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Army Air Force Navy


Non-Commissioned Member | Full Time, Part Time

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As a member of the military, Cooks prepare nutritious food items and meals for Canadian Armed Forces members and National Defence employees.

Their responsibilities are to:

  • Prepare and serve meals that range from cafeteria-style menus to formal multi-course meals for military and civilian dignitaries
  • Assist in the handling and control of food and non-food supplies
  • Practice workplace health and safety procedures
  • Provide for Religious and Spiritual dietary accomodations
  • Manage food safety and Defence
  • Operate, clean and maintain food services equipment and facilities

Work environment

A Cook may work in a variety of environments within Canada, or overseas on deployments. The majority of all Cooks are employed at bases and wings while the others serve with land-based operational units or onboard ships and submarines.

If you chose a career in the Regular Force, upon completion of all required training, you will be assigned to your first base. While there is some flexibility with regards to postings (relocations), accommodations can’t always be made, and therefore, you can likely expect to move at some point in your career. However, if you decide to join the Primary Reserve Force, you will do so through a specific Reserve unit. Outside of training, your chosen Reserve unit will be your workplace on a part time basis, and you will not be obligated to relocate to a different base. As part of the Primary Reserve Force, you typically work one night per week and some weekends as a minimum with possibilities of full-time employment.

Career Overview





CORPORAL MELISSA MILLER: I’m Corporal Melissa Miller from Calgary, Alberta. I’m a cook posted to CFB Comox.

Cooks provide nutritional sustenance to keep the Canadian Armed Forces moving – three meals a day, seven days a week all year long in a wide variety of conditions and settings. From operations at home like firefighting and flood relief – to deployments overseas such as antiterrorism and peace support operations, military personnel need nutritious meals to be able to do their jobs. Cooks are the highly trained culinary experts who prepare almost 10 million meals every year.

MILLER: I love cooking for huge amounts of people. I’m actually terrible at cooking for two. There’s leftovers in my fridge for days.

Cooks gather nutritious ingredients each day to plan meals for soldiers, sailors and aviators. They may work in base kitchens across Canada or in the field in a mobile kitchen trailer during exercises and deployments, or onboard naval warships and submarines.

MILLER: Being a cook in the military is never the same day twice. One day you could be cooking out in the field, the next day you could be doing a VIP dinner or a mess function and you’re putting out 5-star food for people vs. the mass production of a buffet line.

Healthy, great-tasting food brings people together, no matter what the situation. And cooks are there to make it happen – they take great pride in preparing exceptional meals for everyone they feed.

MILLER: Seeing all of the happy troops that are full and ready to go back out into the field is great. We provide the morale for the military. We feed everybody.

MILLER: Not everybody can cook a meal for 500 people and say “I cooked that.” You know, that’s a skill that is definitely very cool and I know my parents are in awe when I cook Christmas dinner and it takes me an hour-and-a-half and they’re like: “We start the turkey at 5 AM – why are you putting yours in now?” It’s just what I know how to do.

Once fully trained, cooks are posted to a unit within the Royal Canadian Navy, Royal Canadian Air Force, the Canadian Army or Canadian Special Operations Forces. During their first two years, they’ll complete an on-the-job training package designed to help them continue to develop their culinary skills.

MILLER: Definitely, there’s challenges there. You’re going to learn all different aspects of cooking – from some butchery, you’re going to learn how to bake, you’re going to learn how to make salads, sauces. And you have to learn how to make it taste good, too.

Cooks work in fully operational kitchens that serve 50 to 2,000 diners or more for each meal. They are passionate about their craft, open-minded, and have a profound love of all things food. They take pride in creating savoury meals that people truly appreciate and enjoy. Cooks are of vital importance to the Canadian Armed Forces and provide nourishment for all personnel as well as civilian dignitaries. They bring people together and create a sense of comfort to those who serve at home and abroad.

MILLER: I decided to join the Canadian Forces because it looked like a great adventure. My husband had been in the military for about 9 years – he was always away on adventures so I wanted to get in on that action.
MILLER: You need to care – you need to put the love into food ‘cause if you don’t put the love, people can taste the difference. And I know that sounds crazy, but you can taste the difference in food that’s been prepared by somebody that loves their job and loves what they do vs. somebody that’s just doing it because they need a paycheque.




Related Civilian Occupations

  • Institutional or Restaurant Cook
  • Baker
  • Food Services Instructor in high schools or colleges
  • Food Services Manager or Supervisor (Food Service Establishment)


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 Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) physical fitness standard; as a result, the training is physically demanding.

Learn more about Basic Training here.

Cooks attend a training course at the Canadian Forces Logistics Training Center (CFLTC) in Borden, Ontario. Based on a combination of theory, demonstration and practical hands-on experience, Cooks will learn the following basic skills:

  • Cooking terminology, weights and measures
  • Conversions and equivalencies
  • Introductory baking and meat preparation
  • Small and large quantity cooking of a full range of products
  • Food safety practices and techniques
  • Food service standards and basic food cost controls
  • Fire and safety precautions
  • Equipment & facility maintenance

Cooks may be offered the opportunity to develop specialized skills through formal courses and on-the-job training. Specialty courses include:

  • Instructional techniques
  • Red Seal certification
  • Submarine service
  • Flight Steward
  • Food & Beverage Manager certification
  • National Food Safety Training Program

Entry plans

The minimum required education to apply for this position is the completion of the provincial requirements for Grade 10 or Secondary 4 in Quebec, including Grade 10 Workplace math or math 414 / CTS 4 in Quebec.

The ideal candidate already have a college diploma or certificate 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.

Foreign education may be accepted.

Non-Commissioned Member Subsidized Training and Education Plan(NCM STEP)

Because this position requires specialty training, the Forces will pay successful recruits to attend the diploma program at an approved Canadian college. NCM-STEP 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 Forces for a period of time. If you choose to apply to this program, you must apply both to the Forces and the appropriate college.

Learn more about our Paid Education programs here.

Part time options

This position is available for part-time employment with the Army, Navy and Air Force at certain locations across Canada. Reserve Force members usually serve part time at a Reserve Force Division 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 Forces 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.

Find a Recruiting Centre

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 is conducted at the Canadian Forces Logistics Training Centre (CFLTC) in Borden, Ontario. Following this, they further gain practical experience through an 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 92.8% of Regular Force rates of pay, receive a reasonable benefits package and may qualify to contribute to a pension plan.