any one else have this problem when it comes to Stage in kitchens for potential job?

Joined Oct 23, 2013
ive been wanting to leave my current job for something more fine dining for awhile now, ive been hitting the pavement and filling out countless job applications for a full time position? At almost all the ones i was offered a potential job, i had to come in and stage, which fine, im ok with the staging process.
But ive learned at least the past two or three stages (basically from actual employees) that the place hiring isnt even technically hiring for the position i would come in and stage for. Even more frustrating that a job that advertises their positions as full time, ive come to learn more often times then not that it isnt a full time position at all, much less barely part time.
Is this a new thing with restaurants who are short on hand, just acting like they are hiring and having a new stage come in everyday and do free labor, then actually not offering anything in return??
i dont think its the most ethical thing a place of business should be doing, but ive even heard from my own coworkers that they have faced the same problems with these "fake job openings" not being actual openings, and just turning into free labor..
Opinions, thoughts?
Joined May 25, 2015
Well first of all stop using the term "stage". You are going on a job interview. Most here have no problem with them asking you to spend a couple or three hours demonstrating your skills. However if it turns out that they want you there for a day or a shift then they owe you some money. It's up to you to make this clear during the interview as well as finding out what the hours are for the position. If they are elusive or won't tell you until you put in a day then that probably isn't the kind of place you want to work for anyway.
Joined Mar 15, 2018
The whole idea of a Staging is to try you out. Do you have the skills and knowledge that they are looking for. The other two or three stages your talking about obviously didn’t make the cut. Do you have the drive, knowledge, speed and skill set to work at that level? When you say fine dining. What do you mean. Like French laundry or more like a country club or executive dining?
Joined Sep 26, 2017
From my experience, they really are hiring as advertised...but only for the one that hits all the spots.

If you demonstrated that you're, say, just 80% of what they want, then they might keep you around for something in case the other 20% show up in the future.
Joined Mar 14, 2018
If they brought you into stage then most likely they have an interest in seeing what you can do. If you have the talent then a restaurant isn't going to hesitate to poach you. Good talent is good talent. Are you making the most of your time staging? Also make sure you're not trying to do too much, just do what they ask of you. If you have some idle time during your tryout, grab a broom. You'll land something sooner or later, just keep at it.
Joined May 25, 2015
See, I have a problem with this whole concept. If you were a bricklayer for instance, and applied for a job you wouldn't be expected to build a wall for no pay just so they can see how skilled you are. If you have experience they would hire you then if you didn't work out they would let you go. The restaurant business should be no different. This "staging" or trial thing looks like they are looking for free help. It doesn't help an industry that has the reputation for underpaying their BOH and poverty level wages to begin with.
Joined Mar 1, 2017
Ahhhh....the "stage." IMO, staging is 90% BS and 10% legit but, only to the extent that its reasonable to see what sort of skills the cook is bringing to the table and whether or not the cook will fit in with other kitchen staff.

For my part, whenever I hired a new cook, the interview consisted of two parts. The first part was some face time spent talking to see if I can actually get along with this person and if they will fit in with my staff. The second step was trial by fire during either lunch or dinner rush. If they came prepared knowing the menu etc and could handle the rush, 9 times out of 10 they got hired.

My policy was that I paid them $10/hour in cash (shhhhh....don't tell Uncle Sam) if they were there for more than 2 hours. But, the terms of the "stage" were thoroughly discussed at the outset of the interview. That way, the applicant knew I was serious and I knew the applicant was serious.

I hope this helps. Good luck! :)
Joined Sep 26, 2017
If you have experience they would hire you then if you didn't work out they would let you go. The restaurant business should be no different.

It's easier not to hire the person you're not really sure you want in the first place than to hire and fire.

When you're hiring someone for real, first, you have to go around introducing him/her to everyone that works there. Then you have to show him/her around the whole restaurant and at the same time telling him/her where everything is kept. Then you have to teach him/her all the rules regarding everything. There's also a lot of documentations involved.

I'd never go through all that troubles for someone that will last only a few days.
Joined May 25, 2015
That documentation is there for a reason. What happens if you have someone there for a day and they get hurt? Are they covered by your WC or are they going to sue you? Then they go to the labor board and say that they worked for you for a day and you never paid them.

I really don't think it matters what you want to call it. If you have someone in your restaurant doing work, legally they are an employee and you have to pay them. At least do as sgsvirgil sgsvirgil does and pay them cash for the time that they were there.
Joined Jan 31, 2012
Well no ones directly asked this so I will....

I'd say determining whether or not this stage was BS to get free labor,
depends upon what they had you doing. Did it FEEL like a test? Like
an interview process? Did the Kitchen Manager Head chef "shadow" you,
watching you and how you do things, and adapt to their kitchen setup
and routine? Or did they have you doing grunt work like prepping, running
to the walk-ins, mopping, filling ice buckets and the like?
As to what the other employees "informed you" of, next to meaningless,
as you are a new guy potentially "invading" their turf, not to mention
possibly about to be one of their replacements. This is a very real
sentiment, I and others in here have experienced this "outsider"
feeling before.
Its also a good idea to ask for minimum wage in cash before you agree
to stage. They can pop you 30 clams for the work you came in and
did, no SOTNose.
Joined May 23, 2016
Unfortunately this happens all of the time. Some places have a specific policy that a position "must be posted for x amount of days", they already have someone in mind and in the mean time bring in "interviewees" just in case they MIGHT find someone who is a better fit. (99%) of the time this doesn't happen. Believe me it has happened to me the Executive Chef being at the mercy of the restaurant manager because they want to promote their drinking buddy from the kitchen to Sous Chef, and if I actually had a say in it they would have been fired already.

So before you stage, let them know if you are there for more than 1 - 2 hours you expect payment, if they refuse this, you probably don't want to work there anyway.

Don't think for a minute that just because you didn't get the job you weren't good enough either. When I was younger the executive chef of a place gave me some jobs to do in the kitchen. He told me I had one hour to complete it and was sure I wouldn't be done within 30. (Cleaning grab claws, separating some eggs, and chopping some stuff, making whipped cream). I was done in fifteen minutes and as a result didn't get the job. Why? Well he was so sure I wouldn't be done in 30, never tell your boss he's wrong right? His reason was I was too slow. When I brought this information to his attention, he told me "well we're looking for someone who asks a little more questions". My friend a couple of weeks later said "DUDE I got a job at xxxx" I was like really lol did you have to stage? He said yes, but he just stood around and didn't have to do anything.

Hmm, interesting. It might have been because I told the lead line cook who I was shadowing that he was burning his risotto.

I've also been told I make "other employees look bad" as well. So take that for what you will.

Last year I was actually hired by a restaurant owner to come in and tell her why she was losing money on a restaurant. I came in told her what was going on and well she didn't like what I had to say, so she effectively "fired me" as a contractor. (Raw meat was being stored above ready to eat foods, cases of food just sitting on the floor and not the shelf) Some of the greens had been stacked under a box so long they were white...wrong menu prices resulting in angry customers etc etc etc etc.

All in all the world isn't fair just keep on going and keep on doing what you do you will find the right place. Do not get discouraged because one of the main reasons why you might not be hired is because you are a threat. YES this CAN be a threat to the executive chef as well.

Don't take it too seriously. Just continue to do what you love.
Joined Dec 17, 2013
If this is a concern for you, ask what the stage will consist of during you interview. Ask what the time expectation should be, and if you should study the menu. If you're smart, you'll say you have another stage in the am/pm, so you seem desirable, and can get an actual timeline. If a business is hesitant to give you a time line, and their not a huge name, then they're probably taking advantage. A big name has a lot of people to see, and time and options to find the right person. Everyone else needs an extra body around.
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