Diet cooks prepare and present meals according to special dietary or nutrition needs.
The duties of a diet cook include, but are not limited to:
- Preparing food items by chopping, slicing, dicing, mincing, or mashing ingredients
- Preparing and cooking meals according to recipes or meal plans provided by a dietician or other health professional
- Preparing foods that require special preparation such as canning fruits and vegetables or making homemade baby food
- Preparing menus, shopping for ingredients, and keeping inventory of food items
- Cleaning, chopping, dicing, slicing and cooking food items according to recipes or meal plans provided by a dietician or other health professional
- Cooking meals for groups of individuals such as families or businesses using commercially prepared food items or recipes developed by a chef
- Preparing and cooking large quantities of food items such as roasts, stews, soups, or casseroles
- Stocking the pantry with ingredients needed for meals such as dry goods, fresh produce, canned goods, and meats
- Cleaning and maintaining kitchen equipment and supplies such as dishes, pots and pans, utensils, appliances, and dishwashers
The following job titles also refer to diet cook:
health care cook
nursing home cook
special diet cook
Diet cooks work in the kitchen of a hospital, nursing home, or other type of institution, preparing meals according to the nutritional needs of the patients or residents. They typically work the usual 40-hour week, although they may be required to work overtime during busy periods, such as holidays.
Because they work in a kitchen, diet cooks are exposed to heat, noise, and fumes from cooking equipment. They also may be exposed to potential injuries from sharp knives and other kitchen utensils.
A high school diploma is often required to work as a diet cook. Some employers may prefer an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in culinary arts. Courses in nutrition, food preparation and culinary arts are often included in culinary degree programs.
ISCO skill level
ISCO skill level is defined as a function of the complexity and range of tasks and duties to be performed in an occupation. It is measured on a scale from 1 to 4, with 1 the lowest level and 4 the highest, by considering:
- the nature of the work performed in an occupation in relation to the characteristic tasks and duties
- the level of formal education required for competent performance of the tasks and duties involved and
- the amount of informal on-the-job training and/or previous experience in a related occupation required for competent performance of these tasks and duties.
Diet cook is a Skill level 2 occupation.
Diet cook career path
These occupations, although different, require a lot of knowledge and skills similar to diet cook.
Long term prospects
These occupations require some skills and knowledge of diet cook. They also require other skills and knowledge, but at a higher ISCO skill level, meaning these occupations are accessible from a position of diet cook with a significant experience and/or extensive training.
Essential knowledge and skills
This knowledge should be acquired through learning to fulfill the role of diet cook.
- Nutrition: The science that investigates the various substances and nutrients (proteins, carbohydrates, tannins, anthocyanins, vitamins, and minerals) and their interaction in food products.
- Composition of diets: The planning, selection, composition and manufacturing of diets for healthy and ill persons.
Essential skills and competences
These skills are necessary for the role of diet cook.
- Comply with food safety and hygiene: Respect optimal food safety and hygiene during preparation, manufacturing, processing, storage, distribution and delivery of food products.
- Identify nutritional properties of food: Determine nutritional properties of food and label products appropriately if required.
- Store raw food materials: Keep in reserve raw materials and other food supplies, following stock control procedures.
- Receive kitchen supplies: Accept the delivery of ordered kitchen supplies and make sure everything is included and in good condition.
- Use food preparation techniques: Apply food preparation techniques including the selecting, washing, cooling, peeling, marinating, preparing of dressings and cutting of ingredients.
- Dispose waste: Dispose waste in accordance with legislation, thereby respecting environmental and company responsibilities.
- Work in a hospitality team: Function confidently within a group in hospitality services, in which each has his own responsibility in reaching a common goal which is a good interaction with the customers, guests or collaborators and their contentment.
- Handover the food preparation area: Leave the kitchen area in conditions which follow safe and secure procedures, so that it is ready for the next shift.
- Use reheating techniques: Apply reheating techniques including steaming, boiling or bain marie.
- Use culinary finishing techniques: Apply culinary finishing techniques including garnishing, decorating, plating, glazing, presenting and portioning.
- Use food cutting tools: Trim, peel and slice products with knives, paring or food cutting tools or equipment according to guidelines.
- Ensure cleanliness of food preparation area: Guarantee the continuous cleanliness of kitchen preparation, production and storage areas according to hygiene, safety and health regulations.
- Maintain a safe, hygienic and secure working environment: Preserve health, hygiene, safety and security in the workplace in accordance with relevant regulations.
- Maintain kitchen equipment at correct temperature: Keep the refrigeration and storage of equipment at the correct temperature.
- Use cooking techniques: Apply cooking techniques including grilling, frying, boiling, braising, poaching, baking or roasting.
Optional knowledge and skills
This knowledge is sometimes, but not always, required for the role of diet cook. However, mastering this knowledge allows you to have more opportunities for career development.
- Prepared meals: The industry of prepared meals and dishes, the manufacturing processes, the technology required for manufacturing, and the market that it targets.
Optional skills and competences
These skills and competences are sometimes, but not always, required for the role of diet cook. However, mastering these skills and competences allows you to have more opportunities for career development.
- Prepare dairy products for use in a dish: Make dairy products for use in a dish by cleaning, cutting or using other methods.
- Order supplies: Command products from relevant suppliers to get convenient and profitable products to purchase.
- Slice fish: Cut fish or fish parts into fillets and smaller pieces.
- Prepare meat products for use in a dish: Make meat products for use in a dish by cleaning, cutting or using other methods.
- Prepare saucier products for use in a dish: Make saucier products for use in a dish by cleaning, cutting or using other methods.
- Comply with standard portion sizes: Adhere to set portion sizes by cooking meals according to standard food portion sizes and recipe specifications.
- Prepare sandwiches: Make filled and open sandwiches, paninis and kebabs.
- Prepare salad dressings: Make salad dressings by mixing desired ingredients.
- Cook seafood: Prepare seafood dishes. The complexity of the dishes will depend on the range of seafood used and how they are combined with other ingredients in their preparation and cooking.
- Prepare bakery products: Make bakery products such as bread and pasta by preparing dough, using proper techniques, recipes and equipment to achieve ready bakery items, combining with other products if necessary.
- Handle chemical cleaning agents: Ensure proper handling, storage and disposal of cleaning chemicals in accordance with regulations.
- Cook vegetable products: Prepare dishes based on vegetables in combination with other ingredients if necessary.
- Plan menus: Organise menus taking into account the nature and style of the establishment, client feedback, cost and the seasonality of ingredients.
- Cook sauce products: Prepare soups, hot sauces, cold sauces and dressings.
- Execute chilling processes to food products: Carry out chilling, freezing and cooling operation processes to food products such as fruit and vegetables, fish, meat, catering food. Prepare food products for extended periods of storage or half prepared food. Ensure safety and nutrition qualities of frozen goods and preserve products in accordance with specified temperatures.
- Prepare vegetable products for use in a dish: Make vegetable products, such as vegetables, pulses, fruits, grains and mushrooms for further use in dishes.
- Prepare desserts: Cook, bake, decorate and present hot and cold savoury and sweet pastry products, desserts and puddings.
- Store kitchen supplies: Keep delivered kitchen supplies for future use safely and hygienically according to guidelines.
- Prepare ready-made dishes: Get ready for serving snacks and sandwiches or heat up ready-made bar products if requested.
- Create a diet plan: Plan and implement a personalised diet plan to best improve an individual’s body movement.
- Control of expenses: Monitoring and maintaining effective cost controls, in regards to efficiencies, waste, overtime and staffing. Assessing excesses and strives for efficiency and productivity.
- Train employees: Lead and guide employees through a process in which they are taught the necessary skills for the perspective job. Organise activities aimed at introducing the work and systems or improving the performance of individuals and groups in organisational settings.
- Cook dairy products: Prepare eggs, cheese and other dairy products, combined with other products if necessary.
- Cook meat dishes: Prepare meat dishes, including poultry and game. The complexity of the dishes depend on the type of meat, the cuts being used and how they are combined with other ingredients in their preparation and cooking.
- Advise on preparation of diet food: Formulate and supervise nutrition schemes to meet special dietary needs, such as low-fat or low-cholesterol diets, or gluten free.
- Check deliveries on receipt: Control that all order details are recorded, that faulty items are reported and returned and that all paperwork is received and processed, according to the purchasing procedures.
- Prepare egg products for use in a dish: Make egg products for use in a dish by cleaning, cutting or using other methods.
ISCO group and title
5120 – Cooks
- Diet cook – ESCO
- Dietary Cook Job Description: Salary, Duties, & More – Climb the Ladder
- Featured image: Photo by Jason Briscoe on Unsplash