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Career and Education Opportunities for Institutional Cooks in Gilbert, Arizona

Gilbert, Arizona provides a wide variety of opportunities, both career and educational, for institutional cooks. There are currently 5,440 working institutional cooks in Arizona; this should grow by 14% to about 6,210 working institutional cooks in the state by 2016. This is better than the national trend for institutional cooks, which sees this job pool growing by about 9.7% over the next eight years. Institutional cooks generally prepare and cook large quantities of food for institutions, such as schools, hospitals, or cafeterias.

The income of an institutional cook is about $11 hourly or $23,980 per year on average in Arizona. In the U.S. as a whole, their income is about $10 per hour or $22,210 annually on average. Institutional cooks earn less than people working in the category of Cooking generally in Arizona and less than people in the Cooking category nationally. Jobs in this field include: basket lunch preparer, food and nutrition services assistant, and school cook.

The Gilbert area is home to seventy-six schools of higher education, including four within twenty-five miles of Gilbert where you can get a degree as an institutional cook. Given that the most common education level for institutional cooks is a high school diploma or GED, it will take only a short time to learn to be an institutional cook if you already have a high school diploma.

CAREER DESCRIPTION: Institutional Cook

Institutional Cook video from the State of New Jersey Dept. of Labor and Workforce Development

In general, institutional cooks prepare and cook large quantities of food for institutions, such as schools, hospitals, or cafeterias.

Institutional cooks cook foodstuffs in line with menus, special dietary or nutritional restrictions, or numbers of portions to be served. They also clean and inspect galley equipment and work areas to insure cleanliness and functional operation. Equally important, institutional cooks have to apportion and serve food to facility residents or customers. They are often called upon to wash pots and other cooking equipment. Finally, institutional cooks clean and cook meat, fish, or poultry.

Every day, institutional cooks are expected to be able to articulate ideas and problems. They need to listen to and understand others in meetings. It is also important that they evaluate problems as they arise.

It is important for institutional cooks to train new employees. They are often called upon to bake breads and other pastries. They also compile and maintain records of food use and expenditures. They are sometimes expected to direct efforts of one or more staff who help in preparing and serving meals. Somewhat less frequently, institutional cooks are also expected to formulate menus that are varied and appetizing, taking advantage of foods in season and local availability.

Institutional cooks sometimes are asked to decide on meal prices, on the basis of calculations of ingredient prices. They also have to be able to monitor menus and spending to insure that meals are prepared economically And finally, they sometimes have to formulate menus that are varied and appetizing, taking advantage of foods in season and local availability.

Like many other jobs, institutional cooks must be reliable and believe in cooperation and coordination.

Similar jobs with educational opportunities in Gilbert include:

  • Chef. Direct the preparation, seasoning, and cooking of salads, soups, or other foods. May plan and price menu items, order supplies, and keep records and accounts. May participate in cooking.
  • Fast Food Cook. Prepare and cook food in fast food restaurants with limited menus. Duties of the cooks are limited to preparation of a few basic items and normally involve operating large-volume single-purpose cooking equipment.
  • Food Service Aide. Perform a variety of food preparation duties other than cooking, such as preparing cold foods and shellfish, slicing meat, and brewing coffee or tea.
  • Food and Beverage Supervisor. Supervise workers engaged in preparing and serving food.
  • Personal Chef. Prepare meals in private homes.
  • Restaurant Chef. Prepare, season, and cook soups, meats, or other foodstuffs in restaurants. May order supplies, keep records and accounts, price items on menu, or plan menu.
  • Short Order Cook. Prepare and cook to order a variety of foods that require only a short preparation time. May take orders from customers and serve patrons at counters or tables.

EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES: Institutional Cook Training

Rio Salado College - Tempe, AZ

Rio Salado College, 2323 W 14th St, Tempe, AZ 85281. Rio Salado College is a large college located in Tempe, Arizona. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs and has 19,186 students. Rio Salado College has a less than one year program in Cooking and Related Culinary Arts which graduated four students in 2008.

Scottsdale Community College - Scottsdale, AZ

Scottsdale Community College, 9000 E Chaparral Rd, Scottsdale, AZ 85256. Scottsdale Community College is a large college located in Scottsdale, Arizona. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs and has 10,077 students. Scottsdale Community College has a one to two year and an associate's degree program in Institutional Food Workers.

Phoenix College - Phoenix, AZ

Phoenix College, 1202 W Thomas Rd, Phoenix, AZ 85013. Phoenix College is a large college located in Phoenix, Arizona. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs and has 10,917 students. Phoenix College has 3 areas of study related to Institutional Cook. They are:

  • Food Preparation/Professional Cooking/Kitchen Assistant, less than one year which graduated 1 student in 2008.
  • Institutional Food Workers, less than one year, one to two year, and associate's degree.
  • Foodservice Systems Administration/Management, less than one year and associate's degree which graduated one and six students respectively in 2008.

Maricopa Skill Center - Phoenix, AZ

Maricopa Skill Center, 1245 E Buckeye, Phoenix, AZ 85034-4101. Maricopa Skill Center is a small school located in Phoenix, Arizona. It is a public school with primarily less-than 2-year programs and has 953 students. Maricopa Skill Center has a less than one year program in Institutional Food Workers which graduated three students in 2008.


Certified Correctional Foodservice Professional: A key purpose of the Certified Correctional Foodservice Professional certification is to develop the highest standards in.

For more information, see the American Correctional Food Service Association website.

Certified Culinarian: An entry level culinarian professional within a commercial foodservice operation.

For more information, see the American Culinary Federation, Inc. website.

Preventing Disease Transmission: A two-hour training module for employers and employees who, while on the job, may be exposed to blood or other body fluids that could cause infection.

For more information, see the American Red Cross website.

Quality Coffee Certification Program: The purpose of QCCP is to provide operators with sales tools and knowledge that will help them begin or enhance their own quality coffee program for their customers.

For more information, see the National Automatic Merchandising Association website.

School Nutrition Specialist: The Credentialing Program of the School Nutrition Association was created to enhance the professional image of school nutrition professionals.

For more information, see the School Nutrition Association website.


Gilbert, Arizona
Gilbert, Arizona photo by Cygnusloop99

Gilbert is located in Maricopa County, Arizona. It has a population of over 216,449, which has grown by 97.3% over the last ten years. The cost of living index in Gilbert, 94, is below the national average. New single-family homes in Gilbert are priced at $210,100 on average, which is below the state average. In 2008, 1,115 new homes were constructed in Gilbert, down from 2,891 the previous year.

The three most popular industries for women in Gilbert are educational services, health care, and finance and insurance. For men, it is computer and electronic products, construction, and professional, scientific, and technical services. The average travel time to work is about 29 minutes. More than 36.1% of Gilbert residents have a bachelor's degree, which is higher than the state average. The percentage of residents with a graduate degree, 11.3%, is higher than the state average.

The unemployment rate in Gilbert is 4.9%, which is less than Arizona's average of 9.3%.

The percentage of Gilbert residents that are affiliated with a religious congregation, 39.7%, is less than the national average but more than the state average. The largest religious groups are the Catholic Church, the LDS (Mormon) Church and the Southern Baptist Convention.

Gilbert is home to the Santan Substation and the Gilbert Substation as well as Library Park and Parquasito Verde Park. Shopping centers in the area include Village Square Shopping Center and Village Center Shopping Center. Visitors to Gilbert can choose from BCS Hospitality Consultants and CoastClub for temporary stays in the area.