Exam Bulletin - Cook Specialist I (2185)

Department of Forestry & Fire Protection

Multiple Testing Departments. Please see list of Departments.

Exam Code: EX-2689

Examination Plans Included:


Final Filing Date: Applications are accepted on a continuous basis.

Classification Details

COOK SPECIALIST I: $3,581.00 - $4,388.00 per Month

View the COOK SPECIALIST I classification specification.

Application Instructions

This examination is administered on a continuous basis with quarterly cutoff dates every three (3) months. Please see the cutoff dates below for FY 24-25: 

*If your application is received after the cutoff date, it will be retained and considered for the next examination administration.

Upcoming Filing Cutoff Dates:

  • 7/12/2024
  • 10/11/2024
  • 1/13/2025
  • 4/11/2025

Examination/Employment Application (STD 678) must be received or postmarked by the filing date indicated above. Applications postmarked, personally delivered or received via interoffice mail after the filing date will be processed in the next group.

Dates printed on Mobile Bar Codes, such as the Quick Response (QR) Codes available at the USPS, are not considered Postmark dates for the purpose of determining timely filing of an application.

If using the United States Postal Service (USPS) for delivery, there is no guarantee that your application will be postmarked and arrive by the final filing date. If your application does not have a postmark and arrives after the final filing date, your application may not be accepted into the examination. Therefore, to ensure timely delivery of your application, it is recommended that you use either parcel service, or certified mail. Using one of these options will provide proof the application was sent prior to the final filing date.

Who Should Apply:

The information below will help you determine which classification(s) is(are) appropriate for you. Applicants must meet the Minimum Qualifications as stated on this bulletin to compete in this examination.

Open and Open, Non-Promotional Examination(s):


Please Note:

  • All applicants MUST meet the education and/or experience requirements by the cutoff date in order to be considered for that administration.
  • Applicants who have not passed probation in this classification are encouraged to apply.
  • Part-time or full-time jobs, regardless of whether paid or volunteer positions, and inside or outside California state service will count towards experience. 

For all Classifications, once you have participated in any of the following examinations, you may not recompete for 6 months:

Exam Code(s):


For COOK SPECIALIST I, once you have participated in any of the following examinations, you may not recompete for 6 months:

Exam Code(s):

  • EX-02689

How To Apply:

Submit an Examination/Employment Application (STD 678) to apply for this examination.

Electronic applications can be submitted through your account at www.CalCareers.ca.gov.

You may apply by mail to:

  • Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE)
    Attention: Examination Unit
    710 Riverpoint Ct.
    West Sacramento, CA 95605

Indicate the Examination Code and Classification(s) on your Examination/Employment Application (STD 678).

You may drop off your application and any applicable or required documents at:

  • Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE)
    Attention: Examination Unit
    710 Riverpoint Ct.
    West Sacramento, CA 95605
    8:30 AM - 4:00 PM

Indicate the Examination Code and Classification(s) on your Examination/Employment Application (STD 678). All applicants must provide proof of identification. Accepted forms of identification are: 1) a photo identification card or 2) two forms of signed identification.

Please note the following:

1.) A State Application (STD 678) is REQUIRED and must be submitted.

2.) All applicants must include "from" and "to" employment dates (month/day/year), time base, and applicable civil service class titles on their STD 678. Applications received without this information may be rejected.

3.) If qualifying under Minimum Qualifications (MQ) Pattern II, you MUST also include a copy of your unofficial transcripts or certificate(s) showing proof of coursework/completion or training.



Special Testing Arrangements:

If you require assistance or alternative testing arrangements due to a disability, indicate on your application that you need reasonable accommodation. You will be contacted by a representative of the testing department to make the necessary arrangements. If you have not been contacted by the time you receive notification of testing, please contact the testing department listed in the Contact section of this bulletin.

If you are unable to submit your application or complete the test due to a disability, please contact the testing department listed in the Contact section of this bulletin.

Minimum Qualifications

All applicants must meet the education and/or experience requirements as stated on this exam bulletin to be accepted to the examination.


Either I

One year of experience in the California state service performing the duties of a Food Service Technician I.


One year of experience in assisting a cook in the preparation and cooking of a varied menu (Full-time training in a recognized trade school or training program for cooks may be substituted for the required experience on the basis of one month of school attendance being equal to two months of experience).

Position Description


Under supervision, to assist in preparing, cooking, and dispensing food for the residents and employees of a State Institution; to care for culinary equipment, supplies, and work areas; to work with employees and helpers from the resident population; may instruct, lead, or supervise inmates, wards, or resident workers; and do other related work.


Performs the less responsible and less skilled tasks required in preparing, cooking, and dispensing various food items; relieves the cooks, bakers, or meat cutters of routine operations such as tending steam kettles, watching, turning, and stirring food; supervises clean-up operations and such other duties as slicing bread, weighing ingredients, and cutting and grinding meat; cleans and maintains culinary utensils, equipment, and work areas with the assistance of employees and helpers from the resident population; participates in on-the-job or classroom instruction for cooks; may supervise the work of helpers from the resident population; as required, acts for the Cook Specialist II, Baker I, or Butcher-Meat Cutter I in his/her absence.


This is the first working level in the Cook series. Employees in the class of Cook Specialist I normally work under the supervision of a Cook Specialist II performing the less responsible and less skilled duties required in the preparation, cooking, and dispensing of food. Employees in this class may be used in detached living units for short order food preparation and supervision of food serving by residents.

Employees in this class who perform responsible cooking duties either through a combination of duties or rotation may also supervise such activities as the cleaning of cooking pots and equipment in a central pot washing room, the preparation of fruits and vegetables in a central vegetable room, or the cleanup and other less responsible tasks in the kitchen, bake shop, or butcher shop, such as bread slicing, weighing ingredients, and the more routine meat cutting and grinding. However, if these duties are performed on a permanent full-time basis and not in combination with or rotated with more responsible cooking duties, such duties are allocated to the class Food Service Technician II. 

Through training or on-the-job work experience employees are expected to develop skill in quantity cooking as preparation for advancement to Cook Specialist II.

Employees in the class of Food Service Technician I in the kitchen, bake shop, or meat unit perform the more routine tasks, and clean and maintain utensils, equipment, and work areas.


Sympathetic understanding of and willingness to work with the resident population of a State institution; personal cleanliness; good sense of smell and taste; and freedom from communicable diseases.

Examination Information

This examination consists of the following component(s):

Component OrderComponent TypeComponent DuePercentage of Final Score
1Supplemental ReportAfter Acceptance100%

A final score of 70% must be attained to be placed on the eligible list.

Training and Experience (T&E) Evaluation – Weighted 100% of the final score.

The examination will consist solely of a Training and Experience Evaluation. Applicants will receive their score upon completion of the Training and Experience Evaluation process.

*Please note the following:

  • Accepted candidates will receive the examination link at the email address provided on their STD 678 (State Application) approximately one month after the cutoff date. 
  • This examination is administered online, please do NOT submit responses to the examination questions via US mail or email. 
  • This examination is available 24/7 during the open testing window. Candidates are given one attempt to take this exam. 


Here is a list of suggested resources to have available prior to taking the exam:

Employment History: Employment dates, job titles, organization names and addresses, names of supervisors or persons who can verify your job responsibilities, and phone numbers of persons listed above.

Education: School names and addresses, degrees earned, dates attended, courses taken (verifiable on an included transcript), persons or office who can verify education, and phone numbers of persons or offices listed above.

Training: Class titles, certifications received, names of persons who can verify your training, and phone numbers of persons listed above.


(*This is only a preview of the examination questions*)

1.) You have just received an order of raw chicken from your distributor. List and describe at least four steps you would take to ensure food safety standards are met.

2.) You are tasked with cleaning and sanitizing the kitchen's meat slicer. Describe at least four procedures you would follow to ensure proper sanitation.

3.) You are tasked with cooking fried potatoes for breakfast service. Describe at least four steps you would take to ensure the potatoes are prepared, cooked, and served properly.

4.) A guest approaches you and states they have dietary restrictions. Provide at least four steps you would take to fulfill their requirements.

In addition to evaluating the applicant's relative knowledge, skill and ability as demonstrated by quality and breadth of education/experience, emphasis in each test component will be on measuring competitively, relative to job demands, each applicant's:

Knowledge of: 

Kitchen sanitation and safety measures; food handling sanitation; principles, procedures, and equipment used in the storage, care, preparation, cooking, and dispensing of food in large quantity; methods and procedures used in the operation, cleaning, and care of utensils, equipment, and work areas.

Ability to:

Complete satisfactorily a training program in the preparation and cooking of all food groups; follow directions; keep records; analyze situations accurately and adopt an effective course of action; communicate at a level appropriate to the classification.

Eligible List Information

A Servicewide Open eligible list for the COOK SPECIALIST I Classification will be established for:

  • State of California

The names of successful competitors will be merged onto the eligible list(s) in order of final score regardless of test date. Eligibility expires 12 months after it is established. Applicants must then retake the examination to reestablish eligibility.

Resulting Eligibility List(s) will be used to fill vacancies throughout the State of California.

Veterans' Preference will be granted for this examination. Veterans' Preference is an assistance program for veterans, veteran widows and widowers, and spouses of 100% disabled veterans who seek employment with the state. Veterans' Preference is also extended to currently serving military members nearing their retirement or separation date.

You are not eligible for Veteran's Preference if you are:

  • A veteran who has been dishonorably discharged or released.
  • A veteran, widow or widower of a veteran, or spouse of a 100 percent disabled veteran who currently has permanent civil service status. (Permanent civil service status is the status of an employee who is lawfully retained in his/her position after completion of the applicable probationary period. This does not include limited term).

Veterans' Preference is codified in Government Code Sections 18973 – 18979.

Veteran status is verified by the California Department of Human Resources (CalHR). Directions to apply for Veterans' Preference are on the Veterans' Preference Application (Std. Form 1093), which is available at www.CalCareers.ca.gov, and the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Career Credits are not granted for examination(s) administered on an Open basis or a Promotional basis.

Testing Departments

  • Department of Forestry & Fire Protection
  • State of California

Contact Information

Questions regarding this examination should be directed to:

CAL FIRE Examination Unit
710 Riverpoint Ct.
West Sacramento, CA 95605
Phone: (916) 894-9580

CAL FIRE Reasonable Accommodation Coordinator
710 Riverpoint Ct.
West Sacramento, CA 95605
Phone: (916) 894-9570 ext. Option 3

California Relay Service: 1-800-735-2929 (TTY), 1-800-735-2922 (Voice). TTY is a Telecommunications Device for the Deaf, and is reachable only from phones equipped with a TTY Device.

Equal Opportunity Employer

The State of California is an equal opportunity employer to all, regardless of age, ancestry, color, disability (mental and physical), exercising the right to family care and medical leave, gender, gender expression, gender identity, genetic information, marital status, medical condition, military or veteran status, national origin, political affiliation, race, religious creed, sex (includes pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding and related medical conditions), and sexual orientation.

Drug Free Statement

It is an objective of the State of California to achieve a drug-free State work place. Any applicant for State employment will be expected to behave in accordance with this objective, because the use of illegal drugs is inconsistent with the law of the State, the rules governing civil service, and the special trust placed in public servants.

General Information

Examination and/or Employment Application (STD 678) forms are available at the California Department of Human Resources, local offices of the Employment Development Department, and through your CalCareer Account (www.CalCareers.ca.gov).

If you meet the requirements stated on this examination bulletin, you may take this examination, which is competitive. Possession of the entrance requirements does not assure a place on the eligible list. Your performance in the examination described in this bulletin will be rated against a predetermined job-related rating, and all applicants who pass will be ranked according to their scores.

Department of Forestry & Fire Protection reserves the right to revise the examination plan to better meet the needs of the service, if the circumstances under which this examination was planned change. Such revision will be in accordance with civil service laws and rules and all applicants will be notified.

General Qualifications: Applicants must possess essential personal qualifications including integrity, initiative, dependability, good judgment, the ability to work cooperatively with others, and a state of health consistent with the ability to perform the assigned duties of the class. A medical examination may be required. In open examinations, investigation may be made of employment records and personal history and fingerprinting may be required.

Eligible Lists: Eligible lists established by competitive examination, regardless of date, must be used in the following order: 1) sub-divisional promotional, 2) departmental promotional, 3) multi-departmental promotional, 4) service-wide promotional, 5) departmental open, 6) open. When there are two lists of the same kind, the older must be used first. Eligible lists will expire in one to four years unless otherwise stated on the bulletin.

High School Equivalence: Equivalence to completion of the 12th grade may be demonstrated in any one of the following ways: 1) passing the General Education Development (GED) Test; 2) completion of 12 semester units of college-level work; 3) certification from the State Department of Education, a local school board, or high school authorities that the competitor is considered to have education equivalent to graduation from high school; or 4) for clerical and accounting classes, substitution of business college work in place of high school on a year-for-year basis.

Accepted applicants must provide proof of identification at each in-person test session. Acceptable identification consists of a photo identification card or two forms of signed identification.

Application Methods:
Electronic (Your CalCareer Account)
By Mail
In Person (see bulletin for details)
Alternate Application Process

While we recommend that you utilize your CalCareer Account to take advantage of all the tools available, you may choose to apply for this examination without using your account. In this case, print and complete the Exam Application Package Checklist and include it if you submit a hard copy application.

Exam Application Package Checklist

Blank Application Form (STD678)

Accommodation Request (STD679)