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Working in Europe


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28 replies to this topic

#1 Qwerty

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Posted 01 July 2007 - 06:43 PM

So...one of my mid to long term goals is to work at least 6 months to a year in a Michelin starred restaurant in Europe...preferably Spain or the UK...but I don't know how to go about getting started.

I know I need more experience under my belt, which of course I am working on now, but how/should one apply for a VISA? How does one do that? How to get a paying job through e-mail and phone, housing, etc?

Anyone done it before? Tips, suggestions, etc?

Like I said, this is probably a good 3-5 years away, (maybe a little less, we'll see how I progress) but never to early to get started.

Thanks.

#2 Chef_on_the_go

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Posted 02 July 2007 - 08:41 AM

Good luck!! I'm in France right now. There is no way to know what the immigration policy will be 3-5 years from now. I got very very lucky. I would either suggest being placed by a school, or have your chef personally place you. It's all a "who you know" thing over here. I can also recommend AIPT You pay them, but they do all the work and you can get a longer stay. But finding housing is up to you. I would really suggest having your chef send you to somebody he knows!! Currently, it is almost impossible to get a work visa in the EU. The employer has to sponsor you and apply for the visa. The only way this really works is if you are with a company and they are transferring you. Maybe if you can work at Four Seasons or Ritz Carlton, they can get you over there. You could use your free time and network to find something that you would prefer to do.

#3 kpzachary

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Posted 02 July 2007 - 01:05 PM

There are many ways to go about this. First I have a couple of questons before I give a full reply.
Are you out of school yet?
Do you speak any foreign languages?
Have you ever visited Europe as a tourist?

#4 pennylane

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Posted 02 July 2007 - 04:30 PM

This is going to sound a little crazy, but I know a lot of people who have done this: apparently if you can find an Irish great-grandparent somewhere in your lineage you can get an EU passport really quickly and easily. After that it should be no problem working here. I know this sounds crazy but it's more common than one might think.

#5 Qwerty

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Posted 02 July 2007 - 10:48 PM

Thanks for the replies.

Yes, I am out of school. I speak a little Spanish...not much else. My English is quite good though :)

I have never been to Europe, though I am planning a trip to Spain in September. I won't be able to work on this trip--it is not purely a vacation--but I'm sure I will get to absorb some culture and food.

Keep in mind, again, that my plan is not to do this for another few years. I know I need to grow as a cook before I can accomplish this...and it may yet work itself out. I know a lot of chefs have connections overseas, so maybe the opportunity will come through hard work.

Again, thanks for the replies. Keep them coming.

#6 kpzachary

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Posted 03 July 2007 - 08:10 AM

I wish you the best of luck. For an American Chef, assuming you are American, finding lawful paying employment in all European countries can be very complicated and frustrating. It can be so complicated that I don't know where to start.

First, I suggest going to the countries you are interested in to experience some of the food and culture. Since you are going to Spain, try to find time to go to the UK when you are there. There are a lot of low cost carriers flying between the UK and Spain. When you are in the countries try to go to the restaurants you are interested in. I went to Germany on a vacation and I knew right away that I wanted come back to live here. I saved a lot of money and came here to Berlin six months ago with the goal of staying here for a long time.

When you decide where you want to go, go to that country's American embassy website. It will have information on how to apply for a visa. Here in Germany, Americans can stay without a visa for three months. When I got here I applied for a tourist visa extention. This gave me six months total to find a job.

I sarted applying to all the top restaurants in Berlin. (tip: convert your resume into a European style CV in the country's native language.) It was very hard and frustrating searching for a job here. I have a lot of experience, some of it managment, from four and five star restaurants. I was willing to take a step back to a Chef de partie or Demi Chef de partie because my German was by no means perfect. This was a problem. Chefs did not want to hire me for a Chef de partie position because I had too much experience. I would be moving a lot faster than the younger more inexperienced cooks and this would bring imbalance to the line. I understood this but it was so frustrating. Mostly because Chefs didn't want to hire me for a Sous Chef position because I didn't speak enough German. I was between a rock and a hard place. Unstead of giving up, which was not an option, I started taking a German language coarse and and doing stages at all the best restaurants here in Berlin. I learned a lot but I was running out of time and money.

Then, one day my luck got a little better. I was hired for a Chef de partie position in a five star American owned hotel with a stared restaurant. I was so relieved. (They gave me an unlimited contract. Everyone has a contract in Europe, usually for 12 to 18 months. An unlimited contract is very unusual. This is one thing you must think about. You wrote that you are thinking about six months to a year. Six month paid contracts usually do not exist.)

Then, things got real complicated. It is next to impossible for an American Chef to get a full EU work visa. You must apply through the country in which you work. In Germany you apply through the state. I am in Berlin and it is itself a state. If I applied in Munich I could work in all of Bavaria. If I want to move to another city, I have to apply for another visa. First, I went to an office with all the appropriate applications, photos, proof of employment, my passport, and proof that I don't have a crimainal record in my home state or here in Germany. Then this office sends these items to another office. They decide if I can be granted a residence visa. With this residence visa I get a work visa which I have to reapply for every 12 months.

I waited for about a month before I got a reply letter in the mail. This was not good! They wrote me saying that since the unemployment level is so high in the state of Berlin, and there are so many cooks without jobs in the state of Berlin, I have to leave the country by the end of July, for at least three months. If I don't leave, they will "make" me, and I can never return to any EU country. Very nice! It turns out that if I would have applied in any other state in Germany, like Bavaria, or North Rhine Westfalia, I would have been granted my visa.

Thankfully, the hotel has a contact within the office which provides the work permts. They are now suppose to go to the office that supplies the residence visas and convence them that I am the only one who can match the job requirements.

I hope that you can learn from my experience. It has been very hard but I have always believed that things worth doing are things worth fighting for. Although it has been a struggle I have really enjoyed everyday here.

#7 Timh

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Posted 03 July 2007 - 08:42 AM

I took a friends position at a 1* as he left for a 3*. Went
over on a tourist visa and worked for free for six months, the deal was I could have a small room over the restaurant but draw no pay, or he would pay me but I would have to find my own place. I chose the free rent. After six months i made chef de partie and drew a small salary(like 500 fr/wk), stayed for almost 2yrs. I tried to work in Madrid, but the strict immigration policies and the rapid fire kitchen castillian spanish was too much for me. You must speak the language, wherever you go.

#8 NoCallNoShow

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Posted 20 May 2009 - 03:09 PM

So, Im still relatively young in my cooking career, but I have had the opportunity to do some traveling and cooking in some phenomenal kitchens. I did some staging outside London, but I couldn't afford to stay longer than a few months paying my way and not receiving compensation. So my question is this. I want to go back to Europe, but I want to get paid, so I can stay for more than a few months, particularly Italy. How do I get a Visa to allow me to work and get paid? Im 26, My lease is now month to month, I have no wife, no kids, and my window of opportunity to do something like this is getting smaller by the day. Help!
"If you aint having fun, you should be doing something else........."

#9 prasantrin

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Posted 20 May 2009 - 03:46 PM

If one of your grandparents or great-grandparents happened to be an Irish citizen, you could apply for Irish citizenship. That would make you a citizen of the EU, and free to work in any of the EU countries.

#10 NoCallNoShow

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Posted 20 May 2009 - 06:27 PM

Yea I have heard of that, unfortunatly no Irish in the family..
"If you aint having fun, you should be doing something else........."

#11 Smitty

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Posted 20 May 2009 - 07:54 PM

If one of your grandparents or great-grandparents happened to be an Irish citizen, you could apply for Irish citizenship.  That would make you a citizen of the EU, and free to work in any of the EU countries.

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I am also interested in this type of apprenticeship after I finish my bachelor's in the states (in a year and a half). I would need to be paid in order to swing such an adventure.

My grandmother was an English citizen, my great-grandparents on the other side immigrated from Germany and Poland. What are my options for getting permission to work in the EU?

#12 JudyB

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Posted 21 May 2009 - 05:48 AM

If one of your grandparents or great-grandparents happened to be an Irish citizen, you could apply for Irish citizenship.  That would make you a citizen of the EU, and free to work in any of the EU countries.

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I am also interested in this type of apprenticeship after I finish my bachelor's in the states (in a year and a half). I would need to be paid in order to swing such an adventure.

My grandmother was an English citizen, my great-grandparents on the other side immigrated from Germany and Poland. What are my options for getting permission to work in the EU?

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I don't think that having an English grandmother is enough these days to get British citizenship. Even then it is normally a fairly slow process (unless you are the next Zola Budd :biggrin: ), but 1.5 years might be long enough. This is what the British Passport and Identity service says on the subject:

At present, only children born on or after 1st January 1983 can automatically be British solely because of their mother's birth in the UK.

Take a look a their website (here) for more details. That site will also have links to various other government web sites about work permits etc.

In Britain at least they have been tightening up the rules for getting work permits, although (being British) I haven't looked in detail at the rules. What I do know is that you need a job to be able to get a work permit and that the employer has to be able to show that they cannot fill the post by recruiting in Britain. Even when you do have a work permit this is not a permanent right to work so if, for example, you change your employer you would need to apply for a new one.

The exact rules will vary for different countries within the EU, but I think that the only way of being free to work anywhere in the EU is to get citizenship of an appropriate country. Note that some countries (including Britain) have also limited the right to work for citizens of the most recent EU members to join (due to local pressure on jobs).

The rules for students are slightly different, but for that you would need to be a genuine student and I don't know if there is any way that a "trainee" type post might qualify.

#13 Smitty

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Posted 21 May 2009 - 07:18 AM

Thank you for the information

#14 ambra

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Posted 21 May 2009 - 07:21 AM

If you want to go to Italy, there is an Expats in Italy (called just that) website that specializes in informing people on how to do exactly what you are looking to do.

#15 Dave Hatfield

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Posted 21 May 2009 - 08:45 AM

There are several legal options I can think of. Here they are in no particular order.

- Get accepted at a accredited school or university as a student. Once successfully into your courses options to obtain a work visa may will open up. Take a close look at what's available in all of the main EEC countries first though.

- Marry an EEC citizen. Easier to meet & fall in love if you've succeeded at the option above. Once married you should be able to get a resident visa and be able to work.

- Apply at lots & lots of restaurants for a job. The odds are low, but you just might get one to sponsor you for a work visa. Use any contacts you have mercilessly to try to help.

Not legal. but the easiest is to work 'on the black'. There are a lot of places that will hire kitchen help at a low wage (but nonetheless a wage). You'd probably have to move around quite a lot. And you could get lucky and have one of these places sponsor you for a visa.

Unfortunately, its just not that easy to get into the EEC to work these days. You can fairly easily come over and stay for quite a long time (I know somebody who has just gone back to the states after 20 illegalmonths in Europe) so long as you don't try to work or use the social services.

Good luck!

#16 Smitty

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Posted 21 May 2009 - 05:32 PM

If you want to go to Italy, there is an Expats in Italy (called just that) website that specializes in informing people on how to do exactly what you are looking to do.

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Thanks. Italy is one of the countries I am most interested in (Spain and France being the others). I will look into that group.

There are several legal options I can think of. Here they are in no particular order.

- Get accepted at a accredited school or university as a student. Once successfully into your courses options to obtain a work visa may will open up. Take a close look at what's available in all of the main EEC countries first though.

- Marry an EEC citizen. Easier to meet & fall in love if you've succeeded at the option above. Once married you should be able to get a resident visa and be able to work.

- Apply at lots & lots of restaurants for a job. The odds are low, but you just might get one to sponsor you for a work visa. Use any contacts you have mercilessly to try to help.

Not legal. but the easiest is to work 'on the black'. There are a lot of places that will hire kitchen help at a low wage (but nonetheless a wage). You'd probably have to move around quite a lot. And you could get lucky and have one of these places sponsor you for a visa.

Unfortunately, its just not that easy to get into the EEC to work these days. You can fairly easily come over and stay for quite a long time (I know somebody who has just gone back to the states after 20 illegalmonths in Europe) so long as you don't try to work or use the social services.

Good luck!

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Lots of good info there, thanks. This seems like the most likely option for me. I have thought about doing some culinary specific training after completing my BS in Food Science and if that could open the door to work in Europe all the better.

#17 Felice

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Posted 27 May 2009 - 12:12 PM

There are several legal options I can think of. Here they are in no particular order.

- Get accepted at a accredited school or university as a student. Once successfully into your courses options to obtain a work visa may will open up. Take a close look at what's available in all of the main EEC countries first though.

View Post


Lots of good info there, thanks. This seems like the most likely option for me. I have thought about doing some culinary specific training after completing my BS in Food Science and if that could open the door to work in Europe all the better.

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Just wanted to add that Dave is right, in France, if you have a student visa it usually allows you to work legally for 20 hours a week. I say usually because this is not a blanket rule for all schools and depending on where and what you are studying it can change.

Also in France there is an exchange program with the US for those under 35 (I think that is the cut off age) that will help you get your visa to work for 18 months once you have a job lined up, but I believe you need to have a university degree. If this sounds interesting you can PM me for more details. I looked into this a few years ago and I assume it is still around.
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#18 ambra

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Posted 27 May 2009 - 01:22 PM

With a student visa, you can work 20 hours in Italy as well.

I wouldn't try to come to/work in Italy illegally. Right now, Italy is trying to toughen up their immigration policy so much so that even tourism is affected.

#19 prasantrin

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Posted 27 May 2009 - 01:40 PM

One more idea--look into working holiday visas. Canada, for example, has reciprocity with several countries which gives "youth" (those under the age of 35) visas to travel and work within a specific country for one year, sometimes renewable for an additional year. I don't know if there's a similar program in the US.

#20 Ross Boyce

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Posted 28 May 2009 - 09:30 AM

The UK offers what's called a "working holiday" visa which allows you 2 years in full, paid employment.

They seem to be reasonably easy to get as well, I've employed lots of Aussies and Saffies who were on them.

#21 JudyB

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Posted 28 May 2009 - 10:26 AM

The UK offers what's called a "working holiday" visa which allows you 2 years in full, paid employment.

They seem to be reasonably easy to get as well, I've employed lots of Aussies and Saffies who were on them.

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Unfortunately no longer. A quick search gives the following information:

Guidance - Working holidaymakers (INF 15)
Last updated 10 December 2008

This immigration route has now closed.  Please refer to INF28 on the PBS Tier 5 Youth Mobility Scheme.

See here for more details including the link to the INF28 information.
You need to look carefully at the full information for "INF28" as it is fairly complex but it looks like it is fairly limited at present in terms of the countries which participate in this scheme.

#22 lcdm

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Posted 02 June 2009 - 05:55 AM

My daughter is in Italy as an exchange student (jr in HS) for the full year.
This is from my experience & in speaking with others. I do not know where you live. We had to go to the NYC consulate to apply for a student Visa. 1st I had to make an appointment by phone (which cost per minute - we called a service not the actual embassy, so no asking questions). I think I called in June and got a Sept appt. They are very strict. Which ever consulate you go to look at the consulate website and see what you need http://www.consnewyo...RMODE=Published . Go to other travel site or the expats in Italy site mentioned above (here is one for exchange students - but it may help http://www.cultures-...forum/index.php. If one site says one thing and the other site says another either call or bring both items (from what I remember even the NYC site had different info on different pages).
If they want something notarized get it notarized - even if it does not make sense. I had to have the bank notarize their own doc, the bank told me it was silly but I asked them to do it anyway. The Visa office wanted to see the raised seal. Make three copies of everything one to keep and two for the consulate.
This may seem silly - but dress nicely, speak only when spoken to, be polite, follow all the rules (if it says to stand behind the yellow line - stand behind the yellow line) think of the soup Nazi episode in Seinfeld. If you get sent away because you are missing info - repeat back to them what you need politley, write it down & thank them. Do not argue or say - that the info is not on the site or why do I need that or I know of another person that did not need it. There was a guy standing in front of us in line that was going to culinary school in Italy and it was the third time he was back because he did not have the proper documents.
One lady argued and they told her to come back in 6 months. When she said she would just go to Spain and get the Visa the consulate women blacklisted her in all the Schengen Countries (I guess they talk to each other).
I think getting a work Visa for Italy will be difficult because their economy is bad and Americans are not tops on their list right now. I don't mean to discourage you - just to make you aware.
Good Luck

#23 Timh

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Posted 02 June 2009 - 10:09 AM

The unemployment rate in Spain is @ 18% at the moment. Its going to be difficult to impossible to work in Europe at the moment, unless its for free.

#24 brandonscott

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Posted 22 June 2009 - 12:07 PM

For the last few years I have been giving a lot of thought to working in a kitchen overseas, and get out of the U.S. for a while. I figure I should do it while I am still young. Some of the countries I have considered from time to time are France, England, Spain, Italy, Japan, Australia, Chile, or just about anywhere that has good food. My problem.....I have no idea where to start. Has anybody worked abroad? How did you go about doing so? Maybe you havn't worked in another country but know how to go about doing it. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks guys and gals
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#25 pastrygirl

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Posted 22 June 2009 - 03:48 PM

I just returned from almost 2 years in the Himalayas, a job I got through word of mouth. I had worked with the exec chef at a previous job, he'd heard about the job from the people who'd had it before, etc.

There are a variety of recruiters and placement services, google can help you find those. The foreign job market is pretty tight right now. People who still have jobs are tending to stay where they are instead of moving around, and as most of these jobs are in hotels or hospitality related, the downturn in Americans traveling abroad is affecting business and hiring. For example, in April I'd emailed back and forth with a recruiter about a position in the Maldives, but the company had decided to put hiring on hold until the busy season later in the year.

You should prepare a CV (curriculum vitae) which is a little more detailed than a typical American resume. Recruiters are going to want your age and marital status as well as a photo.

There is probably a greater market for American chefs in Asia than in Europe. What French or Italian hotel is going to hire an American over one of their own? I haven't found any recruiters that specialize in Australia, and job ads online always seem to specify 'must be able to work in Oz', so short of emigrating, or doing the backpacker-seasonal fruit picking thing Oz might be a difficult place to find work. Don't know about Central or South America, haven't looked there because I'm afraid my Spanish skills wouldn't cut it.

#26 brandonscott

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Posted 03 July 2009 - 01:13 PM

Thanks for the info...One thing I hadn't really thought of was working for a large hotel chain, i.e. Four seasons or the Hilton, and transfering to an overseas location. Probably the easiest and "safest" route...."safest", meaning you have a job already and wont get stuck in a foreign country.

#27 pastrygirl

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Posted 04 July 2009 - 07:38 AM

Thanks for the info...One thing I hadn't really thought of was working for a large hotel chain, i.e. Four seasons or the Hilton, and transfering to an overseas location.  Probably the easiest and "safest" route...."safest", meaning you have a job already and wont get stuck in a foreign country.

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There may be a minimum time you need to work with the company before they will transfer you, like a year. Still, that may be a good plan for the long-term planners.

#28 brandonscott

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Posted 05 July 2009 - 10:01 AM

Thanks for the info...One thing I hadn't really thought of was working for a large hotel chain, i.e. Four seasons or the Hilton, and transfering to an overseas location.  Probably the easiest and "safest" route...."safest", meaning you have a job already and wont get stuck in a foreign country.

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There may be a minimum time you need to work with the company before they will transfer you, like a year. Still, that may be a good plan for the long-term planners.

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I agree. But a year of work vs. a year or more of trying to go through the proper channels for a work visa, just to get turned down. I'll take the year of work any day.

#29 rafifood

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Posted 10 June 2013 - 08:30 AM

Hey guys I just feeling curious that if it is possible to get a job as a restaurant Chef in any European country? I have completed a 6 months long diploma on Food And Beverage and I do believe I can work as an assistant chef in any 3 to 4 star hotel or restaurant. So if there is any way or formal procedures then please let me know.

 

Thanks in advance for your contribution.  :smile: