Cooks prepare nutritious food items and meals for Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) members and National Defence employees.
Their responsibilities are to:
- Operate, clean and maintain food services equipment and facilities
- Manage food safety
- Assist in the handling and control of food and non-food supplies
- Practise workplace health and safety procedures
- Prepare and serve meals that range from cafeteria-style menu items to formal multi-course meals for military and civilian dignitaries
A Cook may work in a variety of environments within Canada, or overseas on deployments. Nearly half of all Cooks are employed at bases and wings while the other half serve with land-based operational units or onboard ships and submarines.
Pay and career development
The starting salary for a fully trained Cook is $49,400 per year; however, depending on previous experience and training the starting salary may be higher. Cooks who demonstrate the required ability, dedication and potential are selected for opportunities for career progression, promotion and advanced training.
At the Journeyman level, a Cook can perform tasks either independently or under minimum supervision and is required to explain and demonstrate to apprentice cooks how to perform certain tasks. An experienced Journeyman Cook will be called upon to supervise others.
At the Supervisory level, a Cook is responsible for planning, assigning, directing, monitoring and evaluating the tasks and duties of their team, for developing their occupational knowledge and skills, for building strong, task-oriented teams and for providing effective leadership.
At the Managerial level, a Cook is responsible for planning food services support activities; controlling the efficient and cost effective use of resources, including food, labour, equipment and budgetary resources; managing human resources and ensuring their professional development; managing the operating performance of the food services operation; and maintaining professional work relationships with clients, suppliers and other support organizations.
Related civilian occupations
- Institutional or Restaurant Cook
- Food Services Instructor in high schools or colleges
- Food Services Manager or Supervisor (Food Service Establishment)
Basic military qualification
The first stage of training is the Basic Military Qualification course, or Basic Training, held at the Canadian Forces Leadership and Recruit School in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec. This training provides the basic core skills and knowledge common to all trades. A goal of this course is to ensure that all recruits maintain the CAF physical fitness standard; as a result, the training is physically demanding.
Basic occupational qualification training
Cooks attend an 18-week training course at the Canadian Forces School of Administration and Logistics in Borden, Ontario. Based on a combination of theory, demonstration and hands-on experience, Cooks will learn the following basic skills:
- Cooking terminology, weights and measures
- Conversions and equivalencies
- Introductory baking and meat cutting
- Small and large quantity cooking of a full range of products
- Field cooking
- Food safety practices and techniques
- Food service standards and basic food cost controls
- Fire and safety precautions
- Equipment and facility maintenance
The Apprentice Cook will gain hands-on experience through an 18-month on-the-job training program, which focuses on meal preparation and service tasks. Cook supervisors determine priorities and meal production plans, provide direction and monitor cooking tasks.
Cooks may be offered the opportunity to develop specialized skills through formal courses and on-the-job training. Specialty courses include:
- Instructional techniques
- Submarine service
- Ship’s diver
- Basic parachutist
- Flight Steward
- Food and Beverage Manager certification
- Hospitality Manager’s development course
The minimum required education to apply for this position is the completion of the provincial requirements for Grade 11 or Secondaire V in Quebec, including Grade 11 general (workplace) math or math 514 in Quebec. Foreign education may be accepted.
If you already have a college diploma in food services or culinary arts, the Forces will decide if your academic program matches the training criteria for this job and may place you directly into the required on-the-job training program following basic training. Basic training and military occupation training is required before being assigned.
Non-commissioned Member Subsidized Education Program (NCM SEP).
Because this position requires specialty training, the CAF will pay successful recruits to attend the diploma program at an approved Canadian college. NCM SEP students attend basic training and on-the-job training during the summer months. They receive full-time salary including medical and dental care, as well as vacation time with full-pay in exchange for working with the CAF for a period of time. If you choose to apply to this program, you must apply both to the CAF and the appropriate college. For more information, see Paid education.
This occupation is available part-time within the following environments: Navy, Army, Air Force
Serve with the Reserve Force
This position is available for part-time employment with the Primary Reserve at certain locations across Canada. Reserve Force members usually serve part time at an Air Force Wing in their community, and may serve while going to school or working at a civilian job. They are paid during their training. They are not posted or required to do a military move. However, they can volunteer to move to another base. They may also volunteer for deployment on a military mission within or outside Canada.
Cooks serve with the Royal Canadian Navy, Canadian Army or Royal Canadian Air Force. They are employed preparing food items and meals for CAF members and National Defence employees. Cooks employed on a part-time or casual full-time basis usually serve at a military base, wing, home port or ship located within Canada.
Reserve Force training
Reserve Force members are trained to the same level as their Regular Force counterparts. They usually begin training with their home unit to ensure that they meet the required basic professional military standards. Following basic military training, basic occupational skills training for Cooks takes about 18 weeks and is conducted at the Canadian Forces Logistics Training Centre (CFLTC) in Borden, Ontario. Following this, they further gain hands-on experience through an 18-24 month on-the-job training program.
Reserve Force members usually serve part-time with their home unit for scheduled evenings and weekends, although they may also serve in full-time positions at some units for fixed terms, depending on the type of work that they do. They are paid 85 percent of Regular Force rates of pay, receive a reasonable benefits package and may qualify to contribute to a pension plan.
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