Doing a stage...
I've been interested in doing some stages at local places for a while now, but have held back while trying to find a the right place and make a connection. I've now been invited into the kitchen of a local place in an office park (primarily lunch business), that mostly does fresh pasta + sauces (but also burgers, panini, etc.). Fairly simple food, but quality and consistency are crucial to the model.
I wanted to ask the pros here what I should do to prepare so that I can be useful and not in the way. clothes? shoes? station? etc. I assume I'll mostly be doing prep work, or possibly some plating...I don't see them letting me operate the hot stations on day one.
I have zero experience in a commercial kitchen....
Any insight/advice welcomed.
Z take your time. This may sound odd, but true. When learning something new like this you want to pay attention more than about speed. It becomes more about muscle memory than it does about speed. Unless you want to spend a couple hundred bucks for a uniform, a printed tee shirt and jeans should do fine. Most places if they want you in a uniform will give you a loaner.
Well non-slip shoes are almost universally required, and even if they weren't I would still wear them. Also you will need a hat. Wear long pants. I prefer cargo pants because I keep towels in the cargo pockets but that can be a very big no-no (understandably so). After that it is up to you. I have been in places where t-shirts are ok and the place I currently work requires uniforms. A chef jacket may be a good bet.
Now on to your knives. Don't let anyone mess with them outside of your direct supervision and Definitely don't let them out of your sight. I have been very fortunate in the places I have worked, but I have talked to way too many people who have had some very nice stuff walk off. I am not trying to scare you or talk bad about kitchen workers, just be careful.
Work hard, work clean, work quick, show up on time, have a good attitude, and learn everything you can.
Good luck and have fun. Let us know how it goes.
Good advice so far. Show up in tennis shoes and your gona have a bad time.
Also. Be sure you know what each others expectations are. Is this just part of your hobby, then be helpful clean and don't worry about speed or big picture. If this is a ap where you want to pick up a real job, make mental and written notes of everything. Write down any recipes that staff all has memorized. Every time you grab something from the cooler or dry stock take 10 sec to make note of what is where. Biggest hassle about new people is that they can't find Anything.
Definitely only bring a knife or two that is a beater nothing two fancy. Non slip shoes and it always impresses me when someone puts in the time to study the menu alittle. If there are ingredients or produce or something your not familiar with google them before hand. Maybe look over making pasta and panini just so your prepared.
All great advice, for sure. I'm not a pro, but beig an ex-kitchen guy (along with some other similar jobs), I'd say be eager, ask relevant questions, bring a knife or two that don't scream "I'm a whack-job" (...yes, we are whack-jobs), and most importantly, make sure you can take some good natured teasing. The guys will likely get on you a bit once you've bee there for an hour or so. I'd say just have fun and enjoy it, but try your best to help with production, rather than hinder it. Regardless, it's your first day, and I'm sure you'll do great, and have a blast!
Walk up to the biggest guy in the kitchen and shank him to prove your dominance right off the bat. Should be fairly easy after that.
Don't come in wearing a chef coat....
A plain black or white t-shirt is what you should wear. Same with a basic pair of jeans. If you don't have any non-slip shoes, do yourself a favor and pick up something you find comfortable from Wal-Mart. They'll have some Crocs/other clogs along with something like Dr. Scholl's lace-ups - which are inexpensive, comfortable, and don't look bummy.
Bring a sharpie - but not a notebook. They're not going to want you to start writing down all the recipes when you don't even have the job. If they need you to make something complicated then there will be someone there to guide you. It's just for labeling and showing you're prepared.
Do not bring a knife worth over 60 dollars
Say 'back' or 'behind' when you're walking behind someone... especially if it's during service. 'Corner' if you're coming around a blind corner. 'Hot' if you're carrying something hot.
Otherwise, have fun and enjoy yourself. Don't stress it too much. Be observant and attentive, help out when you can, and stay out of the way when it looks like you should. If whoever you're working with seems to have time to talk and answer things, then go ahead and ask questions, but if they seem stressed & busy - take note, keep quiet and just do whatever possible to help.
Oh... and think extra hard about whether or not you really want to do this :biggrin: (Someone needs to warn ya...)
comfortable shoes, highly recommend slip on style
plain black pants
a hat or bandana or my preference a scully cap
an apron you are comfortable wearing
beater chef knife and a parer nobody would look twice at
find the one person who seems most likely/willing to train you
get to know the operation, don't worry about speed at all, getting it right in twice the time it takes everyone else still better than trying to keep up and f*cking it up.
but... why on earth do you want to try this?