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Career and Education Opportunities for Institutional Cooks in Fresno, California

Fresno, California provides a wide variety of opportunities, both career and educational, for institutional cooks. Currently, 22,800 people work as institutional cooks in California. This is expected to grow 14% to about 26,000 people 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. In general, institutional cooks prepare and cook large quantities of food for institutions, such as schools, hospitals, or cafeterias.

Income for institutional cooks is about $12 hourly or $26,760 yearly on average in California. Nationally, their income is about $10 hourly or $22,210 per year. Compared with people working in the overall category of Cooking, people working as institutional cooks in California earn less. They earn less than people working in the overall category of Cooking nationally. Jobs in this field include: special diet cook, ranch cook, and culinary specialist.

The Fresno area is home to twenty-four schools of higher education, including one within twenty-five miles of Fresno where you can get a degree as an institutional cook. Institutional cooks usually hold a high school diploma or GED, so 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 Fresno 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.
  • 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.

EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES: Institutional Cook Training

Fresno City College - Fresno, CA

Fresno City College, 1101 E. University Ave, Fresno, CA 93741. Fresno City College is a large college located in Fresno, California. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs and has 23,063 students. Fresno City College has 2 areas of study related to Institutional Cook. They are:

  • Cooking and Related Culinary Arts, less than one year and two to four year which graduated four and zero students respectively in 2008.
  • Foodservice Systems Administration/Management, less than one year and two to four year which graduated nine and zero students respectively 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.


Fresno, California
Fresno, California photo by Cadking3

Fresno is situated in Fresno County, California. It has a population of over 476,050, which has grown by 11.3% over the last ten years. The cost of living index in Fresno, 94, is below the national average. New single-family homes in Fresno are valued at $156,200 on average, which is far less than the state average. In 2008, 1,230 new homes were constructed in Fresno, down from 2,016 the previous year.

The three big industries for women in Fresno are health care, educational services, and social assistance. For men, it is construction, accommodation and food services, and administrative and support and waste management services. The average travel time to work is about 22 minutes. More than 19.0% of Fresno residents have a bachelor's degree, which is lower than the state average. The percentage of residents with a graduate degree, 6.1%, is lower than the state average.

The unemployment rate in Fresno is 14.8%, which is greater than California's average of 12.3%.

The percentage of Fresno residents that are affiliated with a religious congregation, 47.5%, is less than the national average but more than the state average. Pearlygrove Baptist Church, Peace Lutheran Church and Golden Harvest Church of God in Christ are all churches located in Fresno. The most prominent religious groups are the Catholic Church, the Assemblies of God and the Southern Baptist Convention.

Fresno is home to the Cribari Winery and the Aspen Hall as well as Beiden Field and Woodward Park. Shopping malls in the area include Figarden Shopping Center, First And Shaw Shopping Center and Fresno Fashion Fair Shopping Center. Visitors to Fresno can choose from Bedding & Fine Furniture, Best Budget Inn and Best Value Water Tree Inn for temporary stays in the area.