The power of a stage….

Stage (cooking) Staging is an unpaid internship test when a cook or chef works briefly, for free, (or to gain a position) in another chef’s kitchen to learn and be exposed to new techniques and cuisines. The term originates from the French word stagiaire meaning trainee, apprentice or intern.

 

So today I jumped back into my whites and got back into the hustle and bustle of a busy kitchen and went to do a stage!

Bancone; a fully open plan, small plate Italian restaurant in Covent Garden. Now, I will openly admit that I have never been one to go out for Italian food. I have always thought if I’m not in Italy its not going to be as good as it could be, plus I thought I could cook this at home…. pasta is pasta, right?

Well I have to tell you now, Bancone is the exception to that idea. There is nowhere you can hide in a fully open plan kitchen. You are right on top of every chef from the moment you walk in to the moment you leave.

My idea was to help out the kitchen and find out what the chefs are really looking for when it comes to recruitment. What better way to find out what chefs you need than from inside the kitchen right? So, whites, apron and knives at the ready, I started on the larder section under the guidance of Taylor, who was brought into design, write and create the dessert menu, but who also lends her hand to other sections when needed.

She told me the ins and out of the kitchen, how it works and how the chefs are treated. I was half expecting the typical gripes of a chef’s life and was pleasantly surprised when she told me how the hours are reasonable, the holiday requests are granted, the shifts aren’t five split shifts a week and two days off to rest. A mixture of straight shifts starting at nine and finishing around five with one double shift a week! As I prepped, the whole restaurant was cleaned and set up for the lunch service. It was as if a small breeze had blown through and left in its wake a restaurant with tables laid, flowers watered and Parmesan at the ready!

Service began, the checks started flowing and the dishes were plated. The customer is right in front of you. I didn’t know if what I was preparing was for the person sat in front of me or not and that’s the beauty of it.

Every plate/bowl of food can be watched and scrutinized by the paying customer; it’s thrilling hearing customers talking about what they are going to order, or what looks good and trying to guess the food that the chefs are plating.

As the main dishes were being sent out, I was chatting to the Head Chef Louis, getting a feel from the Chef who has been there since day one. He has evolved with the restaurant and the product is amazing. The dishes are clean, deep in flavour, simple but so difficult to execute. There are no fancy micro herbs, gels, crumbs or dusts. It’s just perfectly cooked pasta with elements that make you want more.

As he served dish after dish, we spoke about what he needs for the roles that he is looking to fill and we could talk in a way that only chefs could talk. His thoughts on an “ex” chef coming in to learn about the needs of the kitchen? “A great idea, a good way to recruit by having someone in who wants to know the full ins and outs of the kitchen, so that the best candidates can be sent.”

Now with all this information we as a recruitment agency have the upper hand! I can personally relay everything within the team and we can actively recruit knowing that we are the best placed agency in the market. Plus, I know that a relationship has been built, a genuine feeling that our client would rather do business with us because we have shown that level of care and attention for them. This alone is worth the time invested.

 

For that I am thankful, we at Appetite are thankful and here’s to the continuation of that relationship!

Article by Liam Mcarthy