 


In this brief article, we answered  the question,”What is the difference between a line cook and a prep cook?”, and discussed who a line cook and a prep cook is, along with the specialisations of the line cook.