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Suggestions for Internship


Qwerty
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I am currently a culinary student, and in about six months I will need to do an internship with a restaurant. I am seriously considering coming to NY, I have heard that the bar is raised in every tangible area from other parts of the country--i.e. quality of cooks and chefs, quality of ingredients, fickleness of the dining public, creativity, number of restaurants, etc. My internship would last for approx. six months, with potential to turn into a full time job once the six months are over.

I'm not posting this seeking a job offer. I'm simply asking--if you guys were in my shoes, where would you like to work?

Although I am familiar with the "big" names in NYC dining, I am asking for opinions on restaurants that you all think are great, maybe the next big thing (not to sound too cliche), what chefs you respect, who's doing cool, innovative cuisine...etc. Basically just doing research on specific places. Who better to ask than you guys?

The only stipulation that I have is that I would like it to be grounded in French technique. I know, I know...but no Asian fusion, Italian Fusion, funky stuff like that. Otherwise, I am game.

Thanks in advance for the advice.

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Its good to see a fellow culinary school grad (or soon to be) with the passion to push yourself to get into the top restaurants. Anyway, I HIGHLY recommend Per Se, Thomas Kellers NYC place. I had the great opportunity to do my externship at The French Laundry. I then returned right after graduation from JWU in Rhode Island. Im heading to Per Se the end of December to hopefully be the chef de poisson.

Good luck with your search. If theres anything I can help with, let me know.

-Chef Johnny

John Maher
Executive Chef/Owner
The Rogue Gentlemen

Richmond, VA

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Talk about the top. I've considered shooting for a place like that, however, I was under the impression that TFL and Per Se did not pay externs? Or am I wrong?

Unfortunately, it would have to be a paid internship. I'm old enough to need to be on my own and don't see how I could live in NYC without pay.

Don't think a place like that isn't tempting though.

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If this is required by your school, it's a school expense, and subject to all the loan/grant and tax rules. That can take some of the sting out of it. Is your school helping at all with contacts?

Anyway, I believe one should always reach as high as you can, and figure out a way to make it work. Most of the chefs you want to work for have done it, too.

"Oh, tuna. Tuna, tuna, tuna." -Andy Bernard, The Office
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definitely extern in nyc.

a really good place to start, i think, is the michelin guide. i didn't have this available to me when i externed...... try to extern at a starred place.

i definitely recommend the modern, tabla, grammercy tavern, even EMP i guess.

gotham, craft, anissa...

trail around on your days off from class when you approach your externship. pick the one that feels the best for you. most of your day will be spend interacting with other cooks so its hard to ascertain if they are genuinely nice people on your one day trail, but TRY.

lot's of cooks and vibe's in new york can be really competitive and just shitty. try to find a place where cooks are nice to you, but a place also with a michelin star.

the pay sucks. it sucks almost as much after you graduate.

think $8/hr for extern and maybe $12/hr for grads.

i know my buddies who extern'ed at french laundry and daniel didn't get paid fairly. fuck that, you should get paid for your work.

you should also not pick thyme leaves and peel carrots and turn artichokes for your extern. you should get on the line.

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If this is required by your school, it's a school expense, and subject to all the loan/grant and tax rules.  That can take some of the sting out of it.  Is your school helping at all with contacts?

Anyway, I believe one should always reach as high as you can, and figure out a way to make it work.  Most of the chefs you want to work for have done it, too.

yo girl.

ironically i'm thinking of going back to cooking.

less b.s., less money then front of house, though.

where are you at these days?

blue hill?

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Talk about the top. I've considered shooting for a place like that, however, I was under the impression that TFL and Per Se did not pay externs? Or am I wrong?

Unfortunately, it would have to be a paid internship. I'm old enough to need to be on my own and don't see how I could live in NYC without pay.

Don't think a place like that isn't tempting though.

Expect to work without pay even after your unpaid externship is complete. High-end restaurants such as Per Se require lengthy stages before they even think about hiring you.

My advice is to forget the French cuisine and try to land an internship at WD-50. In New York City, their style of cuisine is setting standards for the next twenty years.

I completely respect French cuisine and its contemporary masters such as Thomas Keller. However, in my own personal opinion, I think an education at wd-50 would be very beneficial for you.

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wd 50 is setting the standard for the next 20 years!?!

god i hope not!

can you imagine if every restaurant was like wd 50?

nyc has room for exactly one (or maybe 2) restaurants like wd50.

either you like crazy molecular food or you do not. i'm guessing you do not. i don't. and i certainly don't want to cook it. like you i don't really want to cook anything italian or asian, either.

which leaves new american/contemporary and french.

being that working for french people sucks...i recommend:

bouley

anissa

blue hill

craft

cru

gotham

grammercy tavern

picholine

the modern

veritas

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i couldnt second chefboys comments any stronger. Dont go work at some huge name place just cause it will look good on your resume. This is the pitfall every culinary school kid falls into. Work at a place where you will see adn do alot. A wide range of cooking skills is what you need to learn on your externship. If you go to one of these huge places you will end of bruniosing carrots for hours on end. Im sorry but you can do that at home.

Molecular gastronomy is not where to start. As interesting as it may be, you need to get a culinary foundation. You skip those necessary steps...and all of a sudden you are a chef who can make hot foam but cant make a proper stock or bebone a chicken.

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As a culinary school grad - here are tips off the top of my head. Trailing is a must. This will give you a good idea about the size of the kitchen as well as what duties you will be asked to perform on a day to day level. Some of the questions are what will you be doing during service? How are interns/externs viewed by the chef in the kitchen? Is there an intern/extern program in place already at the restaurant? I believe that Per Se expects a minimum 6 month commitment, but they have a strong program in place already (move you through the stations etc.) Also, it goes without saying that if you don't like the food the restaurant is serving - you probably won't like the externship.

These are just a few things to think about.

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yo girl.

ironically i'm thinking of going back to cooking.

less b.s., less money then front of house, though.

where are you at these days?

blue hill?

Chefboy! Back of the house, eh? Let me know where you land. Lots is going on up in the county, but I know your heart is in the city. A long commitment isn't going to fly for me right now. I'd love part-time and have pursued that; we'll see how the next couple of months go. I'm teaching a lot these days, which was my goal anyway. And then there's that kitchen renovation ....

About not getting paid: I took an unpaid externship, and wound up getting paid (a lot). It was a terrific experience -- and since externship is required by our school, I found it odd that the school tried to force me to take one that did pay. Anyway. the externship can be what you make it. No cook that comes in is guaranteed line work for four solid months if they can't or won't cut it, a student/intern shouldn't either.

That's my story, and I'm sticking to it! :biggrin:

"Oh, tuna. Tuna, tuna, tuna." -Andy Bernard, The Office
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Thanks for all the advice guys. I should mention that this will be my 2nd internship (I attend NECI in VT), and I want to go to NYC for the experience.

Like I said, I would have to be paid. I suppose I could take an extra 10 grand out in school loans, but given the enormous expense I am already incuring, I don't think that is an option.

I would expect that anyplace worth going would require a trail before commitment. If they don't, I would be worried. NYC is about 5-6 hours from where I am, so I don't think that a weekend in NYC is out of the question.

A lot of those places look great. Keep em coming.

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Thanks for all the advice guys. I should mention that this will be my 2nd internship (I attend NECI in VT), and I want to go to NYC for the experience.

Like I said, I would have to be paid. I suppose I could take an extra 10 grand out in school loans, but given the enormous expense I am already incuring, I don't think that is an option.

I would expect that anyplace worth going would require a trail before commitment. If they don't, I would be worried. NYC is about 5-6 hours from where I am, so I don't think that a weekend in NYC is out of the question.

A lot of those places look great. Keep em coming.

two words

chinatown bus

i externed in boston, so i know the trip well. :)

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Thanks for all the advice guys. I should mention that this will be my 2nd internship (I attend NECI in VT), and I want to go to NYC for the experience.

Like I said, I would have to be paid. I suppose I could take an extra 10 grand out in school loans, but given the enormous expense I am already incuring, I don't think that is an option.

I would expect that anyplace worth going would require a trail before commitment. If they don't, I would be worried. NYC is about 5-6 hours from where I am, so I don't think that a weekend in NYC is out of the question.

A lot of those places look great. Keep em coming.

Ahhhh, NECI! There was a NECI extern on my externship site. He was great, and wound up being the fish cook during his time there; he was back on site when I went in for dinner a while ago. Just a sweetheart, and very very good at his work.

Chefboy has some great suggestions; I'd try those. And your expenses will be considered education expenses by the IRS, as long as you are a NECI student -- said the woman who commuted 100 miles round trip to her school.

I wonder if your school knows anyone who could put you up for the weekend or a week, so you could trail and get your feet under you?

Another thought -- ask around about chefs who like to mentor. Six months in a less than classic setting, for someone who will be a contact, reference and mentor forever, is well worth it. I got very, very lucky -- didn't expect to network during my internship, and am still getting advice, leads, and references from the site.

Edited by FabulousFoodBabe (log)
"Oh, tuna. Tuna, tuna, tuna." -Andy Bernard, The Office
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Good luck trying to find a PAID externship at a french restaurant. Typically, those in that echelon still go by the traditional brigade system, with "apprentices/externs" holding down the bottom of the totem pole. And dont count on getting on the line of any of the top places as an extern. It just doesnt happen.

I hope this isnt discouraging, but its the truth. I externed at TFL for almost 5 months. It was by far the hardest work Ive ever done. In the kitchen at 5am SHARP, not leaving until 6,7,8 at night. My Chef Commis was an Autsralian D*CKHEAD. Made my life hell. But I learned an incredible amount and wouldnt change anything. I wasnt paid... ran through most of my little bit of savings, but now im with one of the sous chefs from TFL just KICKING ASS.

So be prepared to make some sacrifices, but in the long term, its totally worth it. Hang in there and stick with it.

-Chef Johnny

John Maher
Executive Chef/Owner
The Rogue Gentlemen

Richmond, VA

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