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If you had to do your apprenticeship all over again...

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 
Well folks, 'tis the season to be looking for a place to do my apprenticeship. I figure the best way to go about it is to interview chefs directly, the more the better.

I solicit your help because I want to make sure I have everything covered: What do you think are the questions I should ask? Don't hold back, the more obscure the better!

(Right now I'm debating whether it's best to apprentice with a big name or with someone less famous who will acually teach me things... My ultimate goal is catering. What do you think?)
post #2 of 9
Don't go for the big name it is almost always a bad idea. A couple friends of my worked at Trellis for the externship and they had a terrible time. They ended up cutting vegetables and cleaning lettuce the whole time.

Go to a place where they will let you get your hands on the food. BUT!!! Have a good attitude, don't be a prima donna that is not going to do this and that. Be willing to work extra hours, stay after to learn. If you have a good attitude it will show and they will teach you a lot more.
Thanks,

Nicko 
ChefTalk.com Founder
All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking
All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking
Bacon (I made)
(26 photos)
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Thanks,

Nicko 
ChefTalk.com Founder
All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking
All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking
Bacon (I made)
(26 photos)
Reply
post #3 of 9
Trellis!

That's Marcel Desaulniers isn't it?

The "Death by Chocolate" guy!

:eek:
I cook'n bake with passion...
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I cook'n bake with passion...
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post #4 of 9
Thread Starter 
Thanks Nicko,
I've conducted an informal poll on my end and we all seem to agree with you. Next week I start a 2 week break from classes, during which I will send letters to a great many chefs to request interviews. I want to talk to everyone, including the tyrants and SOBs. I'll get a better idea that way. Our apprenticeships are 6000 hours, minus class time. Given the length, I want to make sure I make the right decision.
post #5 of 9
Are you going to apply for a catering externship? Consider a restaurant that does both. Catering is a different animal....
Michael Roman in Chicago has a text book on Catering that I'm going to purchase...about $90 but this guy is right on with most of his advise in seminars.
***Oh yeah Nicko remind me to tell you the Desaunier story sometime....

[ April 18, 2001: Message edited by: shroomgirl ]
cooking with all your senses.....
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cooking with all your senses.....
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post #6 of 9
Anneke, I felt so bad for those two friends of mine they litereally were peeling carrots and potatoes all day. That is not what you need to be spending your extership doing. I on the other hand (yes I am bragging) had a totally awesome extership. At first I was on my way to a big fancy restaurant called Le Bec Fin, you probably have heard of it. I was not at all ready for that kind of environment and I am glad that I never made it there. Ended up at the Four Seasons in Chicago. By the time I left I had worked in the Garde Mange department (even got to do an ice carving), Butchering department, Breakfast Line, Lunch Line (Entrementier, and saute), Banquets, and finished of with one week in the pastry department. After all that they asked me if I would like to stay for a year but I declined so I could finish up school.

Don't be at all afraid to be upfront and ask what you can expect from your externship. Find a good chef who is willing to spend time and teach you and help you strengthen your weaknesses.

Hope that helps.
Thanks,

Nicko 
ChefTalk.com Founder
All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking
All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking
Bacon (I made)
(26 photos)
Reply
Thanks,

Nicko 
ChefTalk.com Founder
All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking
All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking
Bacon (I made)
(26 photos)
Reply
post #7 of 9
Nicko, about carving:

Have you ever carved something out of margarine?

At the ITHQ (Institut de tourisme et de l'hôtellerie du Québec) they sculpted Marilyn Monroe out of margarine. Sooooo impressive! They displayed it (her) in the entrance (where students come in). And the work was so well done she seemed alive. That was so cool!

And Anneke, good luck and keep us posted!


:D

[ April 18, 2001: Message edited by: pooh ]
I cook'n bake with passion...
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I cook'n bake with passion...
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post #8 of 9
Hope I'm not too late to put in my two cent's worth. Since you have so many hours of apprenticeship to complete, I recommend that you choose a plethora of areas to try out. Remember that you are also boss of your own schedule so you can mix and match a couple of places. I mean choose a couple of restaurants (with different seating capacities) that will allow you to work a couple of stations in a specified amount of time. Include, if you can a gig at the pastry station. Choose also to spend a few hours working for caterers, foodwriters, food magazines, teaching institutions, etc so that you get a very well-rounded view of the industry. By the time your apprenticeship period is over, you will have a very good idea about where it is that you want to head. You may even have a good career plan as well. The moderator is right about interviewing places and finding out how much they are willing to teach you. I have an intern working with me right now. The pastry chef I work with and I have a very good attitude about teaching people who want to learn. We do choose very carefully who we allow in our kitchen. If you show up with a willingness and enthusiasm to learn and are very committed to doing a good job, we will snap you up.
SmartGirl to the rescue!
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SmartGirl to the rescue!
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post #9 of 9
Thread Starter 
I still need to read up on the 'rules' but I hope that the multiple mentor approach will qualify for my apprenticeship. If I can, then I think you are right and that definitely would be the approach that I would prefer. Thanks a lot for your input! (ps: I really like your pseudonym; I call my husband that quite a bit too!)
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