Exam Bulletin - Cook Specialist II (2184)

Department of Forestry & Fire Protection

Multiple Testing Departments. Please see list of Departments.

Exam Code: EX-2990

Examination Plans Included:


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

Classification Details

COOK SPECIALIST II: $3,996.00 - $4,907.00 per Month

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

Exam Code(s):

  • EX-02990

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 & 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 using education/training, you may also need to include a copy of your unofficial transcripts or certificate(s) showing proof of coursework/completion of 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.



Two years of experience in the California state service performing the duties of a Cook Specialist I.


Three years of experience as a cook in one or a combination of the following:


1. Preparing food for at least 250 persons a meal with experience at the various stations, not less than six months of which shall have been in charge of the work of kitchen helpers or others doing similar work. or


2. Personally preparing complete breakfasts, lunches, and dinners for 50 or more persons a meal. (Short-order cooking experience is not considered qualifying.) (Full-time training in a recognized trade school for cooks and bakers may be substituted for not more than two years of either type of the required experience on the basis of one month of such school attendance being equal to two months of experience.)

Position Description


Under supervision, to prepare, cook, and dispense food for the residents and employees of a State institution; to care for culinary equipment, supplies, and work areas; to supervise, instruct, and work with employees and helpers from the resident population; may instruct, lead, or supervise inmates, wards, or resident workers; and do other related work.


Prepares, cooks, and dispenses soups, sauces, meats, eggs, dairy products, vegetables, salads, salad dressing, fruits, pastries, desserts, breads, and beverages; cleans and maintains culinary utensils and equipment and the working area with the assistance of helpers; assigns work and gives instruction and training to employees and helpers from the resident population, evaluates their performance, and takes or recommends appropriate action; may plan menus; inspects personnel and working areas and maintains safety and sanitation standards; reports on the work progress of assistants; keeps records; as required, requisitions, receives, inspects, stores, and inventories supplies; and acts for the Supervising Cook in his absence.


Cooks in large institutions normally work with other cooks as a part of a shift team. Different items of food are prepared separately in large quantities and specialized fixed equipment such as steam- jacketed kettles and revolving ovens are used.

In small institutions, the cook on each shift usually prepares an entire meal with the assistance of helpers and may plan menus. Equipment used may be either kitchen ranges and portable utensils or specialized fixed equipment such as steam-jacketed kettles and revolving ovens.

Employees in the next higher class of Supervising Cook I assign work, supervise, and give instruction to culinary employees and helpers from the resident population.

Employees in the next lower class of Cook Specialist I assist the cook, baker, or butcher-meat cutter by performing the less responsible and less skilled work required in preparing, cooking, and dispensing food. Through training and experience, Cook Specialists I are expected to develop skill in quantity cooking.


Sympathetic understanding of and willingness to work with resident population of State institutions; 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*)

You are tasked with receiving an order of frozen, refrigerated, and dry foods. List in detail at least four processes you would follow to ensure proper food safety.

2.) As a Cook Specialist II you are 45 minutes from mealtime when you are informed there will be twice as many guests dining at your facility. Describe at least four steps you would take to ensure all guests are provided meals.

3.) You receive a delivery of perishable items that includes beef, chicken, bread, vegetables, pork, and fish. As the Cook Specialist II, describe at least five steps you would take to ensure proper walk-in storage procedures are followed.

4.) A dining guest informs you of their gluten intolerance. Describe at least five steps you must take to ensure their dietary safety.

5.)  As a Cook Specialist II you notice one of the kitchen staff is not completing their daily tasks in a timely manner. List at least three steps you would take to ensure the tasks are completed.

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:

Principles, procedures, and equipment used in the storage, care, preparation, cooking, and dispensing of food in large quantity; kitchen sanitation and safety measures used in the operation, cleaning, and care of utensils, equipment, and work areas; food handling sanitation; food values as well as nutritional and economical substitutions within food groups; principles of effective supervision and instructing and working with assistants and helpers from the resident population; food accounting and keeping records and preparing reports.

Ability to:

Communicate at a level required for successful job performance; prepare and cook all food groups and use appropriate equipment; judge food quality; plan work schedule and prepare and follow menus, recipes, and formulas; determine food quantities necessary for groups of varying size; instruct and work with assistants and helpers from the resident population; keep records and prepare reports; analyze situations accurately and adopt an effective course of action.

Eligible List Information

A Servicewide Open eligible list for the COOK SPECIALIST II 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 Accommodations 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)