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Asked to come in for an interview and "stage"?

post #1 of 25
Thread Starter 

Hey ChefTalkers,

 

I applied for a position at a restaurant as a line cook. I just got an email reply from the chef/owner saying this:

 

"Would you be able to come in for an interview and stage on the 26th at 3:30pm?"

 

I was wondering what she meant by stage.  This is an open kitchen right in the dining room so maybe she means work through service and see how I do on "stage"?  Or maybe she wants me to demo something that I like to make?  Of course, I'll be prepared for whatever it might be. That's what I love about this industry; so dynamic and forever changing.  But I just thought maybe you all out there might have some input.

 

Either way I'm freaking excited at the prospect of working there!

 

Thanks,

Tony

post #2 of 25

Stage...... She want's to see you work.

post #3 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by chefbuba View Post

Stage...... She want's to see you work.

From the French "Stagiaire",,, (stah-zhee-EHR)
 

 

Chef,
Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
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Chef,
Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
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post #4 of 25

Essentially, you're being invited to hold down a line station for an entire shift.

 

And in case you're tempted to use the word in conversation with a potential employer, as Pete said it's French, and pronounced "stahzh," not "staij." 

 

Bone Shantz,

BDL

post #5 of 25

The way the french word "stage" is used here in europe at least refers to a sort of internship.  Meaning you work for free and get to learn.  It's practically the only way young people can get "jobs" in Italy - which is why they all live at home.  They then promise you to give you a real (paying) job at the end, but usually they just get another desperate young person to do another stage.  I can't tell you how many young people i know who have been doing "stages" and getting to 30 or 35 and still are doing stages. 

So you might want to check if this owner is Italian smile.gif

"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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post #6 of 25

You are entitled to compansation. If they are teaching you, that is different . They are not,  you are working a shift or line and therefore should be paid. Look at it this way she could have 5 guys stage that week and not get paid not hire any and not have to hire anyone for the week.  BS  get paid. Get it straight beforehand.

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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post #7 of 25

Most culinary students over here, being in their 2 last years, have to do (unpayed) stage in restaurants. It's a few weeks extra practical education. The students don't have to look for a place, they are attributed by the school who has relations with these restaurants. Many of these restaurants are in another country, mainly France. I just heared of one single culinary school having more than 140 restaurants in portfolio where their stagiaires can go to.

I need to add that our culinary schools have a daily real restaurant service in which the students have to participate a number of times per week, either in the kitchen or front of house. So they know a few things before they are allowed to do their stage.

 

Being asked to do a trial for just one day is not a stage.

post #8 of 25

Chris  True but they are teaching them somthing, this guy is just looking for free labor.

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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post #9 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by chefedb View Post

Chris  True but they are teaching them somthing, this guy is just looking for free labor.



You're right Chef, I didn't mention stages are ment to educate students in everyday practice.

 

 

post #10 of 25
Thread Starter 

Well, that was very helpful.  Thanks everyone for their comments.  Much appreciated!

post #11 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by boar_d_laze View Post

Essentially, you're being invited to hold down a line station for an entire shift.

 

And in case you're tempted to use the word in conversation with a potential employer, as Pete said it's French, and pronounced "stahzh," not "staij." 

 

Bone Shantz,

BDL

I have read everybody's posts so far, but I do not come away with the idea that th OP is being asked to work a shift. The fact that the OP is coming in at 3:30 in the afternoon is the give away. It is after lunch but before dinner service, a perfect time for an afternoon interview.
 

 

post #12 of 25

AT 3.30 THEY START PREPPING FOR DINNER.

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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post #13 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by chefedb View Post

AT 3.30 THEY START PREPPING FOR DINNER.


Yes you're right.....what a perfect way to see what a perspective applicant can do.

 

post #14 of 25
Thread Starter 

Hey,

 

So if it is indeed an interview and a working shift, should I still wear a suit to the interview and bring a change of clothes?

 

-Tony

post #15 of 25

Listen, the guy used the wrong term. A stage is an often misused term in the US--technically, a stage is someone who works for a period of time in  a kitchen as a learning experience but for either no pay or subsistence pay (like they might hook you up with a bed to sleep in or something). This is what you would do if you were to, say, travel Europe for a few months and work for free in any number of kitchens that would have you. 

 

What the chef MEANT to say was that he wanted to do a job tryout with you and make sure you weren't a complete buffoon on the line before hiring you. To make sure you gel with the staff, know what a hotel pan, 9th pan, etc all are. See some basic knife skills, help with prep, then maybe work next to a cook (likely on the station you are likely to work) and learn. If you do well, at some point in the night you will probably be asked to pick up a dish by yourself (under supervision) and show what you got. 

 

There is absolutely NOTHING wrong with doing this--it is very standard in a lot of places. Chefedb means well, but I think he/she was under the assumption that this chef just wants you to go in and be free labor. Think of it more as a working job interview/tryout. It's totally, 100% normal and nothing to be upset about--it's unlikely that this chef uses the working interview for much free labor.

 

Also remember: you are interviewing them as well. This is a GOOD thing, because you will know pretty fast if this is a kitchen you could work in full time. If you see clean cooks, working hard, not TOO much grab-ass, people being serious about food, having standards, not cutting corners, etc, it's good. If you go into the kitchen and it's filthy, and the food sucks, etc, then you know it won't be right for you.

 

It's likely that you won't stay the entire night...you'll be let go once the rush is over, and then they will talk about you when you leave. Make sure you get a timeframe from the chef/sous chef about what the next step is--he might have a couple more people coming in, he might not, but try to get a firm "I'll call you by such-and-such date about the job" or you say "Chef, I'll call you on Monday to see where we stand" before you leave. This might make you feel better if it goes a couple of days with no word. 

 

And no, don't wear a suit. Wear a clean kitchen uniform and sharpen your knives. Take your jacket on a hangar and bring a hat of some sort. Maybe an apron too (don't assume they have aprons). Make sure your shoes are clean, etc. IMO a suit would be way overkill...if it were a management position I would say otherwise but I highly doubt he will think more of you if you wear a suit (lol, maybe he'd think less). 

 

Good luck.

post #16 of 25

Maybe I am being a bit cruel, but here in Florida the owners will try anything to exploit you.  One of the few states that try to eliminate chefs and have cooks only with a food manager in kitchen instead. Years back they advertised prep cooks and line cooks. Therefore the prep guys dont know how to work a line and line guys don't know how to prep. The owners screwed themselves trying to save a chefs salary. Now if a guy calls in sick, they really start  that nights service in the weeds. It's like watching Hells Kitchen. They tried to copy the McDonalds System into nicer type places, but it does not work.

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

Reply
post #17 of 25
I'm amazed at how many folks think staging is a con. "Someday" has it right. As an owner and chef I would never hire someone before they staged for me. How can you hire someone without knowing if they can work your line properly?? And there's only one way you can know that and that's to have them work the line with your team.
In addition, having someone new work with your team is NOT (even a mo pay) a benefit. We currently ALLOW the local Le Cordon Bleu School to place their Externs with us. The only benefit to us is finding that one gem in a hundred who we proceed to hire. Our experience shows that our teams spend more time working with the Extern's then if we did the dishes ourselves. So I see absolutely NO benefit whatsoever to getting someone for FREE if my staff slows down while working with them.
Any chef who has worked a busy kitchen knows that a team that works closely together knows their job, creates a symmetry that is hard to create and easy to destroy. Adding a new person to the mix, no matter how experienced (or cheap) ALWAYS destroys that symmetry.
It is my contention that staging someone (even if it's for free) ALWAYS costs you money.
post #18 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by jssonline View Post

I'm amazed at how many folks think staging is a con. "Someday" has it right. As an owner and chef I would never hire someone before they staged for me. How can you hire someone without knowing if they can work your line properly?? And there's only one way you can know that and that's to have them work the line with your team.
In addition, having someone new work with your team is NOT (even a mo pay) a benefit. We currently ALLOW the local Le Cordon Bleu School to place their Externs with us. The only benefit to us is finding that one gem in a hundred who we proceed to hire. Our experience shows that our teams spend more time working with the Extern's then if we did the dishes ourselves. So I see absolutely NO benefit whatsoever to getting someone for FREE if my staff slows down while working with them.
Any chef who has worked a busy kitchen knows that a team that works closely together knows their job, creates a symmetry that is hard to create and easy to destroy. Adding a new person to the mix, no matter how experienced (or cheap) ALWAYS destroys that symmetry.
It is my contention that staging someone (even if it's for free) ALWAYS costs you money.

Spot on. I've stopped using the term stage and have replaced it with 'trail'. 

 

If we post an ad on craigslist or whatever job posting avenue we use and a cook sends in his/her resume, I reach out to the cook and do an informal interview on the phone. Once we are past that point, I ask them to join us in the kitchen for a trail. This is explained ahead of time as to what I expect, bring knives and appropriate shoes/pants. We will provide coat, apron, towels. I generally ask them to join us an hour after the cooks have arrived. Cooks show at 1:30 for PM service, trail shows at 2:30. The cooks have settled in and have already gathered their items to be prepped. The trail shows up and gets changed, I give them a tour of the building and facilities and then set them up between two cooks and allow them to share their workload with the trail.

 

I realize this is on their own free time, but as a cook I wouldn't want to work in a kitchen I've never been in. Chef could be a screamer, cooks could be angry, place could be filthy, who knows! 

 

Towards the last hour of service, I pull the trail from the line, hand them a menu and ask them what they'd like to eat. Get them a beer or glass of wine and have a post-trail interview. Once the interview is done, food is ready, the trail sits to enjoy his/her dinner and drink. At that point, I have no more expectation of this person. No need to stay and clean, we pay people to do that. If this person is offered a job, it is typically the next day over the phone. Even if a job isn't offered, this person probably walked away with an awesome experience in our restaurant and at the bare minimum had a "free" dinner. 

 

EDIT: Didn't realize this was years old. 

post #19 of 25

My chef asked me to come in for a paid stage and half-way through he hired me on the spot. I have no problem with doing a staging shift. Paid or unpaid.

Gourmandise is an impassioned, rational and habitual preference for all objects that flatter the sense of taste.
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Gourmandise is an impassioned, rational and habitual preference for all objects that flatter the sense of taste.
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post #20 of 25
DeepsouthNYC - this was the exact experience I had before I started at my resto. As an older "career-changer" with ZERO experience or culinary arts school, I didn't know what to expect, but it was an AWESOME experience. Kitchen was a bit short-staffed, so I helped a bunch of the line cooks with their prep, and then during service I got thrown into garde manger and made/plated pretty much all the cold apps. Chef pulled me off just as things were starting to get broken down at end of shift and we chatted. It was a perfect way for me to see the environment and for chef to see whether I had the potential to hack it. I loved every minute of it and now I'm a paid apprentice in their kitchen.
post #21 of 25

Standard issue as long as it's one shift. It's only a con if we're talking long term and then I hope you realize what's happening after one week lol. Or even if it's more then two days without much competition for the position. Even 3 times is too much unless this is an elite entry level position and they're having their own playoffs with you and one other potential hire so to speak, but if it were that type of job this thread would have never been created and that is still probably a stretch.

 

When I worked in the industry back when I certainly had a few of these, especially so because I am unschooled, but I've also seen this a number of times at a few places I've been in, even if only a mini version where the potential hire was asked to comeback another day during the lull to show their knowledge of certain dishes in action and then jumped into the frying pan for a couple hours of actual service, asked to step aside often when a true rush came even if they were doing well.

post #22 of 25

 When interviewing for a chef or chefs I have always had them in for an interview,(incidently I always got the sous chef to do the interview or the person slightly above the position I was advertising for to do the initial interview) and then arranged with the ones I thought were possibilities to do a stage, normally 1 whole day being a lunch and dinner shift (split). On occasion I have been approached by the candidate and he/she has told me they expect to be paid for the trial/working shift, I have always covered expenses (fuel etc.) However those that demanded pay the interview was promptly terminated.

At the end of the day it is a 2 way street, does the candidate like us, do we like him, how does the team feel, we always finish the day with a team meeting and a drink (candidate included) to discuss what we liked and what we didn't like, plus he/she could also put his/her point across, on what he/she liked and didn't like.

I have always found that this works the best.

post #23 of 25

I appreciate this thread very much, as I was just asked to come in for a stage tomorrow. In my brief experience, it was called a kitchen test/meet the team. Love this site! It answers so many questions. Thanks!

post #24 of 25

In my experience a "stage" is more of a "lets see what you got" try out. A buddy of mine has had to stage some 4 times in the last year (landed a executive chef gig at a big global outfit because of it). He would go in and take his own ingredients, never relying on what they had on hand. Of course these stages were for cdc and ex chef positions. They usually understand you can run a line once you've been in the business for 30 years. lol!

2 cents... 

post #25 of 25

We need to collectively (as the food industry) get away from using the term "stage" to mean a working job interview. It drives me bonkers. A stage (stahj) is a period of time where you work for free or subsistence pay/room and board at a place in order to learn and gain work experience. It typically only happens in the upper echelons (think Michelin star) places in Europe the US and I'm assuming around the world too. 

 

It is similar to an unpaid internship, maybe only different in the sense that is isn't part of a educational program or other entity. 

 

We should use the word "tryout" or "trail" to mean when someone comes in to work a shift or a few hours in a kitchen with a chef and the crew. It is not only a more accurate phrase but would put an end to the horrific wrong usage of the word stage. 

 

To me, this is right up there with people saying "behind you" or "behind" when they want you to move. UUUUUGGGGHHHH. Saying "behind" means "DON'T move, cause I'm behind you" not "move out of my way." If you need me to move just say "excuse me" or something. 

 

One of my bigger pet peeves. 

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