What to bring/wear to restaurant interview stage?

Joined Feb 13, 2018
I have no professional kitchen experience and was upfront about this when I asked about a job at a casual Italian restaurant. They said I'd might be able to start at the pizza station and to come for a few hours to stage.

I started researching what to expect and discovered it seems standard to bring your own knife kit and to show up in chef's attire, though neither of these requirements were mentioned to me. Only problem: I don't own any nice knives or chef's pants/shoes! I'd buy the proper things if I got the job (and am going to get a chef's knife right now), but I don't want to get ahead of myself.
  1. Do you think the chef expects me to bring my own knives, tasting spoons, etc. if they know I don't have formal experience?
  2. Do you think I'd be doing any knife work during my stage? I'm assuming pizza station = forming pies and putting down toppings?
  3. What should I wear for pants and shoes if I don't have chef's pants or shoes?
Joined Aug 15, 2003
Just call the chef and ask him or her what they want. No big deal. Just let them know that you don't own any knives or clothes (but plan on purchasing if you get the job).

Most restaurants have knives you'll be able to borrow. If you can swing it you might go out and get a vicotrinox 8 inch knife or something to start you off...has the advantage of being sharp right out of the box.

Yes, I would expect to do knife work.
Joined Apr 6, 2014
Show Up on Time , do not late
that means at least 10 minutes before the appointment.Chefs are busy ,is it possible to lose sense of time about appointment.
Put Your Phone Away
You have to make a good first impression. To make good impression you have to show how prepared you are, well prepared clearly shows that - You want to work-

"I don't own any nice knives or chef's pants/shoes"
  • we are born and live with our body, there is nothing more important than protecting your body , your health at work. Good uniform is a piece of it. You will find other job, but not body replacement or health . Thermal shirt , Good chef jacket /layered fabric with sweat protection/. Stay in comfort and dry. Good safety pants with Belt.
  • nice knife are not brand , not fancy … nice knife are 1.Sharp 2.Comfortable in to Your hand / its your knife , remember?/ 3. practice it , mastered it.
  • pants with belt, make sure your underwear , hair, sweat , can not be seen.
  • Real safety shoes , not Crocs , flip flops …etc.
  • Cooking thermometer , good spatula , Marker pen /a lot of things need to be label/
  • Comfortable Good apron , heat ,water resistant if possible .
  • Hat
  • if you have a problem with your eyes, safety glasses, a lot of heat comes from this oven
"I'd buy the proper things if I got the job (and am going to get a chef's knife right now"
- Buy real professional proper things before . If you intended to work in to this field. Clearly shows , you takes seriously what you doing. Part of good first impression , remember ?

"Do you think the chef expects me to bring my own knives, tasting spoons,"
- Chef expects you to show how ready you are . Prepared means READY , You want that job , or not ?

"Do you think I'd be doing any knife work during my stage?"
Certainly . Many ingredients ask for.

You will be taken seriously, as much as you take your self seriously
Good luck
Joined Feb 8, 2009
Black pants and a white shirt would be fine. It's not like your going to Wall Street for a 500K hedge fund interview. It's really stupid of a chef to ask you to stage. The keyword in the interview and application should have been " NO Professional Kitchen Experience". Show up looking clean and well groomed. Bring a willingness to learn and just be yourself. If "yourself" sucks then be someone else. I've hired 100's of people who had no experience, but showed a willingness to learn and had good people skills. The pizza station will be a good place to start. It will give you a chance to learn and practice knife skills. Just remember, no one expects all that much from you right now. It doesn't matter where you start in the kitchen, it matters where you end up.....Go Luck!.........ChefBillyB
Joined Jul 28, 2001
Ditto chefbillyb chefbillyb , My State doesn't recognize staging or trying out someone. This is also true of most states insurance. So keep aware of what's happening around you and be safe.
Like Billy, show up well groomed, shaven. (finger nails,etc.)groom anything that may lead someones thoughts to unsanitary habits. Dress in black pants and a white shirt. A casual Italian restaurants screams white cotton tee at the pizza station, but probably not appropriate.
Joined Jun 8, 2017
Ahh, my first affair with cooking. The good ole pizza station. Fine dining is where they expect you to have your own knives. As far as clothing: black pants if you have (if not jeans work just fine) and a black or white t-shirt. The restaurant will more than likely have knives you can practice with there (cutting pizza toppings). Bring a good attitude and a notebook doesn't hurt either. Good luck! Pizza is always fun.
Joined Oct 1, 2006
Loads of great advice here!

But nobody asked "What are the people that work there wearing?"
OK, Casual Italian, how casual were the folks making Pizza? Were they in Blue jeans or Chef attire?

Pay attention to detail.
As far as knife cuts, make sure you have an example. Your cuts must be as close as you can get them to the size they show you!

Let the Chef know that you don't want to waste anything. Don't throw anything away unless told to. "What do I do with the trimmings?"
The Chef MAY want everything put in a stock pot or he MAY want you to throw scraps away.

The dried, inedible parts of an onion cost the same price per pound as the part you eat.
Joined Aug 15, 2003
Thank you so much, everybody! Calling ahead to ask was the best plan for me. I was able to borrow knives and clothes and had a successful trial!

I win!

haha just kidding. Glad it went well. Hope you get the job (assuming that's what you want).

What kind of stuff did they have you do? What did you think?
Joined Feb 13, 2018
Yes, I got the job and have been happily working there for the past few weeks!

I had to cut a lot of veggies and then was paired with the garde manger for the night, who taught me recipes as the orders came in and would test me ("what is this plated on?" "which dressing?") and also teach terminology and kitchen convention. As the night went on, I took on more responsibility and was operating mostly independently though alongside the other garde manger (who was helping with grill/prep) in case I needed help.
Joined Oct 1, 2006
OK, OK...
Let us hear it again!

You are having a blast!!!

Yeah, a little frustrating you aren't faster, better yet and still make some mistakes but...

You have plenty of happy moments that allow you to see where you can go!

Keep at it! WooHoo!
Joined Jun 6, 2017
sounds like a real good first gig! people willing to teach, and you willing to learn! Make the best out of it! Congrats!
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