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I feel tricked about spending a night staging for a job that I found out didn't actually exist, am I wrong?

post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 
Hello everyone!

This is a first for me and left me feeling pretty upset the other night. I have been staging across Chicago this week looking for new work. All of them have required that I stage for a night and at the end of the night they have all offered me a job. This last stage, Friday night, was one I was very excited about. I worked a 10 hour shift for them, garmo, in an open kitchen - very interesting.

The ad said they were looking for a full time line cook with 1-2 years of experience for immediate hire. This is also how I arranged all my other stages this week. 3, and all have offered me a position at the end of the night.

Anyway, I show up, I work and at the end of the night the chef starts ordering all this crazy amounts of foods for me and I start assuming there is bad news. When he sits with me he lets me know that while he was extremely impressed by my performance (ex military, quick learner, I have no problems in the kitchen) the position is no longer available. Not because someone else got it, but because yesterday morning he found out that they in fact did not need a new hire. They are opening a second location and are sending a few of their chefs there, hence why they were hiring. But that has been postponed for another three months. He found this out yesterday morning. I said "I'm not dumb, I think you're just saying that I didn't do well enough because I don't understand why you'd make me work all night (for free) if there was no job". He looked confused and said that he didn't want to cancel our arrangements. He told me to call him in 2 months to a year and they could see what they could do. He said that out of the seven people he had stage for the job, I was definitely the best choice. But, again, that just yesterday morning he got the work to not bring in a new hire.

I requested that night off from my current restaurant, I got a sitter for my kid and I had to pay for a 20 dollar cab ride home because my bus had stopped running -- all for a job that didn't exist.

When I told a coworker of mine what happened he said I should go back and demand pay and if they refuse, tell the labor department. I'm not sure if that's extreme. And I'm not even sure if I should be upset. Does anyone have any advice? Is this normal? Should I even be feeling upset? Looking for any and all advice.

Ps. I accepted a job offer at a kick a** place downtown.
post #2 of 21

When you work a stage the pay off is you can say you worked in the restaurant and learned what you needed to. These things happen don't make a big deal out of it. I once interviewed for a position with the Lettuce Entertain you group. Went through three rounds of interviews and did a mystery cooking basket for the management. Weeks go by and heard nothing and finally found out the chef had left and they would have to start the interview process over with the new chef.

 

Frustrating things happen and that is how it is. If you were in the military than you should know (and expect this). A good book to read is 

 

 

Thanks,

Nicko 
ChefTalk.com Founder
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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)
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post #3 of 21
Thread Starter 
Thanks Nicko!

It's all a learning experience. You cited my military career -- but we definitely do not put in labor so we can say that we worked somewhere or for the experience. I have a family, bills to pay, and I don't like when people waste my time.

I will definitely check out the book! Thank you for the sound and wise advice!!
post #4 of 21

It's one of those things, you should of asked for a cab fare immediately it's too late now. As someone said don't make a big deal out of it. I wouldn't expect to get paid for a trial shift, although I would of been pissed off if job wasn't on the cards....It all goes in experience folder, anyway you can feel good as you were offered other positions and accepted one of them. Congratulations! 

post #5 of 21

If a steak gets overcooked, there is no point in putting it back on the grill, it ain't gonna get less cooked. You are better served by grabbing a new one and putting it on the grill.

Wisdom comes with age, but sometimes age comes alone.
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Wisdom comes with age, but sometimes age comes alone.
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post #6 of 21
Thread Starter 
I don't normally expect pay for a trial shift. But, it wasn't really a trial. Just someone letting me work for them under the premise that there was a job available, and there wasn't. I will definitely not go further with this. You guys are right, these things happen. Learning experience, and if anything I learned that this is not a company I'd like to work for.

I read a little bit about the Who Moved My Cheese book and am excited to read it! I am only now entering my second year in the civilian culinary world so this is all new to me.

Thank you for the congratulations!! It feels phenomenal to have even been offered the position and I can't wait for what's to come!
post #7 of 21

Lessons are learned by all the positive and negative things that happen to us in life. When you get a Chefs position someday you will see the other side of how these situations should work. Fairness doesn't always happen to us but, when we are in control of whats right and wrong how you feel today will allow you to make the right decision. Character is build by how we handle the negative things that happen to us. I think you will do just fine walking away from this stage knowing you did your best. You can't control the outcome, you also can't control things you have no control over........The Best.........Chef Bill

post #8 of 21
It's not unknown for people to stage in restaurants just to see how a new place works; I'm not saying I'd do it either, I'm just saying it's not unheard of.
post #9 of 21
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Grande View Post

It's not unknown for people to stage in restaurants just to see how a new place works; I'm not saying I'd do it either, I'm just saying it's not unheard of.

This is true. But I replied to a specific ad on culinaryagents.com looking for an immediate full time hire. I even called the morning of -- this is what bothers me the most -- I called the morning of and said something to the affect of "look I don't wanna waste either of our time, I've been staging all week, I just wanna know the hourly rate is gonna be if I'm offered". Obviously, in a much more respectful tone, but the night before I had staged, been offered a job, but only at 10 an hour. Not interested. And not interested in any place that pays that low. He told me starting wage was 12, comparable to what the other places have offered. And then said, see ya tonight.

We talked that morning on the phone, he had the opportunity to tell me then, that there was no job.

Maybe kids stage just to see, but I'm looking for work. I'm not interested in just seeing.
post #10 of 21
Thread Starter 
*maybe not just kids, but not me. Not now.
post #11 of 21

Alex, After knowing what you now know would you really want to work for a chef like that. One door closes another one opens......Good luck, the world is open for business just down the street. 

post #12 of 21

So here is what I think of our industry turning into a bunch of "exposure and experience" whores. This is becoming a norm that I believe is completely unnecessary in any creative field.....period! It would be unheard of to ask a doctor or lawyer to work for a free trial so it is unreasonable to ask any other profession whatever it may be. We complain in this industry about when charities and other organizations do not want to pay for our time and effort when it comes to them asking for us to do free dinners or appetizers for the pleasure of exposure at one of their events. We rail against this as we state that the only exposure we get is to get others asking for the same thing.....FREE EXPOSURE OR EXPERIENCE. I have had the pleasure of working for some world renowned chefs and they would never ask me to stage for them for free simply because of the so called "exposure or experience" I can write on my resume. That does not pay the bills!! This is so overdone in our industry now that every chef hiring knows that if a person puts "worked with Anthony Bourdain" on their resume it ends up meaning squat because we know that it was just a stage. The reality of your head chef yelling or browbeating you constantly, getting relentlessly bullied in a kitchen unnecessarily, or getting used for free labour is NOT OKAY. The fact that we are so used to this that we call it the norm is NOT OKAY. It is called "EXPLOITATION".

Have a read....interesting to say the least and progressively getting worse: http://wilwheaton.net/2015/10/you-cant-pay-your-rent-with-the-unique-platform-and-reach-our-site-provides/

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/food-and-wine/food-trends/a-cycle-of-exploitation-how-restaurants-get-cooks-to-work-12-hour-days-for-minimum-wage-or-less/article26999168/

 

@alexisanaiss You do have a right to be peeved at that chef for not letting you know that the position was filled and they were looking down the road at other positions in the future for another restaurant. The simple truth could be that he had a person call in sick that night for line and they got a free worker to fill the gap for that evening. It is a frustrating possibility. You will find in the civilian world, people do not understand nor appreciate what true communication really is. You must ask for what you need from them and if they are not willing to give it then do not stage for them. There are plenty of jobs out there and someone with your military background and experience I would take on in a split second.....screw the stage! Always state what you want and what you are willing to give and let the cards fall where they may. Congrats on the job offer and I wish you all the best in you culinary career! :D

post #13 of 21
Thread Starter 
@ChefBillyB definitely not. Throughout the entire night I had issues with the lack of professionalism. They did that thing where the treated the one female (besides me) in the the kitchen like a frail little sister. And she pouted and acted accordingly. They spent the whole preshift drawing dicks on each other notes from across the table. It was all very childish. I was surprised based off the restaurants reputation. Actually not, just a group of hipsters.

@FablesableIt's not even that the position filled. It's that they postponed the opening of the second location indefinitely so there is no job at all. He seemed surprised that I would even ask why he had me work for no job.

Also, I am no artist. I am a laborer. Maybe a craftsman. Someone who works 60 hour weeks on a line creating someone else's idea. I love every minute of it. But I definitely don't understand staging for just the "experience". It's work. I went to Kendall college recently and the restaurants in downtown Chicago are definitely used to exploiting young people for free labor, those kids even still paying tuition cause the internships are through the schools. Mind boggling to me.
<a href="/u/68468/Fablesable" data-huddler-embed="href" data-huddler-embed-layout="inline">@Fablesable</a>

All in all, whatever. I got the job, the newest line cook at oak + char and I am so so so excited and grateful!! Thank you everyone for your voices.
post #14 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by alexisanaiss View Post

@ChefBillyB definitely not. Throughout the entire night I had issues with the lack of professionalism. They did that thing where the treated the one female (besides me) in the the kitchen like a frail little sister. And she pouted and acted accordingly. They spent the whole preshift drawing dicks on each other notes from across the table. It was all very childish. I was surprised based off the restaurants reputation. Actually not, just a group of hipsters.

This is exactly why I like stages, you never know if a given crew will be a good fit. But I agree, I hate working for free on principle. I do this for money, right? But I'd rather not take a job & find out I don't like the atmosphere after.
post #15 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by alexisanaiss View Post

@ChefBillyB definitely not. Throughout the entire night I had issues with the lack of professionalism. They did that thing where the treated the one female (besides me) in the the kitchen like a frail little sister. And she pouted and acted accordingly. They spent the whole preshift drawing dicks on each other notes from across the table. It was all very childish. I was surprised based off the restaurants reputation. Actually not, just a group of hipsters.

 

Alex, your in the beginning years of learning in this business. The hard work and knowledge your getting now is priceless. I have had cooks leave me for .25 cent raise down the road. I told them if their seeking money over knowledge they will be chasing the nickels and dimes all their life. Growing in this business isn't about what your making now. It's about building knowledge to make $1000's  more later. This really isn't about making a Chefs job your final goal. The real money is owning your own business and not having anyone guide and control your future..........I wish you the best.......Chef Bill

post #16 of 21
Thread Starter 
@ChefBillyBThanks Chef Bill! I intend to open my own business in the next 10 - 15 years. I have been learning so much and it has been so amazing. A Chefs job has never been my goal. This is not the beginning of my career. I cooked in the navy for 4.5 years and before that I cooked as for a hotel. I will leave anyone who does not believe in fair compensation and treatment of their employees. I'm sorry but I'm a single mom living in Chicago and .25 cents an hour makes a difference. I am leaving my current place for a 1.50 an hour more that they didn't want to give me. If you do not respect and appreciate the people that work for you then you too will fail. I have no doubts that I have a bright future in the game, but pay is as important to me as education. Right now, at least.

@Grande exactly! A stage for a posted job for a night -- I will totally do, I'd rather make sure he kitchen fits me. Some of these kids stage for weeks though for nothing. I guess it's a different mentality.
post #17 of 21

One thing I haven't seen noted yet is the current job market. I'm not sure about Chicago but my city is struggling to find line level employees with so many places opening. short staffed chefs are bending over backwards to find quality staff. If this is really how this chef is going about hiring than it will catch up to him soon, word spreads fast in this industry, I'm not saying staging for free is bad cause it gives you the opportunity to feel out the kitchen, but he should have at least been upfront about his hiring situation.

post #18 of 21
Thread Starter 
@dvizz410 there is a huge shortage of line cooks out here for sure. I was just reading an article about it in the Tribune. Had he informed me that there was no job, I would not have staged for the night. This ain't no Alinea! The place is not that special. Just another pop up hipster restaurant. Thanks again everyone for he contribution! Arriba y adelante!!
post #19 of 21

I agree with Fablesable, working without pay  is exploitation there is no two ways about it. A lot of places have staging(experienced) chefs picking lettuce or peeling broad beans all day.....I might be a bit subjective because the whole idea of staging just gets on my nerves nowadays especially one day or 1 week stages. Correct me if I am wrong but when I go and do agency jobs it takes me a  couple of days just to know where the equipment is and how things work don't tell me that you can soak up any knowledge in this time never mind get the philosophy of the place/chef or the way they do things.... I know a chef that never gets agency/cover for his chefs when they go on holidays, he just gets people on trial shifts, all day ones. I think that all of us can change things though, nowadays I only get people for 3-4 hours in the kitchen to try and see how they get on with other members of staff,  and how they move...If I give them the job I make sure they get paid for their time on the trial, but this is by no means common practice. So when you come in the position to hire chefs just think of your experiences and try and do better.

post #20 of 21

Alex, Is stuck between a rock and a hard place. She does a stage thinking she will be treated fairly. The Chef doesn't know or care what her situation is, he's out for himself. I think Alex saw what she needed to see with her stage. The cooks were a bunch of dicks and the Chef can't be trusted. Thats not a bad evaluation in the time she spent there. I know she feels it was a waste of time but, what she really learned was that she wouldn't really want to work there. Alex is a single Mom working in a heartless, thankless profession. My advice would be in many ways exactly what she's doing. She is trying to make as much money as possible while learning everything she could. In my years in this profession the people that were promoted were the ones that went the extra yard. The employees that understood that taking care of my customers was important. I gave 110% to my clients, I needed employees helping me succeed not fighting the system. In many cases the best cook didn't get the Sous job. It was the person I could trust to run the business like I wanted it run. I have seen some really good line cooks that couldn't make it any farther because of their attitude. You need to be a people person that understands customer service and how important it is to the success of a restaurant. Over my years I had more people coming back to my food services because of how they were treated by myself and my staff. The food and service better be there, a feeling of really caring and making the customer feel like they are the only ones in the restaurant is priceless. The front line cook I wanted to work with knew how to work well under controlled chaos. These people knew how to work under pressure, gave great customer service and enjoyed just being good at what they do. It's nice having a beer with a person like this after work. There are going to be dicks in every kitchen. Don't let them suck you into their culture........Happy everything worked out for you. Don't hurry knowledge, learn what you can from everyone. You will do just fine......Chef Bill

post #21 of 21

A tough situation!  I'm glad it worked out, Alex (getting the job you wanted, at least).  I see ChefBilly's point, it sucks to lose someone over $.25/ hour.  But I've also been a young cook struggling to make ends meet, and there were times I paid for gas with change I scrounged literally from under the couch cushions.  So year, a quarter and hour can be the difference between having meat for dinner on your day off or having boxed mac & cheese.  On the other side, as a chef I really don't take it personally when someone leaves over money, or for any other reason really.  I lost a cook a couple months back that got the chance to run a catering biz- how could I fault him for that?  And I've lost cooks that just didn't buy into my kitchen philosophies.  It sucks to be short staffed and have to work for a month without a day off but in the long run I'd rather do that til I dropped than have to work with someone fighting me every day.

 

We've reached the point where Capital owns everything and Labor has virtually no power at all. So I absolutely see where someone would be pissed off to work all nite for free and with no job even being open.  If the "pay" is simply experience then the Chef better have a helluva lot to teach the person donating their evening.

"Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit." - Aristotle
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"Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit." - Aristotle
Reply
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