If they tell you to do something and you don't know how...ask! I've seen too many people screw something up because they just assumed they knew what they were doing.
Stages should be fun though. They allow the chef to see if you're a good fit for the restaurant and also if the restaurant is a good fit for you.
So.... What's the outcome? Did any advice work ?
Now if I can chime in, Dan... I'm just going to echo some of what's already been mentioned, and maybe something new. Let's see.
Get tatoos. Kitchen hands seem to think this is mandatory. (Okay, don't. Not serious.)
Someone mentioned write stuff down. Yeah, do it. Write stuff down, make diagrams - how certain things are plated, maybe how something else is organised - study it at home so you're quicker and know your stuff, stick your paper up where you can see it when you're busy and forget.
Sense of humour and music in the kitchen - will be excruciating. Be prepared for all manner of tastelessness. Plug your ears.
Knives - on the one hand, you might give the impression that you think you're pretty hot stuff if you bring your fancy knives. Unless you're already very fast and the constant wiping and care needed for your carbon is second nature, maybe use the house knives instead and keep sharpening rods around as they'll need them constantly. On the other hand, using the crap house knives will make your work more difficult. No good solution.
Ignore the servers. They're a bunch of ... y'know.
Make friends with the dishwashers. People dump on them, but they deserve respect. Also shows the kind of person you are too. The servers are to the cooks what the cooks are to the dishwashers.
The obvious: use any free moment to keep your section all tidy and organised, and refresh yourself on anything you might have forgotten or need to ask about.
Speak Spanish. Aren't half the kitchen hands in the US Spanish speakers?
As you're going to be there, more or less, just for fun and the experience, you might probably expect that the crew will imagine you're the type who watches the food network all the time and so thinks if you joined in it would be cool. Debatable whether working in a kitchen is actually cool, but you still might get the attitude: you're a wannabe. No surprise.
And now a controversial one: being very hygenic takes a lot of time. At home, I wash everything when I should and as I should, and probably more so, but that's not what I've always seen done in restaurants. Watch others and see if there's any sort of general standard - because it'll probably be individual too - and then be a bit cleaner yourself, but not too clean as that'll take up time and then people will think you're slow and useless and not care why. Or you could do what I did and would do, and just ignore them and still be clean anyway.
Be yourself is about the best advice I could give though it sounds corny. Maybe sounds a little dramatic but I think pretty much everything anyone does in the kitchen is a broader reflection of the kind of person they are so be yourself no matter what anyone else is like or does and you should be fine. I see a lot of people just try to fit in and do a lot of bad things as well as good rather than ploughing their own furrow
did you ever end up doing a stage?
Not yet. Time ran short, and it dropped from my thoughts. I was thinking about it again last week though.
I need to call her.
Bring your sharpest knives, a doobie and wear a tie dye shirt. Have fun :)
Here is someone who knows what he's talking about.
Originally Posted by Asteger
Yeah, I had a good laugh when I first read that too.
Originally Posted by marc4pt0
Wear a chef's coat, pants and good kitchen shoes (clogs are great). If the coat is embroidered "Chef (your name here)" leave it home.
Bring a well sharpened gyuto, parer and a slicer. Also a sharpie, a few hand towels and a thermometer.
Expect to do prep work with a kid who will kick your ass with an inexpensive santuko, or the like. If they're smart they'll have you doing the work they hate the most. You may not use your knives much at all if you're shucking corn or cracking eggs.
Don't expect to work with the chef or do line work.
STFup and listen. Ask good questions, especially if you have even the slightest doubt. Have them demonstrate what they want you to do and place a sample or two on the corner of your cutting board for comparison. After you're shown what to do ask them to watch you do it to be sure it's correct.
Depending on the size of the kitchen, you're taking up valuable real estate. Do the job correctly and once you relax your speed will increase. Work as if you're getting paid and as if the line cook will trace crappy product back to you.
Have a sense of humor and be able to laugh at yourself. You're there for a day or less, so be yourself without trying to score points.
If you're done with a task an no one is around, find your boss (the prep kid) and ask what you can do next.
Keep a container of water at your station.
Keep breaks short unless it's scheduled.
Don't be surprised if you cut yourself, but don't get any blood on the product. Always work clean, even if it slows you down.
Pay attention to what different sinks are used for.
If you did things right, at the end of the day your legs and back will ache like hell and you'll want to do it again.