Roll your brain back to French-lessons many moons ago - “stahhhge”, although I don’t know if that helps. After an aggressive end to 2016 (personally and professionally), I took a few weeks to wholly clear my head – no phone calls, no e-mails and a A LOT of planning time to myself away from life and it’s daily intricacies. As part of this time out I dropped an e-mail to my ex-head chef team at Deuxave to spend some time in the kitchen as an extra hand. I then realised…who else outside of the industry even knows what a stage is??...
Ok so we may have talked about it a couple of times in this blog, but I’ve never really got into the nitty-gritty of what a stage is. Imagine you’re a young, wide-eyed human being and are considering getting into the industry that is cooking; you’ll already have options available to you with little to no experience necessary and a stage is one of them. Along with its slightly more formal “trial” these are both ways to have an interview at a restaurant. A trial is traditionally the best way for a chef to assess a cook/person who is coming to them in search of a job. A stage, rather confusingly, is a chance for a cook/young chef to experience what life might be like in another kitchen or working for another head chef. As I said, it’s confusing…why would anyone volunteer their holiday or day off to see what life is like on the other side of the fence?! This industry that we’ve all become a part of still places many of its roots in the traditional French kitchen hierarchy system (the word stage is derived from the French work stagiere which means trainee or apprentice). If you didn’t know that by this point then shame on you! This does bring to question: how far one can go with a stage?
Back in September last year, we were due to be joined by Giselle Miller who was doing a short tour of stages and having a holiday here in London (read the full blog post to find out what happened there). Incorporating a stint at a restaurant into our holidays has become a fantastic way to gain experience and inspiration to bring back to our home kitchens/regular work places. Sadly, some cooks are starting to use this as a way to add to their CVs (if someone says they’ve worked at Noma or El Bulli why not ask them for how long and what they got up to), although seemingly seem to be able to do so indefinitely. It’s fantastic for them, although why not learn and develop and grow on your own as a trainee at a job rather than spend 6 months a year working for nothing but accolades and the inability to see more of the world than what has been taught to you!?! It’s funny then that I chose to spend my time with 2 days with the team that I really felt I clicked with at Deuxave.
Looking back in the direction you have come from to see how amazingly Chefs C, A and S have grown and developed a new team with just as much tenacity and spirit to cook delicious food as there ever has been. Some things have changed, evolved more specifically, but we all shared a lot of “back in the day” moments. None the less I got to take on some of those stage-jobs that I was accustomed to sharing with others such as brunoise-ing shallots (a great knife skills-test) for line-prep, the de-pithing of meyer lemon peels (a speed/efficiency test that I may have failed…sorry Chef A) and the oh-so-important family meal prep (tests seasoning and creativity). For those outside of the know, family meals really show much love a team have for each other through food. In this case I timed my noon arrival just right on both days – meatball subs and home-made bahn mis appeared on both days with CDC Stef having become the master of the family meal. Actually, I think that might be worth exploring more…Chef S – family meal instagram war perhaps?!
I’m always going to be an advocate for taking any opportunity one can to experience life through different peoples’ eyes, and this is a great way for us all to improve ourselves personally, especially when you think of the rising prices of that dinner at some of London’s most fanciful dineries. For now though, A and myself will be more than happy to have you hang out for a day so do let us know if you want to do some cooking with us!
As a bit of fun, I’ve put together a little collection of places that I checked out while on my trip to Boston and the New Hampshire area. Come on….you don’t think I just worked while away on holiday, did you!!? R.