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Career and Education Opportunities for Institutional Cooks in Stockton, California

Stockton, 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. Institutional cooks generally prepare and cook large quantities of food for institutions, such as schools, hospitals, or cafeterias.

A person working as an institutional cook can expect to earn about $12 hourly or $26,760 yearly on average in California and about $10 per hour or $22,210 per year on average in the U.S. as a whole. 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. People working as institutional cooks can fill a number of jobs, such as: mess cook, culinary specialist, and baker.

There are twenty-two schools of higher education in the Stockton area, including two within twenty-five miles of Stockton 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. 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 Stockton 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.
  • 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

Modesto Junior College - Modesto, CA

Modesto Junior College, 435 College Ave, Modesto, CA 95350-5800. Modesto Junior College is a large college located in Modesto, California. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs and has 20,000 students. Modesto Junior College has less than one year, associate's degree, and two to four year programs in Cooking and Related Culinary Arts which graduated five, four, and zero students respectively in 2008.

San Joaquin Delta College - Stockton, CA

San Joaquin Delta College, 5151 Pacific Ave, Stockton, CA 95207. San Joaquin Delta College is a large college located in Stockton, California. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs and has 20,480 students. San Joaquin Delta College has less than one year, one to two year, associate's degree, and two to four year programs in Cooking and Related Culinary Arts which graduated eleven, eight, twenty, and zero students respectively in 2008.

CERTIFICATIONS

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.

LOCATION INFORMATION: Stockton, California

Stockton, California
Stockton, California photo by Ron Reiring

Stockton is situated in San Joaquin County, California. It has a population of over 287,037, which has grown by 17.7% over the last ten years. The cost of living index in Stockton, 91, is below the national average. New single-family homes in Stockton cost $262,500 on average, which is well below the state average. In 2008, one hundred sixty-four new homes were built in Stockton, down from six hundred seventeen the previous year.

The top three industries for women in Stockton are health care, educational services, and accommodation and food services. For men, it is construction, agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting, and public administration. The average travel time to work is about 27 minutes. More than 15.4% of Stockton residents have a bachelor's degree, which is lower than the state average. The percentage of residents with a graduate degree, 4.9%, is lower than the state average.

The unemployment rate in Stockton is 19.4%, which is greater than California's average of 12.3%.

The percentage of Stockton residents that are affiliated with a religious congregation, 38.2%, is less than both the national and state average. Peniel Ministries for Stockton Neighborhood Center, Corinthian Missionary Baptist Church and Kingdom Hall of Jehovahs Witnesses are among the churches located in Stockton. The largest religious groups are the Catholic Church, the LDS (Mormon) Church and the Southern Baptist Convention.

Stockton is home to the Calaveras Landing and the Stockton Country Club as well as Atherton Park and Williams Brotherhood Park. Shopping malls in the area include Saint Marks Plaza Shopping Center, Hammer Ranch Shopping Center and Weberstown Shopping Center. Visitors to Stockton can choose from Best Western Inn, Best Value Inn and Acorn Inn for temporary stays in the area.