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View Full Version : Stagiaire - Success, Failure and what not...



Gravy Power
03-14-2013, 08:43 PM
I'm currently entering my second year of Culinary school, though I'm about 70% done with the cirriculum. As I enter my last three quarters, I'm trying to secure at least one high-end opportunity.

Where all have you been? What's the most ambitious place you've tried to get into? I'd love to hear success stories, as well as failures. As well as any tips one might have. I imagine timing and luck can play a large role.

Gravy Power
03-14-2013, 09:57 PM
I should add, I really want to Stage with Salty, and I've tried in the past but the timing has never worked out. Would love to absorb some of his knife knowledge.

andygraybeal
03-20-2013, 09:34 AM
I should add, I really want to Stage with Salty, and I've tried in the past but the timing has never worked out. Would love to absorb some of his knife knowledge.

Forgive me, I've never been to school.. and I'm a prep monkey... what does "staging" mean?


EDIT:
http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/stagiaire -- intern.

Igasho
03-20-2013, 09:55 AM
Salty Gravy....I like the ring that has :P

Chefdog
03-20-2013, 11:07 AM
I would say not to focus too much on finding a place in the "best" restaurant, but instead finding a classically trained chef who's willing and able to take you on and teach. Getting into a 3 star michelin place doesn't do you a whole lot of good if you're turning potatoes and picking herbs all day every day. But working alongside a motivated, well trained chef who wants to teach you what he's learned, even in a no-star restaurant, will serve you much better in the long run.

I'm certainly not saying there's no value in striving for the best, just that there will be plenty of time to explore the top tier later. Focus on the fundamentals early, and you'll be better off when the 3 star opportunity arises.

I talk to plenty of students who went for the gusto straight out of school and end up feeling like cheap slave labor on their exterships. In contrast, a student from my last class chose a small, relatively unknown place with a chef who worked at the French Laundry and is extremely happy with the experience.

skiajl6297
03-20-2013, 11:13 AM
Gravy - where are you located/interested in being located?

K-Fed
03-20-2013, 11:18 AM
I would say not to focus too much on finding a place in the "best" restaurant, but instead finding a classically trained chef who's willing and able to take you on and teach. Getting into a 3 star michelin place doesn't do you a whole lot of good if you're turning potatoes and picking herbs all day every day. But working alongside a motivated, well trained chef who wants to teach you what he's learned, even in a no-star restaurant, will serve you much better in the long run.

I'm certainly not saying there's no value in striving for the best, just that there will be plenty of time to explore the fancy and trendy later. Focus on the fundamentals early, and you'll be better off when the 3 star opportunity arises.
+1 to this for sure. I never went to school so alongside self education. Text books, cook books and the like I learned a lot of what I know from chefs that were willing to take the time to give me the low down on what they were doing. That being said I'd love to spend a week with salty as well. Theory too.

Chuckles
03-20-2013, 11:32 AM
I would stay away from places that rely heavily on sous vide and other "modern" techniques. If you learn that stuff before you're solid on classic techniques it could easily become a crutch and limit your options down the line when trend chasing may become less important than a quality position or buying diapers.

hambone.johnson
03-20-2013, 11:32 AM
Ive worked in two Micheline star restaurants, both later in my career, and im greatful i have done that opposed to right out the gate from school. its best to get a base and find a great chef who will learned and work with you, stay with that person for 2+ years and then move on to something else. Then later you can move on to some places you really aspire to. I see kids come in to the places ive worked totally green and they expect to be guided, or transfixed or work closely with a chef but the truth is the pace of the kitchen is too fast and explinations are short if any and failure, usually in drastic fashion, is the most common form of learning. then they have to make adjustments on a daily basis and its often so hard on the individual. get some knife skills, some line skills, a head on your shoulders and then apply to the places you have always aspired to.

franzb69
03-20-2013, 12:04 PM
get some knife skills, some line skills, a head on your shoulders and then apply to the places you have always aspired to.

yes to all of this. do the classic techniques, learn it and learn it well. i've heard this many many times.... if you wanna be good at something you have to do it at least a thousand times, so if you wanna master technique, you have to do it way more than that. and then when you think you're good enough there's always gonna be someone better than you at it. being in the kitchen is pretty competitive coz you always wanna be faster or better than the other guy.

a head on your shoulders will help you to be able to handle people in the kitchen who are let's just say less than ideal in terms of personality and work ethic. there will always be that one dude that you hate being around with.

so good luck and see where it takes you. i hope i get somewhere as well. lol.

Salty dog
03-20-2013, 01:48 PM
The offer is still open. Just not a fan of dancin, if ya know what I mean. Pick a freakin week and bite the bullit.

Although I have a pre-planned 30 day "vacation" coming up which I hope to squeeze in before summer.

"a head on your shoulders will help you to be able to handle people in the kitchen who are let's just say less than ideal in terms of personality" .......this made me chuckle.

franzb69
03-21-2013, 07:40 AM
this made me chuckle.

:doublethumbsup: :biggrin:

jcsiii
06-24-2013, 02:16 PM
As a stage expect to do the least complicated work, what they would call the B**H work. But keep your eyes open and learn at every opportunity. My best opinion is to get a stage at the best restaurant that will take you. Expect to work hard for little to no money for weeks. You probably won't get a job offer at a lot of high end places so early in your career but you will learn how to be a clean and efficient cook and you will probably see a lot more in a short period of time at one of these places than you ever will at a lower level restaurant.

foodaholic
06-24-2013, 02:48 PM
I am currently a culinary student and I did an extended stage (externship) at COI in San Francisco. It was one of the hardest things I have ever done in my life, but I would do it again in a heartbeat. I was there as a stage for a little over 5 months. I worked long hard hours that I will never forget. I opened the restaurant up at 7:30am or 8am every day and would usually finish my closing duties by 11pm. I did everything from pick seaweeds, juice citrus, make family meal, pick herbs, tend plant and pick our micro-green garden, peel fresh yuzu and make yuzu koshu and yuzu-panettone with our pastry chef, make beet roses, clean garbage cans, fold linens, forage with our chef de cuisine, scrub floors, and I was even a dishwasher for two nights and all of these things have made me a better person and cook. I went in with an open mind and expected to do grunt work and that is what I started doing, but I showed promise and by the end of the experience I was doing things that I never could have imagined.
The best advise I received on this stage was to write everything down. Write down ideas, recipes, methods, ingredient names, peoples names, each tool in the kitchen and a description, ideas on how to become faster, conversations that you have with people, write it all down no matter how inconsequential you think it is, WRITE IT DOWN. It shows you care and after a year or so when you want to remember how they made that killer dish you can look back at your notes and re-create it yourself.

jbl
10-26-2013, 09:45 AM
I stage regularly with whichever restaurant does what I feel is a gap in my knowledge. For example, I'm heading down to a well known London restaurant that cooks only with wood fire, and last summer I went to the UKs best restaurant to suss out their extensive foraging system. It's the same way I buy books; be specific.

Von blewitt
10-26-2013, 09:50 AM
Burnt Enz?

Chefget
10-27-2013, 10:19 AM
I walked the streets of Paris, knocking on doors and talking (with a truly pitiful but respectful French) with chefs until one said yes.

Actually two said yes, and took the job that paid 7 franc/day. That was about a dollar in 1984, enough for the metro home and a 'demi' :D

When the truffle purveyor came in and we tasted fresh winter truffles from a wooden basket I knew it was the right choice!

-Michael

ohbewon
11-05-2013, 09:50 PM
We get stage's every other day fresh from/still in school. I second everyone that's stressed technique. SO many high end kitchens cryovac everything and drop it into the circulator. While it's not a horrible way to turn out food, lots of new cooks depend on them too much. Classic technique will take you far. Monkeys can sous vide apples. It takes a cook to glacÚ those for service. Technique, technique, technique! Plus, in super high end kitchens like mine, the chef/owner (the one with all of the awards) rarely spends much time in the kitchen.