Chefs want to evaluate the talent pool before making their final choice of who to hire and mentor. Aspiring culinarians seek career-building jobs under the best chefs but don’t have the experience or connections to get them. The solution: schedule a “stage.”

Originating from the French word stagiaire, meaning “trainee, apprentice, intern,” a stage occurs when a candidate works without pay for an employer for one or more shifts because (s)he seeks one or more of the following: “real world” experience, the hope of future employment, or exposure to specialized techniques.

The candidate doing the stage can also be called a “stage.”

We interviewed 20 successful chefs from a wide range of culinary fields – hotels, restaurants, elite cake studios, private clubs, and legendary bakeries – to gain real insight into culinary stages. Students and graduates will not work for free forever but our study shows the better your reputation and program, the more eager they will be to sacrifice compensation for experience. When a stage program is properly planned and executed, it benefits all parties, and the ripple effect leads to a more refined and knowledgeable talent pool. 

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