How the Cooks Become Cooks

How the Cooks Become Cooks

Becoming a cook isn’t as simple as you may think. Most of the cooks come a long way to America not even knowing the position or job they will have. The journey to America may be tough and it’s probably going to be difficult to get a job in New York City but after all that the immigrants must go through another process to finally become a cook.

First of all, all Halal Carts must be licensed and registered. Sometimes the owner of the Cart may also be the cook. After speaking with several cooks, a clearer understanding of the process they go through is understood. There are many rules and regulations they must learn before becoming a cook. Also the cook must study and become experts in terms of the religious aspects in cooking the food.

The food industry survives on sales. To get more sales, chefs, farmers and other vendors often take their wares to the streets, selling their food out of mobile kiosks and stands. Doing so requires a food vendor’s license. With a food vendor’s license, you can sell prepared foods at local fairs, participate in farmer’s markets or sell hot lunches in popular areas. While the requirements to get a license vary slightly by state, most areas have a similar application process. When attaining a cooks license there are many qualifications and rules the cooks must follow. Some of the regulations as well as the license process include:

  • You must have a license, which is a photo ID badge, to run a food-selling business from a pushcart or truck, either year-round or seasonally. This license is called a Mobile Food Vendor Personal License. You must also have a decal permit for any pushcart or truck where food is sold. This decal permit is called a Mobile Food Vending Unit Permit.
  • Obtain a localized kitchen facility. Many states require that you have a permanent location to cook prepared foods. You’ll use this location as your primary address on your application. You can rent or lease space to build your own kitchen, or rent space inside a pre-existing restaurant.
  • Obtain a food vendor’s license application from your local health department. The cooks originally obtain an application by visiting the health department in person.
  • Complete the food vendor’s license application. You’ll need the name of your establishment, an address for a permanent kitchen facility and the owner’s personal information.
  • Submit the application and required fee to the health department at the address listed on the application. The fee varies by area.
  • Complete the health inspection for your kitchen facility. If you build your own kitchen facility, a health inspector will complete an inspection of the area before approving your application. If you rent space in an existing restaurant, you can work under the restaurant’s license.
  • Complete the health inspection for your kiosk or mobile food cart. A health inspector will check key items such as heating and cooling of foods, cleaning of utensils and proper storage to verify you meet local health and safety codes.
  •  Reapply for your food vendor’s license as needed. A food vendor’s license may expire automatically in some areas.
  • For more information about license and permits click here. 

One example of a Cook that went through the struggle and process of moving to America and obtaining a license is cook Mr Ahmed. Mr. Ahmed  applied for a food vendor’s license, took a required health and safety class, bought a used cart and took it for an inspection by city officials. (The health department inspects carts at least once a year, and more frequently if a violation is reported. He still needed a food-vending permit, though, and because of a cap on permits imposed in the 1980s, only 4,000 or so circulate. He acquired his from a permit owner who has charged him and his partner $25,000 for two-year leases (for a permit that cost the owner just $200), which they are still paying off.

Over time there became a limit to the amount of carts that are able to cook and sell food.  Organized by the Street Vendor Project, a nonprofit group that is part of the Urban Justice Center and offers legal representation to city vendors, they hoped to pressure the City Council to pass legislation introduced last fall that would double the number of food-vending permits, gradually, over the next seven years. This would then lead to more carts, more cooks and more happy customers.

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