The Cook’s Tale is about an apprentice, Peter, who works in a food store. He’s a bit of a party guy, and often skips down to the local tavern to have a few drinks. He also gambles with his friends, goes to parties and dances, and associates with somewhat less-than-honorable girls. Peter uses money from the shop when he gambles, and his master always scolds him for skipping out and taking all the money. After this has gone on for a while, the master decides that since Peter might corrupt other people who work at the store with his contemptible ways, he must fire Peter. Peter then takes up residence with one of his pals, whose wife happens to be a prostitute, and that’s all Chaucer wrote of the Cook’s tale.

According to the Cook's Prologue to the tale, it is meant to be a humorous story, although it is told in a fairly matter-of-fact way. If Chaucer had finished it, it looks like it could have become a moralistic story, with something bad happening to Peter at the end because he was out getting drunk, or something along those lines.

The Cook’s point in telling this tale might have been that too much alcohol and other such habits are bad for you – if Chaucer had written the rest of it. As it stands, it seems at least that the Cook did not endorse Peter’s lifestyle, since, in the tale, he loses his job because of it. Also, the Cook did not describe Peter’s actions in a favorable light, another indication that he disapproved of that type of lifestyle. However, as he pointed out before he began the tale, it was meant to be humorous, and so was probably only told to entertain.

Chaucer’s description of the Cook in the Prologue is very short, consisting of only about ten lines. What he did say about him is that he was a very good cook and made some foods, such as blancmange, especially well. He also mentioned fleetingly that the Cook had “an ulcer on his knee” (line 390). The fact that he was an excellent cook may relate to the story because the Cook may once have been young and foolish like Peter, and later shaped up and refined his skills to become top-notch, which is how Chaucer might have finished it. The ulcer could have been the result of an unhealthy lifestyle previously, which would also support the idea that the Cook's tale was his autobiography. Also, Chaucer used physical traits of his travellers to denote ugliness in their personalities, so a blemish such as a visible ulcer may have been meant to signify an unsavory character, or perhaps simply someone who has undergone hardships.

There is not much of the Cook’s own personality or interests shown in the tale he told, but in the Prologue to the tale, he was very lighthearted, joking with Harry Bailey and the Miller. He seemed to regard the tale he was about to tell as a great joke, showing that he was a good-humored person. He also mentioned that he was “only a poor man” (page 142), so he probably lived fairly hand-to-mouth. There is nothing much else about him shown in his tale, except that he does not approve of wild lifestyles.