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Advice for staging...

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 
Hello all,

I am a part-time student at CHIC (Cooking and Hospitality Institute of Chicago). I would like to enhance my education by working in various kitchens for free (stage). I was curious if anyone had advice on going about that.

The only concern is that I am currently working full time in the loop. While I am willing to go right from work to a kitchen and also I can work on weekends, I was worried that chef's would prefer that I arrive earlier to help with prep for dinner...

I have worked at the Outpost and found the experience really educational.

I decided that I would send out letters, e-mails, etc. asking to work in a kitchen. Suzy Crofton was very receptive but mentioned that she currently has an extern at her restaurant and no positions are available. I also sent an e-mail to Charlie Trotters and they mentioned that they do not let people stage, but if I wanted to donate $500 to the Charlie Trotter Culinary Foundation, I can work for a week!! What is that all about?

Sorry my post is rather long, but I thought this would be the best place to ask for advice. Is there any chef out there in Chicago that would be interested in a lowly culinary student to do anything in the kitchen?

Thanks,

Paul
post #2 of 6
Have you tried to get some leads or advice from any of your instructors at the school you attend? When I was in culinary school, I was able to get two good leads for an apprenticship and another good workplace. And I was a member of the ACF-TCA chapter in Houston which gave alot of alternatives also. We were a real close-nit group of chefs and cooks.

[This message has been edited by layjo (edited September 03, 2000).]
Another Day, Another Battle.
Don't Ride A Boat Without A Paddle.
If The Water Is Not Too Deep,
Take A Little Swim But Don't Fall Asleep!
Reply
Another Day, Another Battle.
Don't Ride A Boat Without A Paddle.
If The Water Is Not Too Deep,
Take A Little Swim But Don't Fall Asleep!
Reply
post #3 of 6
Welcome to the Cafe Pleddy! Hey I am in Chicago and I went through the same exact thing you are going through. Don't be afraid to talk to the chefs. I would highly recommend talking with the chefs in person if possible. In all honesty, I would not recommend going to a place like Trotters. Not because it is a bad place, but because of why you will most likely end up doing. One of my friends did a stage there for 5 months and all he did was clean snow peas, shrimp, lettuce, and chop herbs. You do not need to spend five months in a place to learn how to do that. You want work at a place were you will actually be able to get you hands in the pot so to speak. I remember a few years back when I was heading to Europe, many people suggested not working at a Michelin three star like George Blanc. In the end I worked at a great Michelin one star and I actually got to cook, not just clean lettuce. And as for the $500.00 to work at Trotters that is nothing. You can pay up to $1000.00 to work for one week at George Blancs in Vonnas France .

Remember, spend your training time wisely. You might be better off working in a place that is not so upscale, the experience will pay off.

------------------
Thanks,

Nicko
nicko@cheftalk.com
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 #4 of 6
Thread Starter 
Thank you for your responses to my post. A little post-script to my staging experience... My wife and I ate at Zealous (Michael Taus' restaurant now in the River- North area of Chicago). After our wonderful dinner, I asked for a tour of the kitchen. Where Chef Taus was very welcoming. I stated that I was a part time culinary student and told him what I wanted to do. Chef Taus said "hey, why don't you work a Saturday here, it will be a great experience."

I took him up on his offer, and two weeks later I was working in his kitchen...I was working in Pastry (yes, cutting up prep stuff) but when service came around, I was able to help out plating the sorbet, cheese, and dessert courses. Chef Taus also told me I can observe the hot line during slow periods in the pastry department.

At the end of the night, Chef Taus asked to see me and told me that he liked my attitude (and that skills can be taught) and he offered me to work on Fridays and Saturdays!

That was several weeks ago, and everything is going wonderful. I am learning everyday and my responsibilites are growing.

I doubt that everyone started this way. But, I think this is a wonderful way to start my culinary career.
post #5 of 6
Congradulations on finding an a place to learn at, and Kudos and much respect for the Chef who invited you to observe and participate in daily actions of his kitchen. Hope everything works out great for you and your future, and also welcome to Cheftalk!
Another Day, Another Battle.
Don't Ride A Boat Without A Paddle.
If The Water Is Not Too Deep,
Take A Little Swim But Don't Fall Asleep!
Reply
Another Day, Another Battle.
Don't Ride A Boat Without A Paddle.
If The Water Is Not Too Deep,
Take A Little Swim But Don't Fall Asleep!
Reply
post #6 of 6
Pleddy,

Believe it or not I went to highschool with Chef Taus. I have known him for a long time and he has really done well. He is a good chef to be working for as he is extremly dedicated and very passionate about his food. Keep your eyes open, and don't be afraid to ask questions (bring a notebook with you to work I used to when I was a stage in France, after service write it all down).

Please tell him I said hello.

------------------
Thanks,

Nicko
nicko@cheftalk.com
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
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