My Externship

So, it has been nearly three weeks since my restaurant externship started and I have yet to share any concrete details about it.  As many of you know, my culinary school program consisted of 6 months in the classroom, followed by a 6 month paid externship in a fine-dining restaurant.  While I didn’t go into a lot of detail during school, I ended up doing four stages (essentially working interviews) at various restaurants in the DC area before making my decision on where I would end up doing my externship.

Intimidating?  Absolutely.  Walking into a completely unfamiliar restaurant kitchen and being put to work doing god knows what, all the while feeling like you are being evaluated, terrified me.  In fact, I was already intimidated by the idea of starting it in my first week at school.  Just to give you some perspective, that was about three months before I even had to start thinking about it…Yes, I’m that person.  

Getting familiar with school and becoming more confident in the kitchen definitely made me feel more prepared for the process, but it was still a process, and a pretty exhausting one at that.  It started with coming up with a list of restaurants I was interested in—I knew I wanted to work at a place that used a lot of local, seasonal ingredients and where I would learn a lot, but still be giving direction and structure.  I also knew I didn’t want to work in a certain type of restaurant.  There are a lot of stereotypes about the restaurant industry.  And, believe it or not, I discovered that several of them are true.  There are a lot of crazy chefs out there.  Heck, at one of the places where I staged (which I will not disclose), a sous chef’s nickname for a current intern was “shithead”.  I knew even before I started that I didn’t want to go to a place like that, even if it would “toughen” me up and I would learn a lot by the time I was done…

In the end, I felt like I found a place that met pretty much all of my criteria.  And luckily, I was offered the externship there.  So…what have I been doing over the past three weeks? 

Before I started working, I found out that I would be plating desserts two nights a week and spending three nights a week working at the Garde Manger station, which is responsible for salads and cold appetizers. It is pretty typical to start off at these stations when working in a restaurant for the first time.  But some people start off doing just prep work, so I was pretty pleased that I would go right to my own station.  I also liked the idea of doing a mixture of different stations throughout the week to break up the routine and schedule a bit.  More to come on what exactly I’ve been doing and how I’m liking it so far! 

And now the big question, where the heck am I working?!  After a lot of consideration and going back and forth, I’ve decided not to share where I’m working on the blog.  To me, it was a choice between mentioning that I had a blog to my chef/boss—and asking if I could occasionally discuss my experiences on it—or not bringing it up at all.  On the one hand, I wanted to be able to share where I would be working with you guys (because I feel like its sort of a big detail).  But, in the end, I’ve decided that it is for the best. 

In the end, I hope to share a lot more details about the experience!  Thanks again to everyone following along!