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nonkeyman

Internship and Stage Horror/success Stories

27 posts in this topic

So I just wanted to create a forum for people who have interned and stage to share their horror/success stories. Also, a great place for young cooks to ask about what to expect?

 

I will start, actually it starts the day after my very first hired day.

 

I had interned for 3 months at this fine dining Italian place. I chopped shallots, picked thyme, the works. So the first night I am getting paid we have a thirty top downstairs. I was in charge of quenelling and plating dessert. Of course, as the youngest and least experience guy in the kitchen I was also running around helping everyone else. Suddenly, it is time for dessert, it was a peach Crostata and Olive Oil gelato. Well guess what I forgot to do!


Temper the darn ice cream, I pulled it out and it was rock hard and we needed 30 quennelles! Well, as you can imagine, my Chef was more than displeased. She was a 5'4" ball of terror. She never yelled, or screamed. Nope, she knew exactly what words to say to make you feel worthless.

 

At that moment, she looked at me and asked "Why am I even paying you". Me, I had been working for free for the last 3 months, 50 hours a week. I was 16 and scared of losing my job. Man, that was awful...but I survived....

 

So, tell me your fun stage or internship stories !

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"Sense Of Urgency" -Thomas Keller

86ed Chef's Advice

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Not a horror story as such, more amusing. When I was entering my second year of culinary school everyone was trading war stories of their work placements, and one classmate topped us all. 

 

He was Jewish, and the hotel where he'd interned had him carving the ham at their Easter buffet. Sensitivity training, anyone? :P

 

(Edited to clarify...he himself related it as a funny story, not a "horror story.")


Edited by chromedome clarity (log)
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Fat=flavor

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I don't recall sensitivity training being part of my Culinary Classes. Maybe I skipped it haha. I mean, I am sure they could have put him a million other places on a buffet line. I mean, the prime rib was probably right next to it.

 

It is a funny story. Thank you for sharing!


"Sense Of Urgency" -Thomas Keller

86ed Chef's Advice

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Years ago I was on a business trip with my boss who had spent time on a kibbutz.  As we drove down the highway he suggested we stop for breakfast at his cousin's Jewish restaurant.

 

I marveled that the menu featured bacon and ham.  His reply was "I said it was a Jewish restaurant, I never said it was a Kosher restaurant."

 

My only complaint was the artificial maple syrup.

 

 

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At the restaurant where I worked my way through culinary school, we catered a Jewish wedding once during my tenure. They specifically requested bacon-wrapped scallops, so yeah...definitely there's a distinction to be drawn. 

 

On the more comedic side, a customer once asked if it was possible to get our seafood medley without any shellfish in it. The seafood medley consisted of lobster tail, scallops and large prawns served in and around the emptied shell of the lobster tail, on a bed of citrus-and-saffron scented rice with a sauce based on stock made from the prawn shells. Soooooo....you want a plate with a bit of rice on it? Okay...

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Fat=flavor

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Oh Dear..got to love those request.

 

Not Seafood, but once we had someone come in and hand us a business card of everything they couldn't eat that had like 20 items on it (maybe that had an auto immune diseases or something that is common to be heavily restricted.). Nevertheless, when we go through reading the list, we all thought..."Would she just like water?"


"Sense Of Urgency" -Thomas Keller

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14 hours ago, nonkeyman said:

I actually took a moment to write a little more in depth about my internship if you feel like reading it :)

Sounds about par for the course. :)

 

I was fortunate, I never did an unpaid internship (I was a career changer with a wife and two kids, so that wasn't really an option). The restaurant where I worked my way through school had a female chef as well, but she wasn't one to raise her voice. She'd just gaze at you -- well, me -- in unbelieving silence for a painfully slow moment or two, and then *lower* her voice. I've had a shouter or two along the way, but this was infinitely worse. 

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Fat=flavor

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57 minutes ago, chromedome said:

Sounds about par for the course. :)

 

I was fortunate, I never did an unpaid internship (I was a career changer with a wife and two kids, so that wasn't really an option). The restaurant where I worked my way through school had a female chef as well, but she wasn't one to raise her voice. She'd just gaze at you -- well, me -- in unbelieving silence for a painfully slow moment or two, and then *lower* her voice. I've had a shouter or two along the way, but this was infinitely worse. 

 

I totally understand not having a paid internship. I was 16 (going to culinary School with running start). I couldn't even drive on my own for a while. So my poor parents had to come pick me up at 12 PM...I felt awful.

 

But yes, the way some Chefs choose to state their opinion without shouting..can be down right terrifying, or just self-esteem destroying.

 

What type of food were you cooking at your first place?


"Sense Of Urgency" -Thomas Keller

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It was fine dining. Not international state-of-the-art kind of fine dining, but comparable or superior to anything else in the city (Edmonton, AB) at the time. 


Fat=flavor

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Sounds solid! The place I started at was defiantly not state of the art. We weren't sous viding anything...we just did good food. I went to a fancy molecular gastronomy place afterward...and I hated it.


"Sense Of Urgency" -Thomas Keller

86ed Chef's Advice

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My chef at that place was very fad-averse, so no MG for her either. Her attitude was that fads come and go, but good technique is forever. 


Fat=flavor

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I think the trick is to see the fad as just another technique to fold-in to the repertoire. Like sous vide, you don't look for where you can use it... you look for where it is useful.

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I totally agree! I do find sous vide useful. I just don't always need it. There are somethings it can do, that can't be done by traditional cooking styles. My last job in a kitchen was a good example of balance. We used it on maybe 10% of our dishes. Which this was a 9 course tasting menu place. So maybe 1 dish per menu.

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"Sense Of Urgency" -Thomas Keller

86ed Chef's Advice

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I once joked with an artist friend that "the shortest line between two points runs from 'avant-garde' to 'old guard'."

 

I think that each new fad or -- to use a less pejorative term -- "collective enthusiasm" changes the way we look at and prepare food, at least to some extent. Like the avant-garde in any other art form, most of it will eventually go out the window but a few things will remain to enrich the collective pool of ingredients and techniques. 

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Fat=flavor

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I just quit my internship. Not really a horror story, more a "wtf?" story. Some background info about me: I used to manage a pizza store years ago and just recently got a job at a bakery after being out of the business for years. I've been kicking ass at the bakery and feeling confidant, so I decided to get a second job and this guy was advertising for a cook. This guy makes pizzas during the day and runs a "fine-dining" 9_9 restaurant at night. I straight up told him that I didn't want the pizza job and he should've mentioned that in the ad that's what the cook would be doing, but he told me he was going to teach me "fine-dining" food. LOL. I don't know why I'm so gullible, I've been in the business before.

 

Anyways, I show up early the next day and he tells me to come in two hours later. So I do, then he has me clean the place and make pizzas!! I asked him about dinner service, and he says, "not yet, one thing at a time." So, he hired another cook along with me, he gets into it with the other cook and he quits! On the first day!

 

So, I'm feeling bad for the owner, so I come in the next day, but I'm formulating in my head how to ask this guy for money because there's no way I'm going to make pizzas for free. And the stipulation would be I get to help out at dinner service (which is the real reason I'm there, I don't need the money). I do pizzas for two more days, then on the Friday, he hires another cook! This guy comes from nowhere, I think his last job was at Pizza Hut, and he tells me that he's going to be making the pizzas! I thought, "great, I didn't want to make pizzas anyways, but what about dinner service? There's no way he's going to let this noob do dinner service, right?" Well, I must remind the reader we are in the Twilight Zone, logic and reason have no place here. He asks the guy to stay for dinner service (on his first day) and tells me to go home. On a Friday night! After doing a week of menial work!

 

So fuck that, I told him I'm no longer interested in the job and if I could get paid for the last week of work. He told me that I messed up his pizzas, that's why they weren't selling (lol, not because they're shitty pizzas) and he cost me over $500 in damages, so he's not paying me. There's no way to prove this, but this is complete bullshit. I know how to make a damn pizza, it's not hard, and I used to sling pizzas up the wazoo years ago. And this is not "fine-dining" pizza, the quality is a step above Pizza Pizza.

 

Anyways, I didn't pursue it, last thing I need is a crazy Italian guy in my life, so I'm just going to chalk it up as a "good" story.

 

 

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Ought to be a message board for cooks to warn about creeps like this.

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Posted (edited)

So I've got a question for you who have interned, or are hosting an intern ..... today, our intern mentioned she'd *never* do an unpaid internship, a comment I found amusing (the discussion was about whether a certain extraordinary and supremely talented baker pays interns).  It was amusing to me because clearly the intern had no idea how many, and how much, the intern's mistakes were costing me.  Or how confounded I am, that despite me saying I wanted regular check ins, I find stuff partially done and I have to step in and try to salvage whatever's been done thus far.  I am not someone who yells (that doesn't help anyone and just adds tension to the kitchen) so usually I just lean in and use a low voice to go over it. Again.  The intern is coming along nicely and I do plan to offer an entry level position when graduation happens, but I'm just bemused that as an intern, you have no freaking clue what you don't know and yet you think your internship (the last semester of culinary school, I'm not talking about a stage) should be paid. (I don't want to be snarky here, but I want to add: Because you're bringing so much to the table with you? Your productivity is equal to that of people with more years of experience? Let me pay you to make mistakes?)

 

ETA: the question - are you paying your culinary student intern? Did you get paid as a culinary intern?


Edited by JeanneCake (log)

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No signing bonus?

 

 @JeanneCake are you paying this person?

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I used to stage at a local french restaurant. The chef let me come in when I waned and leave when I wanted. He was french and I offten couldn't understand him. During one very busy dinner service he shouted at me. “Do you know what an artichoke is” Yes I said. He said “bring me an artichoke put it right here.” He indicated a location with his knife.

I grabbed an artichoke and put it there. He glared at me and shouted “arctic char!” I left for the day shortly after that.

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@JeanneCake, I don't think any interns I've worked with have ever been paid, and most of them weren't worth paying.  9_9  School may teach the theory and technique, but actually doing the daily production - and doing it like one particular chef wants it done - is a different animal.  Sounds like yours is just a little over-confident?  The schools promise these kids that they'll be chefs when they graduate, they don't know how much they still don't know or that they still have to pay their dues.  Good luck, I hope she proves worth your training.

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@gfweb - yes the intern is being paid.

 

Here is a prime example of what I mean.  She made chocolate cookie dough and I asked her to roll it thin and showed her.  It was a little thick but these things can be hard to gauge, so I ask her to roll it thinner then we cut a sample to make sure it wouldn't spread when baked and could be used under a molded half sphere of mousse.  I asked if she knew what Famous Wafers were (she doesn't) and I explain they are a very thin chocolate cookie and that's what I want for under the base of the mousse to make it easier to handle and plate.  The few we test baked didn't spread (I rolled/cut them) and fit under the mousse and I tell how many we need, and when she had the cookies cut out ready to bake, I happened to look at them and told her to roll them thinner and to make them even (not taller on one side).  I showed her what I meant with one and off she goes, the cookies get baked while I am out delivering and she boxes them up for storage. 

 

I go to unmold the mousse today and fit them to the cookies and they're still too thick! I can't remake them, there's not enough dough and I have to deliver them by 2.  

 

It's not earth shattering but why aren't schools teaching kitchen behavior - as in "Chef please show me what you want this to look like" and then after you do a few on your own, "Chef, would you like to check progress so far" or if you aren't getting the instruction you need, then show the chef what you produce the first few times and check in.  Does no one teach checking in any more?  Even if the chef *doesn't* check in, ASK!

 

And for crying out loud, they're on their phones constantly checking things, you don't google Famous Wafers to see what they are?

 

And for this, they think they should be paid?

 

 

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