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

Joined Feb 16, 2013
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.
Joined Mar 12, 2014
 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.
Joined May 13, 2016
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!
Joined May 19, 2014
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... 
Joined Aug 15, 2003
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. 
Joined Dec 18, 2017
My first job in a casual, fine dining restaurant was a seafood, steak restaurant on the east coast. I was a walk in, not in response to an ad. I offered to work for a week for free so that the chef could see my skills and work ethic. The benefit to this was; 1) I got to see the restaurant In action. 2) They got to see me in action and access my skills, knowlledge and work ethic. even if they didn't need me, or want me, I could use them as a reference, and, or they could refer me to a restaurant that they knew was hiring. (assuming they found my skills, energy, and work ethic acceptable. (I was 64 years old at the time.)
They did hire me at the time, and i worked there for 6 years. I left when the owners went through 5 chefs in one year. Two of the chefs offered me jobs at their new restaurant's.
I think that if you really want to work for a chef you should give him or her an opportunity to see you for longer than a shift.

Another thing to think about, is unless you have the talent, skills and desire to be a world class chef the industry is not very lucrative for journeyman, cooks and chefs.
I love working in a busy restaurant kitchen, however i did not have the time (years) to improve my skills to the master level. I think you have to love the trade to stay in it,, the hours are long, the work is hard, and when the owners are trying to cut corners, the feeling that using low grade materials is discouraging.
I loved when a diner made a point to complement us in the kitchen.
Joined Feb 8, 2017
I did my first working interview at a fine dining place in Cleveland this past spring. Looking back, I didn’t do so well. I was nervous and made some dumb mistakes. I called to check in after, but then never heard from them again...

I’m now employed at a fine dining restaurant elsewhere, and can certainly see how much I’ve improved. And I still think the most important thing as an applicant is to seek feedback for ways you can improve as a cook. If you get the gig, awesome. If not, keep learning and try harder next time.
Joined Sep 3, 2018
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 ise 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.

if the stage longer than 1 hour without pay, it will be totally a scam, exploitation, even obvious if you are (your own restaurant's chef and owner), cause you already know your working environment (kitchen), is easy to spot if a man works well on kitchen stuff (like use knife to cut meat and vegetable, checking on fridge, check temperature according HACCP standard....), then the watershed is here, the new guy always look clumsy when working under the stage of the restaurant's unfamiliar dish, special presentation, various plating method, different cooking procedure, not knowing the location of ingredient...etc. (aka as restaurant's kitchen unique arrangement). Because this kind of scenario is easy to estimate and understand, especially you are a chef and owner. My advise is : "don't act stupid"
Joined Oct 10, 2005
From a thread that originated in 2011, this one sure has “legs”.

For me, the ideal trial is 2-3 hours, and that point of perspective comes from me being an employee as well as an employer.

From the employee’s point of view:
Is the kitchen a dung-hole? Garbage all over the place, equipment abused and broken?

Is the Chef a screamer? Other staff members A-holes?

Can I learn something there?

Will I get enough hours/is the pay decent?

From the employer’s point of view:

Is the guy/gal a total dip Wad?

Will I/my staff spend countless hours training this person up?

Will this person destroy equipment/cost me money?

Will this person be abusive on my staff?

So for me, a trial works both ways. As an Employee, I’d rather work 2 hours free then quit my current job and only find out a week later that the new job is a nightmare. As an Employer, I’d rather pay someone $100 in cash and have them walk away with no liability then to hire them and find out a week later that they are abusive, nasty little s.o.b.’s
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