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How Culinary Internships Can Get You a Job
Partway through my time at St. Olaf College, I realized I was spending more time working at restaurants as a cook than studying for class and I knew that the culinary world is where I wanted to be. I did want formal culinary training, though, so a week after dropping out after spending three years procrastinating and changing majors, I was living in Minneapolis and starting classes at Le Cordon Bleu.
The reason I chose to attend Le Cordon Bleu – Minneapolis/St. Paul over any of the other culinary schools in the area, despite the astronomical tuition cost, came down to the 3-month internship at the end of the program. I had worked at five very different restaurants over the the course of the four years between graduating high school and attending culinary school, each giving me different valuable skills and experiences, but none serving the style of food that I was drawn to.
When I set out find a restaurant to intern at, I initially looked into all the big names all over the country – Spago, Aquavit, Topolobampo, French Laundry, Jean-Georges, Chez Panisse, etc. After contacting a few and getting similar offers – day prep position, no pay, one free dinner in the dining room – I decided to refocus my search and figure out what I really wanted to get out of my intern experience. I came up with a loose criteria:
1. Stay local
2. Focus on smaller, successful chef-driven restaurants
3. Decide on a style of cooking that appeals to me (Contemporary regional/seasonal American in my case)
My decision to stay local stemmed from the fact that the Twin Cities restaurant scene has been growing enormously over the past 5 years, with a number of chefs and restaurants garnering national attention (including a number of perennial Beard award noms, most notably Tim McKee, this year’s Best Chef – Midwest winner). It also would allow me to build a strong network of friends and peers — many of whom are working in the best restaurants in the area—that I could turn to for job leads and any other advice I may need.
There were a number of different restaurants that I had considered, but one really stuck out in my mind: Fugaise. Chef Don Saunders had opened it, three years prior to my arrival, to great reviews and a number of awards. I gravitated towards him and his restaurant partly because he was one of the first local chefs that I could recall reading about when I began reading the Taste section of the Minneapolis Star Tribune religiously. Everything I had read about his food appealed to me, so that became my number one choice. He gave me an unpaid intern position—I was still able to work full-time at my job while also completing my internship—and I learned more from him and his sous chef in those three months than the whole previous year of classes. Fugaise closed shortly after I finished there, his sous chef decided to move on, and I must have made one heck of a good impression because that position was then offered to me. I now have the honor of working with, learning from, and collaborating with one of the best chefs in the Midwest, and I am forever grateful for the opportunity that he’s given me.
When considering an internship, you should consider these 6 things:
1. Where do you want to start your career?
2. What type of restaurant do you want to work in?
3. Can you afford an unpaid internship?
4. Meet the line cooks, servers, etc.
5. Read as many reviews, profiles, and articles about the restaurant and chef as you can.
6. Don’t take an internship at a famous restaurant just to have it on your resumé.
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Executive Chef and General Manager of Stout’s Island Lodge in Birchwood, WI; he recently graduated from culinary school in December 2008 and has a lot to say about the transition to the work place. In the kitchen, he works primarily with local/seasonal food, prepared using classical French technique, though he occasionally delves into the more mainstream applications of molecular gastronomy (spherification, powders, foams, suspensions) as a means of accenting a dish without overpowering it. When he’s not in the kitchen, he’s out exploring restaurants and dive bars, going to concerts, playing guitar, reading, but mostly sleeping.
He also blogs at Plays with Knives.
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Culinary Internship Resume Samples
Culinary Internship staff are entry-level professionals who are gaining hands-on experience in recipe formulations, menu development, and daily kitchen operations. Essential job duties listed on a Culinary Internship resume example are supporting chefs, developing recipes, maintaining work stations clean, measuring ingredients, replenishing supplies, and completing other duties as assigned by supervisors. Our collection of Culinary Internship resumes showcases skills such as cooking knowledge, stamina, attention to safety, detail orientation, teamwork, and being able to work in a fast-paced environment. Training at a culinary school is required.
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- Prepared ingredients and assembled dishes according to restaurant recipes and specifications.
- Complied with nutrition and sanitation regulations and safety standards.
- Cleaned up station and took care of leftover food.
Baking &pastry Culinary Internship
- Applies techniques learned at Le Cordon Blue to a fast-paced, high volume bakery
- Assembles layered dessert glasses for The Wave restaurant following bakery recipes and guidelines
- Applies baking techniques in preparation of cookies, cakes, granola, icing, meringues, mousses and other fillings
- Bakes and preps Danish and muffins
- Mixes and prepares a variety of breads including focaccia, lavash, bread sticks, pizza dough, parker house style rolls, sour dough style breads as well as various starters
- Prepares plated desserts for both restaurants and concierge level
- Practices proper food handling and safety guidelines
Regional/international Culinary Internship
- Sorted groceries
- Organized ingredients
- Set up labs
- Maintained cleanliness around the lab
- Assisted students in the lab
- Prep and execute lunch/dinner service on nightly basis
- Prep and execute menu items for private catering events
- Serve raw bar in front of house
- Seafood, Garde manger.
- Ability to handle multiple tickets.
- Inspect and test all food before it is served.
- Developed desserts
- Meat and fish fabrication.
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