Occ. Code 3102600




New York State Department of Civil Service


Classification Standard




Head Cooks have charge of the food preparation and cooking in a large institution kitchen. Incumbents supervise and direct the activities of a kitchen staff and may at times personally perform food preparation and cooking activities.


Positions in this class are found in the largest institutions in the State and as such the greatest number of positions are found in the Office of Mental Health, the Office of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities and the Department of Correctional Services.




Head Cooks oversee the operations of large institutional kitchens preparing 1,500 or more meals per day. Incumbents determine the amount of food to be prepared according to the planned menu, requisition food supplies, inspect kitchen areas to insure that preparation, utilization, cooking and sanitary procedures are observed and provide the necessary training to the kitchen staff. They have responsibility to meet ICF/MR and JCAHO Accreditation Standards in the facilities of the Offices of Mental Health and Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities. Incumbents also perform food preparation and cooking activities, maintain daily time records, prepare accident reports and work repair orders.


Cooks are typically supervised by a Head Cook in a large institutional kitchen and are responsible for the preparation and cooking of an entire meal on an assigned shift or for a specific type cooking such as range cooking or dessert cooking. Cooks may be the highest level position involved in food preparation and cooking in a smaller institutional kitchen and/or perform similar activities to those described for Head Cook in a smaller setting such as a hostel, a half-way house or a camp.


Nutrition Services Administrators 1 and 2 are distinguished from Head Cook in that they are responsible for both food service and dietetic operations in an institution serving 1,500 or more meals per day.  Nutrition Services Administrators 1 and 2 plan and prepare regular and special menus, estimate food requirements, order equipment and food supplies and inspect kitchens to insure that proper preparation, cooking, utilization and sanitary procedures are followed.


Dietitians 1 and 2 are responsible for consulting with physicians in planning for the special dietary needs of State wards and for planning and supervising the preparation and deliverance of the special diets and menus to the wards.




Schedules the preparation and cooking of meals in a large institutional kitchen.


-          Determines types and amount of food to be prepared for each meal according to menus and special instructions or events.


-          Requisitions or arranges for delivery of required foodstuffs from central warehouses, suppliers or storage areas.


-          Arranges cooking schedule for various types of food so that all are ready at the specified time.


-          Schedules necessary kitchen staff to prepare and cook meals.


Insures that utilization and sanitary levels are observed in kitchen and storage areas.


-          Inspects food preparation and cooking areas to insure sanitary conditions are observed.


-          Maintains records of food temperatures to insure that prepared foods are safe and palatable.


-          Inspects storage areas for evidence of vermin, insects and mold and arranges for their eradication if present.


-        Inspects dish, pot and pan cleaning procedures to insure utensils are sanitized after each use.


-          Oversees cleaning and sanitizing of kitchen and storage areas on a periodic and as necessary basis to insure sanitary conditions are met.


-          Inspects food for deterioration and discards all tainted food.


-          Insures all refuse is removed promptly and properly to proper areas.


-          Inventories food inventories on a periodic basis and recommends changes in menu so that food is used before spoiling.


-          Supervises work activity in the ingredient rooms.


Supervises and provides training to all members of kitchen staff.


-          Assigns kitchen staff to various shifts.


-          Provides oral and written instructions regarding the food to be prepared, the manner in which it is to be prepared and any special requirements.


-          Inspects food preparation and cooking procedures to insure that sanitary conditions are observed and all food is utilized.


-          Demonstrates proper preparation and cooking procedures.


-          Arranges for special food service training where available.


May perform any of the activities and tasks described in the classification standard for Cook, Occ. Code 3102300.




Head Cooks have frequent oral communications with members of the kitchen staff providing instructions, information and advice regarding food preparation and cooking procedures and proper sanitary and cleaning procedures. Incumbents also have oral and written communications with their supervisors and dietetic staff regarding the preparation of special diets, changing menus to utilize food on hand and requesting necessary foodstuffs and equipment. They also have occasional oral communications with program staff and residents regarding food preparation and distribution procedures.




Head Cooks supervise a kitchen staff of Cooks, Food Service Workers 1‑3, and/or in some cases a Baker and inmate workers. Incumbents make staff assignments, provide oral and written instructions, inspect work to insure that instructions and sanitary conditions are observed, provide training and evaluate staff performance.


Most Head Cooks in the Office of Mental Health and the Office of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities are supervised by Nutrition Services Administrators 2 who develop and implement standards and procedures for the food service operation, plan menus, provide standard State recipes, inspect operation for compliance with sanitary, utilization and accreditation standards, requisition food and arrange for staff training.


In those cases where a Head Cook is the highest level position involved in food service operation, an incumbent is typically supervised by a facility director or administrative position who reviews the food service operation as to quality of food, utilization of resources and adherence to agency operating and sanitary procedures.




Head Cooks use all of the cooking utensils and equipment found in a kitchen; such as blenders, bowls, grinders, kettles, measuring devices, mixers, ovens, slicers, etc.




-          Working knowledge of recipes, methods and procedures used in the preparation and cooking of large quantities of food.


-          Working knowledge of employing, regulatory and accrediting agencies; sanitary requirements concerning food preparation, cooking and storage.


-          Working knowledge of methods and procedures for the storage of food and leftover food.


-          Working knowledge of the operation, cleaning and care of utensils, equipment and kitchen areas.


-          Working knowledge of portion control requirements of agency dietary regulations.


-          Basic knowledge of comparative nutritional values of foods within a food group.


-          Working knowledge of the principles and practices of supervision.


-          Basic knowledge of food requisitioning procedures and policies.


-          Basic knowledge of formalized training programs available for food service operations.


-          Ability to understand and follow written and oral instructions.


-          Ability to use and manipulate kitchen utensils and equipment.


-          Ability to perceive differences in form, color and appearance of food to determine completion of cooking time or deterioration and contamination of food.


-          Ability to communicate instructions, information and advice effectively to fellow workers.


-          Ability to conduct in-service training for kitchen staff.


-          Ability to determine amount of food to prepare to meet menu and dietary requirements.


-          Ability to maintain records of resources used.


-          Ability to adjust menus when shortages of specified foods occur in the absence of the Nutrition Services Administrator 2.




Five years of experience in large scale cooking, two years of which must have included regular supervision of subordinate employees.






Reviewed:  5/04








NOTE: Classification Standards illustrate the nature, extent and scope of duties and responsibilities of the classes they describe. Standards cannot and do not include all of the work that might be appropriately performed by a class. The minimum qualifications above are those which were required for appointment at the time the Classification Standard was written. Please contact the Division of Staffing Services for current information on minimum qualification requirements for appointment or examination.