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Career and Education Opportunities for Institutional Cooks in Peoria, Arizona

For those living in the Peoria, Arizona area, there are many career and education opportunities for institutional cooks. There are currently 5,440 jobs for institutional cooks in Arizona and this is projected to grow 14% to about 6,210 jobs by 2016. This is better than the nation as a whole, where employment opportunities for institutional cooks are expected to grow by about 9.7%. Institutional cooks generally prepare and cook large quantities of food for institutions, such as schools, hospitals, or cafeterias.

Institutional cooks earn about $11 hourly or $23,980 yearly on average in Arizona and about $10 hourly or $22,210 yearly on average nationally. Incomes for institutional cooks are not quite as good as in the overall category of Cooking in Arizona, and not quite as good as the overall Cooking category nationally. Jobs in this field include: cafeteria worker, school cook, and basket lunch preparer.

There are seventy-four schools of higher education in the Peoria area, including four within twenty-five miles of Peoria where you can get a degree to start your career as an institutional cook. The most common level of education for institutional cooks is a high school diploma or GED. You can expect to spend only a short time training to become 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 Peoria 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.


Peoria, Arizona
Peoria, Arizona photo by Ceemo

Peoria is located in Maricopa County, Arizona. It has a population of over 157,960, which has grown by 45.8% over the last ten years. The cost of living index in Peoria, 94, is below the national average. New single-family homes in Peoria are priced at $169,600 on average, which is far less than the state average. In 2008, seven hundred ninety-four new homes were built in Peoria, down from 1,148 the previous year.

The three most popular industries for women in Peoria are health care, finance and insurance, and educational services. For men, it is construction, public administration, and professional, scientific, and technical services. The average commute to work is about 29 minutes. More than 21.7% of Peoria residents have a bachelor's degree, which is higher than the state average. The percentage of residents with a graduate degree, 6.5%, is lower than the state average.

The unemployment rate in Peoria is 6.1%, which is less than Arizona's average of 9.3%.

The percentage of Peoria 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.

Peoria is home to the Maricopa County Community Services and the Lake Pleasant Inn as well as Murphy Park and Varney Park. Shopping centers in the area include Arrowhead Mall, Pueblo Plaza Shopping Center and Plaza de Alamos Shopping Center. Visitors to Peoria can choose from La Quinta Phoenix Inn And Suites Peoria, Hampton Inn Glendale-Peoria and FlyHwnTrvl for temporary stays in the area.