Cook

Job description

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

 

 

Transcript

LEROUX: Three meals a day, seven days a week, three hundred and sixty-five days a year… cooks provide the fuel that keeps the men and women of the Canadian Forces up and running. Whether it’s here at home, abroad on deployment, at sea or in the air… everyone has to eat, and we’re responsible for feeding them.

Hi, I’m Leading Seaman Dana Leroux. I’m from Ottawa, Ontario and I’m a cook here at CFB Esquimalt, British Columbia. I chose to become a cook because I love hard work and I love the satisfaction of serving a good meal.

How many professional cooks can say that they’ve worked on a ship’s galley…

DOUCETTE: Or in a field kitchen in Afghanistan? Hi. I’m Master Corporal Kim Doucette, currently posted at 8 Wing Trenton, Ontario, and I’m an Army cook. The thing I like most about this job is every day you come into work, you never know what each day is going to bring.

DETERING: I’m Corporal Tony Detering, originally from Montreal, Quebec. I’m posted here at CFB Comox as an Air Force cook. One of the best opportunities of taking a trade as a cook in the Forces is you can work at any base in Canada and also around the world.

DOUCETTE: We adhere to strict standards of nutrition, cleanliness and food

handling, to make sure everyone’s getting the sustenance they need to do their jobs. After a while, it feels like we’re cooking for a family… a very large family!

DETERING: You’re all team players of the same organization, trying to get a job done, and you get to know everyone. “Hey, Cookie, how’s it going? What’s on the menu tonight?”

DOUCETTE: Whenever possible, we like to make people feel at home. We prepare all sorts of traditional favourites, like roast turkey and stuffing, or chocolate cake. And we regularly introduce new menu items… as well as different kinds of desserts and pastries to keep things interesting. We do everything from serving formal dinners… to whipping up a bunch of appetizers and snacks for special events.

I’ve been in the military six years, and I was chief cook last night for the mess dinner, and it was pretty cool.

LEROUX: We also operate a number of huge, state-of-the-art kitchen facilities across the country… where in-flight meals for Canadian Forces flights are prepared.

LEROUX: Cooks go wherever the troops go. So depending on whether you choose to serve with the Army, the Navy, or the Air Force, you could find yourself working almost anywhere in the world. And no matter where they are, the troops know that the dining hall is a place where they can get out of the weather, relax, and enjoy a good meal. People have often said that the mission is only as good as the food is.

DETERING: You are the morale of the Forces and you gotta make sure you feed them well.

LEROUX: So that’s a pretty big responsibility and I don’t take it lightly.

DOUCETTE: For cooks working in the field, the challenges are considerable. It’s like going back to the basic fundamentals of the trade. We’re working in mobile kitchen trailers or in a semi-permanent re-locatable kitchen if it’s a larger camp… often with just a single propane burner, and no electricity or running water.

But the Army marches on their stomach, and a well-cooked meal, really boosts morale when they’re far from home.

LEROUX: Cooking onboard ships has its own challenges, like working in a compact kitchen, while the sea pitches beneath you. You have to be vigilant. Something as simple as a boiling pot of water for soup becomes dangerous.

DOUCETTE: To do the job well requires a special blend of skills and creativity, taste and an eye for detail, and good communication skills.

DETERING: As a cook, you’ll be on your feet most of the time, lifting, carrying, and working around equipment… running a large-scale professional kitchen is very demanding. After the end of the day when you clean up and you’ve done it, you all kind of pat each other on the back. Wow, that was a lot we had to feed, but we got it done.

LEROUX: I’d say the key ingredient to being a good cook is being a team player. In the kitchen, we’re all working together and relying on each other to put out the best possible product.

DOUCETTE: There’s always a time and a place to shine and do something on your own, but the key part right now is to be a team.

LEROUX: You know the age-old saying: “If you can’t take the heat, get out of the kitchen.”

DOUCETTE: Cooks start off in the same place everyone else does, with the Basic Military Qualification course, or BMQ, at the Canadian Forces Leadership and Recruit School in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec. This is where you’ll learn the basic core skills, knowledge, and values common to all occupations in the Canadian Forces. After that, it’s off to the Canadian Forces School of Administration and Logistics in Borden, Ontario, for thirteen weeks of Basic Military Occupational Training.

LEROUX: Here is where you learn how to be a cook in the Forces.

DOUCETTE: There’s a lot of theory, a lot of demonstration, but mostly a lot of hands-on. It’s a fully functional kitchen. You’ll learn the specifics of small and large quantity cooking, field cooking, how to maintain specialized kitchen equipment… relevant terminology, budgeting and costing… safe food practices and fire precautions.

You may be eligible to receive most or all of your initial occupational training under the new Non-Commissioned Member Subsidized Education Plan, or NCM SEP. This program allows you to get the same training at a recognized college or technical school, close to home. After that, as an Apprentice Cook, you’ll be part of a team, and your training will continue while on-the-job… eventually, you could be responsible for running the entire kitchen!

DETERING: Once you have done this several years and you have the skills and you take the testing, you can become a qualified Journeyman.

LEROUX: At the Journeyman level, you’ll be given more responsibility, independence and opportunities to prove your leadership potential. From there, you can train for Supervisor and Management levels, where your leadership skills are further developed.

DOUCETTE: In our dining facility, we could either feed Army, Air Force, or Navy.

LEROUX: There’s no other role that I can think of where the job you do every day affects every member of the Canadian Forces.

DETERING: You are needed and you are respected by the troops when you do a good job. They come to us, we feed them, and we send them on their way.

LEROUX: And they love us for it! If you like working as part of a team in a fast-paced, demanding environment, cooking food for a whole lot of people, then you should seriously consider becoming a cook in the Canadian Forces.

Overview

Working environment

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)

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Training

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

On-the-job training

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.

Specialty training

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

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Entry plans

Required education

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.

Direct entry

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.

Paid education

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.

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Part-time option

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.

Part-time employment

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.

Working environment

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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