Chef Stage Placement Advice from The Change Group

Why a stage could change your chef career

When you walk into a kitchen for the first time, whether it be on a stage or a trial, there is no denying chefs immediately look up from their mise en plus to suss you out. The judgement is palpable as they assess how clean your whites are, how sharp your knives are and how organised you keep your station. When looking for a new chef job you’ll be judged on your attitude and ability but more often than not, the main thing chef employers will look at will be your CV and which kitchens you have worked in before.

What can a stage do for your CV?

You can instantly boost your kitchen credentials by doing stages. People stand up a bit straighter when you mention what other kitchens you have worked in. It is a humbling experience, going into a kitchen to work for nothing but knowledge and employers recognise this commitment to your trade.

A stage in a Michelin kitchen shows that you are passionate, prepared to work for free and truly committed to your work. It sets you apart from other chefs, boosting your CV and making you much more valuable and respected in the kitchen. Looking for Michelin Star chef jobs? It’s also great if you want to get Michelin experience on your CV without a long term commitment.

Combining a stage with your travels

Some of the best restaurants are in deepest darkest Peru or wedged in a corner of a train station in Japan which means a stage offers really exciting travel opportunities whilst not having to give up completely on your career! Whether you may be travelling to Copenhagen for a 3 month stint at Noma, foraging for ants in the freezing cold or even jumping on the central line in rush hour for a couple of weeks spent working under Brett at The Ledbury, it will open your eyes to a whole new world, full of different flavours, thrilling molecular gastronomy and even the potential of securing full time employment. Some chefs find a stage career changing, Jason Atherton is a prime example.

Making the most of your free time

A stage is also a great idea when you are between chef jobs or taking some time off. Going to spend a week or even a day at a 1* and seeing how different chefs work is invaluable. Witness how Tom Sellers makes his trademark beef dripping candles or how Heston’s famous meat fruit is made or get to taste the legendary Souffle Suissesse at La Gavroche. It may be hard to drag yourself out of bed on a rainy Thursday in February to spend the day picking herbs at Galvin at Windows, but perhaps that will be the kitchen that will shape your future.

As a chef recruitment agency, more and more we see chefs taking jobs which aren’t right for them (not through us of course) as they accept the job without really understanding the kitchen and how it works. This often results in chef’s leaving a few weeks later which can wreak havoc on a CV. A stage enables a type of security in which you know what to expect and most nasty surprises are eliminated.

But at the end of it all, nothing beats the post service beer, having survived the Michelin service battle and of course you get to taste some killer 3* Michelin food whilst you’re there.

If you are interested in chef jobs in London and would like to do a stage before committing to a new job, feel free to give Change’s chef recruitment team a call to discuss. We work with some amazing restaurants, gastropubs and hotels and may be able to set something up for you.