Wildlands Restoration Volunteers

Lead Cook


The Lead Cook (LC) is the designer and driver behind the camp set up, menu creation, feeding, cleaning, and caring for volunteers on a project.


The LC works with the WSL, the project leader, tool manager, and cook team members at different stages of the project. The LC goal is to create a healthy menu on budget, taking into consideration the number of helping hands, meat and vegetarian needs, and food safety while on the project.


  • Create a menu; delegate purchasing if there are cook team members willing to help.
  • Organize kitchen materials and supplies for the project from the tool shed.
  • Delegate pre-cooking or pre-cook food as appropriate for the project.
  • Delegate or undertake set up of hand-washing and dishwashing stations.
  • Ask the tool manager about water availability. (TM is responsible for water.)
  • Be available to help supervise loading of the tool truck before the project.
  • Delegate kitchen set up and food prep tasks during the project event.
  • Delegate and oversee clean up, pack up of camp kitchen materials, and disposal of recycling, trash, and compost.
  • Communicate with the Project Leader on timing of meals and, if requested, recruit extra volunteer help on site for hauling water, helping to put coolers back in the truck for bear safety, asking an early riser to make coffee, etc.
  • Coordinate the timeline of prep, cooking, and kitchen clean up on project day.


Background and qualifications

Most people desiring to be a Lead Cook should be a CTM first, to get the hang of how we do large group cooking. It is also helpful to have a background in and passion for food preparation (even if it’s just for their family) as well as a desire to camp.  If someone has extensive experience catering or backcountry cooking for large groups, they may be able to successfully jump to lead cook after reading the handbook and talking with staff.

Training and Preparation

Lead Cooks should be CTMs (Cook Team Members) first, unless they have prior experience in large-group cooking and have discussed their experience with staff. They should attend a cook training and thoroughly read the Cook Handbook created by WRV and tailored to WRV projects and mission. Lead Cooks self-select for projects although sometimes particular people are asked to join a project team given their experience.


This depends on the type of project, but typically six weeks are needed prior to project to coordinate disposal of the waste at the end of the project and providing leftovers to the next lead cook or CTMs for the next project on the calendar. The time commitment can range from 20 to 80 hours depending on the complexity, location, and length of the project.

Measures of success

  • The completion of a project menu within budget
  • Safe healthy execution of meals
  • Support WRV’s organizational mission and goals
  • Well-communicated task delegation
  • Satisfaction of volunteers and cook team members