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Stage opportunity...

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 

I was checking craigslist the other day and saw that the great little Italian place down the block from me is looking for a cold side line cook. They were asking for someone with 3+ years experience and a culinary degree... I decided to send a note:

 

 

Quote:
Hello, Chef Giordan,
I recently saw your posting for a cold side line cook. Though I do not qualify for the job you posted for I am not asking for a paid position, I would love the opportunity to extern in your restaurant whenever I can.  I am currently working in Redmond on the Microsoft Campus as a grill cook full time Monday – Friday 6am -2:30pm. I have all the major holidays off. I will bring enthusiasm, a stellar work ethic and a teachable spirit to the table. In return I only ask for the opportunity to learn anything and everything you are willing to teach me. I have no problem peeling potatoes, washing dishes, or sweeping the floor. I am 38,  have no habits that will interfere with my work, and I live 2 blocks away.
 
I look forward to hearing from you. Thank you for you time and consideration.  

 

I didn't really think I would hear back from them, and I wanted to pull the email back as soon as I hit send because I sounded so lame. But, today I got a call from the Chef de Cuisine to come in a talk with them on Wednesday. I did not plan to do any of this until after the first of the year but could not pass on the chance. They have a great menu at Serafina and I am Italian and have recently decided to focus my education on Italian Cuisine. 

 

Anyone have any advise to give me on how I should approach Wednesday?

post #2 of 15

sounds like it's right up your alley, and as an aside i think you would be stellar there...just be yourself, as you are an upstanding man....but do please ask for some kind of money compensation(it really makes the rest of us look bad!!!!)..i  would  think that after even a very short while(like 2 days) you will not be a happy camper...learning is hard work! i wish you only the best...breathe deep and again, just be you...you have much to bring to the table...tell them that and then show them...best of luck...cold line side is a pefect place to start...ooh, you must be soo excited..keep us posted, please..

joey

food is like love...it should be entered into with abandon or not at all        Harriet Van Horne

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food is like love...it should be entered into with abandon or not at all        Harriet Van Horne

Reply
post #3 of 15

Restaurants can get into a bit of legal trouble over stages. Usually, workers comp and min wage. Some places don't take stages for that reason.

 

 

Most importantly, don't let yourself be abused. Providing somebody with free labor should be a low priority.

post #4 of 15
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the advise guys. I am still trying to decide if I need to go to school or if I should just extern in as many places as I can since I have a great job that will allow me the time needed to learn as much as I can out in the "real" world. I will not allow myself to be taken advantage of, but I do want the chance to learn and I do not really want to leave my current job.

post #5 of 15

Hey there. I'm a cook in seattle as well. I actually did a stage at serafina once. While it is a cool place to work, I don't think it's worth working totally for free. They should be willing to compensate you fairly though, if you are already working the grill elsewhere. If not, run away! I would only work for free if the place were high profile enough to guarantee work in the future.

 

As for school vs. on the job training; I'd say don't waste your money. There are plenty of great chefs/restaurants in town and they all seem to be extremely understaffed right now. In fact, I work at two places in Pike Place Market(both hiring like crazy), PM me if you need anything/have any questions about getting a job down there. good luck and happy cooking!

post #6 of 15

just wanted to add this about getting paid....i don't where other chef's stand on this, but personally i think that WHEN the kitchen finds out, and they will soon enough, it may actually cause to separate you from the crew. while everyone else is working hard and struggling hard to support their families, it might be misconstrued as being elitist and not needing the money. puts you on a different playing field and people don't trust people who don't need money! even though you don't want to change jobs at this point for all the reasons you stated, i would still go for the interview...you just never know....its always an experience. listen to the chef,what he needs and expects, how he talks ,what he has to say, how he talks to his staff..it's always about the fit to me...you can teach skills and techniques, but you can't teach personality. aah, i can smell the garlic and sauce from here!

joey

 oh, on cooking schools, i have never had a cook that went to school that was worth his weight...in fact i just stopped hiring them altogether. they are clones and drones in my opinion. you can learn everything you want in any station working in hotel kitchens for a year. lots of restaurants out there willing to teach you as well...and you can always take classes here and there...there was a discussion about schools here awhile back with lots of different opinions...think the article that started it off was one by anthony bourdain...an article or excerpt from his book, 'so you wanna be a chef'...definately worth the read

food is like love...it should be entered into with abandon or not at all        Harriet Van Horne

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food is like love...it should be entered into with abandon or not at all        Harriet Van Horne

Reply
post #7 of 15

Yeah, I'd be a little worried about losing hours to the guy working for free, too.

post #8 of 15
Thread Starter 

hmm, interesting POV. I had never really thought about loosing hours to a guy willing to work for free... that has real merit. I will keep it in mind. I am usually pretty good at dealing with tough situations though. My wife gets so mad at me because I can get away with chit that others would get fired for hahaha. I used to do it all the time when we worked in the same place. I do not want to work for free if I don't have too, however this place in literally 2 blocks from my house and the food in top notch. It is the type of food I am most comfortable with and I am not learning enough at my job. They will not move me on to other stations because not many people can handle the grill at the pace we have to pump out food. Our sale for the cafe have gone up 15% since the first of the year, and the grills over all % of sales is up to 9.6%. It was 7.1% when I started in Feb. I am able to pump out an average of 35 more covers a day in 3 hours. I told them when i first started that I would work for 1 year and then I was going to culinary school. The Chef talked to me Monday in the elevator and asked if I was still planning on leaving and I told him I was still planning on going to school in the winter, he asked that I reconsider and stay. I told him I was still thinking about it, but was not ready to change my plans yet. I am very torn on what to do at this point, but I still have a few months to think about it. 

 

Other considerations are that my wife has a normal schedule. Right now my job fits perfectly with her schedule. If I left it would have to be for something AMAZING. I would honestly rather work for free in great places and learn OJT style and save the school money. To me it would be a wash at that point. I just don't know and I am the kind of person that never makes a final decision until I have no time left to make it. It is a Libra thing :)

post #9 of 15

Going in for a stage as part of an interview is fine; doing it full time with no compensation is not.  Liability issues can be a problem as well.  What if your hurt/injured on the job?  Your sol and taking the attorney road; it could be several months to years to get paid.  I bring all new cooks in for a stage as part of their interview. If they shine and get hired I usually pay them for the shift as well.  If not it's a short shift.biggrin.gif

post #10 of 15

 

Quote:
Other considerations are that my wife has a normal schedule. Right now my job fits perfectly with her schedule.

Dude, you seriously don't know how important this is, and how lucky you are atm. Food service is a relationship killer. The divorce rate is up there with cops and soldiers.

 

Sounds like you have a pretty sweet gig where you are. Don't make the mistake of thinking that high end restaurant cuisine is the be all end all. You're in a legit sector of the industry, and you're excelling both for your bosses and your customers.

 

Whatever you do, make sure you have a good talk with your wife about it.

 

Here's my POV regarded stage.

 

Stage is something you do on vacation. You find a cool restaurant, set up a stage, schedule your time off or leave of absence, have some nice weeks of working vacation, and come home having learned stuff, added to your resume, and accomplish a good bit of networking.

 

Here's my story of the stage of woe:

Some buddies from c school and I applied to a certain famous Florida chef's Los Angeles outpost. A bunch of other people had also applied. I have a nice talky interview with the CdC, was impressed with to be talking with a guy who came up with the man himself. CdC says, why don't you try out for a week with us. Sure I thought, why not. So I put in my week. Had a lot of fun. The sous chef was a trip, scored some points with my knowledge of sauce polonaise, embarrassed my self with a horrid brounoise, and learned some good work habits from the pantry girl I was shadowing. Then I realized there were around 2-3 stages every single shift. By my calculations, they got about 130 free hours of labor from my buddies and I, not counting the other applicants

 

I was a little bitter about it at first, because I felt suckered, especially since I didn't get the job. It was a week I could have been doing something more productive, but at least it was interesting.

 

Anyway, the moral of my rambling story is that for any unpaid stage or shadowing as part of an job application should be kept to 1-2 days tops.

post #11 of 15
Thread Starter 
Thanks for all the great advise guys. I will update after my meeting with the chef. I hope it works out to be something wonderful. I am sure it will be a great learning experience regardless. smile.gif
post #12 of 15
Thread Starter 

Update: Talked to the Chef about what I am looking for and the amount of time I can put in. He said he is actually looking for a full time cold side line cook. He said that he will get back to me and that he would like to possibly have me come in on weekends to help with prep and whatnot for dinner services. He makes his own sausage, prosciutto, pasta and some of the breads in house. He said he is a do it yourself kinda guy. I think this is amazing news. It sounded more like he wanted me to work there for pay than for free. I am really stoked right now!!

post #13 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by RGM2 View Post

Update: Talked to the Chef about what I am looking for and the amount of time I can put in. He said he is actually looking for a full time cold side line cook. He said that he will get back to me and that he would like to possibly have me come in on weekends to help with prep and whatnot for dinner services. He makes his own sausage, prosciutto, pasta and some of the breads in house. He said he is a do it yourself kinda guy. I think this is amazing news. It sounded more like he wanted me to work there for pay than for free. I am really stoked right now!!


so that's R as in Rockstar? right on!!!...so tell me again why you think you need to go to school when there are places like this to learn from?....you gonna learn how to do all that in school?...i doubt it....

hope it all works for you...thanks for the update

joey

 

food is like love...it should be entered into with abandon or not at all        Harriet Van Horne

Reply

food is like love...it should be entered into with abandon or not at all        Harriet Van Horne

Reply
post #14 of 15

We learned sausage, bread, and fresh pasta in school. Didn't make pork prosciutto because of the time involved. Did make duck prosciutto.

 

Just saying :P

 

I slightly question the point of making prosciutto in house. A big part of the flavor is from the pigs diet. Like the good prosciutto eats Parmesan whey, and good Iberian eats acorns yielding amazing fat. Also the difficulty in maintaining the conditions needed for proper aging and curing.

 

 

Hey, doesn't Batali's dad have a really good cured meat shop up in Seattle? He makes a lot of his stuff.

post #15 of 15
Thread Starter 

OMG! His dad's place has the BEST salumi I have ever had. Truly amazing, and with as much flavor as they have you have to really cut it thin. It is $17 bucks a pound but it goes very far. 

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