Finding a cooking job overseas

Discussion in 'General Culinary School Discussions' started by nicko, Nov 28, 2005.

  1. nicko

    nicko Founder of Cheftalk.com Staff Member

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    There was a fair amount of discussion in the externships thread about working abroad and I thought it would be good to get a discussion going on what is involved with working abroad. I think it would be very useful for all of us to share tips on how we got their, found a job, what happened etc.

    I did not do an externship overseas as I felt it was too short a time to go all the way over to Europe to work just to come back in five months. On top of that I didn't really know anyone to tell you the truth so I stuck with the states. However after school I made a good friend who had worked in both France and Switzerland and he was able to hook me up with a couple week to two week stints. It is worth noting that I tried going through two chefs that I worked with before and it was a long waiting game, writing a formal request in one instance and sending it all the way to France. In the end these two chefs I think we just two darn busy to help a lowly culinary grad. My friend who helped me simply called over there and the people said yes the rest was up to me.

    I left the states with a one way ticket and made my way to Bourg En Bresse France and introduced myself. They asked me how long I would stay and I told them i could only stay a week but would like to stay longer if that was ok. They gave me a place to sleep and fed me twice a day. After a week it was time for me to go and I asked the chef if he would have me back and he said yes just to call him when I was done in Switzerland. A coupe of important points to share here:
    • No working papers
    • Did not get paid anything in France just a nice room to stay in and a couple mealsI
    • I initiated an offer to stay longer
    • Cleaned more than any other place I have worked in
    • Did not speak French
    • The restaurant I worked in was a 1 star (much easier to get into)
    Switzerland was different I arrived and worked about 3 weeks total (worked my but off), and hit it off with the owner and his wife. It was a big shop and they moved me around quite a bit. After 3 weeks he asked if I would stay because the holidays were coming up and I said yes but I need a place to stay. They found me a really nice room which they paid for and they paid me some pocket money. This is far more dangerous than what I was doing in France and if I would of been caught I would of been asked to leave the country. All in all I stayed a little over 8 months.

    There is more to my story but I will stop for now to hear what others have to say. The main thing I learned about getting a job overseas is:
    • You don't necessarily need workign papers especially if your not going two be working very long.
    • Don't go for the big places try for a 1-2 establishment, you will learn more.
    • Go to the islands (Greek) during the season (April - Oct) and you will always be able to get a job. Likwise head to the ski resorts in the alps during the winter season and you will have no problem getting a job.
    • Work hard and show them your serious (don't complain) and initiate opportunities to stay longer.
    Anyone else have some tips or experiences to share? Hope my comments are helpful.
     
  2. someday

    someday

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    Great post thats good advice. I've often thought of doind something like that--how did you get past the language barrier, if I may ask? Was it difficult?
     
  3. nicko

    nicko Founder of Cheftalk.com Staff Member

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    In France it was tough I had to rely on just common sense and some broken English from the Sous Chef. In Switzerland just about everyone spoke English. Itally was the toughest because no one spoke English but again just using your common sense in the kitchen can get you pretty far.