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

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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
 
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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
 
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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 /img/vbsmilies/smilies/smile.gif
 
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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.
 
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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.
 
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Chris  True but they are teaching them somthing, this guy is just looking for free labor.
 
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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.
 
 
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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
 
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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.
 
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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.
 
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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.
 
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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. 
 
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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.
 
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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.
 
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