WASHINGTON – While only a handful of celebrity chefs are in the limelight on network or cable TV, the US restaurant industry employs more than 2 million behind-the-scenes cooks who help prepare meals and snacks for 130 million foodservice patrons on an average day.

Cooks play a crucial role in every kitchen. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, "cooks measure, mix and cook ingredients according to recipes, using a variety of equipment, including pots, pans, cutlery, ovens, broilers, grills, slicers, grinders and blenders" and work in all varieties of restaurant and foodservice locations. The National Restaurant Association projects the industry will add 193,000 cook positions in the next decade.

Eli Stoltzfus, BLS economist, analyzes this occupation and its compensation in a recent article on the BLS Web site, including how wages for full- and part-time cooks vary by type and geographic location. The average wage for full-time institution and cafeteria cooks is higher than the average wage for all cooks. Full-time cooks in Honolulu, Hawaii, make $3.43 more per hour than the national average.