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· Registered
60 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Yikes!!! I am staging at a very high end kitchen next Friday and Saturday to "try-out" for the chef before he hires me. I am sweating bullets at the propsect of being slammed on the weekend even though I am only going to be on the cold line. I haven't been in a high-stress kitchen environment for about a year and a half and that was at a caterers. I am going to procure a menu next week to help me prepare.

I was wondering if any chef out there might have a few words of advice on what I could do at home to sharpen my skills? I am going to but a bag of potatoes, onions and carrots just to get chopping, but would like some ideas on what else I might prepare for.

Thanks in advance,


· Super Moderator
8,406 Posts
If possible, obtain a menu. When you get there, talk to the line chefs. They will be watching you as well. Here's what *I* used to watch for.

1) Solid fundamentals.

2) A cool head

3) Solid fundamentals.

4) Good hygiene.

5) Solid fundamentals.

Okay, by solid fundamentals I mean something like the following:

Proper saute technique. Make sure you brown stuff properly, salt and pepper correctly, deglazing, etc.

Know how to properly segment citrus fruit, clean lettuce, peel and dice tomatoes, etc.

Know how to properly make a vinaigrette, an emulsion sauce, grill a NY strip.

Keep it clean.

A lot of chefs have their own little quirks about salt and pepper, ratios for vinaigrettes, their own ways of making beurre blanc, preferred methods for marking steaks, stuff like that. Make sure you ask. Good luck.


· Registered
18 Posts
Hi terrarich,

I think buying potatoes and onions and start chopping is not the answer,hopfully you can do this already.

If it was me I would propably go in one night before the 'BIG WEEKEND' and take a few notes and see what might be expected of me.And I would be there early to ensure my station is properly and sufficiently stocked.

And relax,most chefs are generally just trying to see how
a prospective employee might work with their existing staff,and how you might work under a little pressure.It's pretty easily to spot.I'm only talking from my own experience.

The chef knows your not familiar with his/her menu.A general skill level is more than likely what their looking for.


· Registered
1,006 Posts
Naw....I'm sure Terra has the basics down. Terra is just suffering from the stress of waiting and doesn't want to mess this up. :) Did I get it right Terra?

I know how you feel man. You start second guessing yourself and your skills, till you've almost got yourself convinced that maybe you don't know what you are doing. All I can tell you is to calm down. I dont know what you use to relieve stress but do it. When you show up stressed and high strung you'll start to make unnecessary mistakes. That's not what you want.

You know you can do it. We know you can do it. Now tell that little voice in your head to shut up and let you get to work. :cool:


· Premium Member
5,391 Posts
One thing to not forget about is the person you are staging with. Often times the chef is very busy with other things, and won't have a chance to keep an eye on you all night long. The line chef, who you will be working under, will be the one you have to impress the most, as chances are, he will report to the chef about your preformance. With that in mind, here are a few things to remember.
#1. Don't try to show off or be cocky-one thing that chefs look for is how you work with the established line. I have seen many good cooks not get the job because they just didn't make a good impression on the line cooks

#2. Ask questions!!! Of course you don't know the menu or the chefs little quirks. I always started one of my questions with "this is how I make my that how the chef wants it done. It shows that you are knowledgeble, but also knowledgeble enough to know you don't know everything.

#3. Take notes. I always look for a stage and new cook to carry a little pocket notebook and pen.

#4. Relax! If you have made it as far as having a chance to stage, the chef feels that you might have what it takes. Do what you have trained to do. Don't overanalyze, don't get yourself all worked up, it will hinder you in the long run. Go in with confidence. You have the earned the right to try out, and whether you get the job or not, you have gained an invaluable experience.

#5. Score extra points by staying to help clean up after service. I usually allow my stages to leave after the rush, but am always impressed by a cook who offers to stay and help with clean up.

Hope this helps, and best of luck!!!

· Registered
60 Posts
Discussion Starter · #6 ·
:) Thanks for the advice and support everyone. What an incredible amount of knowledge passed on in such short time. I have already formed a strategy incorporating points from all of your replies:

Do some advance scouting
Take notes, watch, listen, learn
Keep my head straight
Keep myself clean
Keep my station clean
Keep everyone on the line happy
Know that I can do this

Just making the big career change is what is freaking me out. Couple that with the sheer excitement of actually embarking on this path and you can all get why I am anxious. I will rock:D .



· Registered
4,130 Posts
Terra -- you're right, everyone has given you great advice, and you've got it down. The only points I want keep pushing are:

- Keep breathing
- Listen, listen, listen -- and ask questions, but don't challenge!
- Work clean!!!!!!!! and if you have to borrow anything from anyone, return it clean even if it was given to you dirty
- Try to learn one or two of the dishes completely, so that as service gets busy you can offer to do them. Even if it's just the green salad, you'll show the chef that 1. you can learn his/her way quickly, and 2. you are able to DO IT.

You'll find that once service starts, you'll enter "the zone." There is no world outside: only cranking out the plates exists. Keep your head there, and you'll be fine. And yes, we all know you can do it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

And if you can, EAT THERE before you trail. That will definitely give you a leg up.

Keep your eye on the prize (a job doing what you love)!!!

· Registered
818 Posts
Tarrarich my 2 cents , arrive early as much as to 1 hour . help with the stock of your station . Observe and learn all storage areas as well as all items you must need to keep stocked on your line . Keep a pocket knotebook as was mentioned and write down whatever you feel . Flow into the groove of the staff and never say no . Not to be cocky , but an air of I can do it and I will do it will win everybody over . Also outwork everyone , even if you do not know the flow yet . what can I do to help you spoken to your fellow cooks goes miles on a busy line . Lastley try to feel the flow and work with it .
Your skills are there , use them and have fun . Remember its just food and we all do this daily . you shall rock .
your friend in food , Doug ............................
P.S May the force be with you .......................
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