Restaurant stages, i.e. unpaid apprenticeships, are very different from the useless internships many of us endured in college. Far from killing time making copies, kitchen interns gain real-time, real-world experience that translates directly to necessary skills. For example, Peter Ryan says he wouldn't be where he is today without the summer he spent staging atZ Cuisine
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Ryan says he sought out the stage spot at Patrick DuPay's Z Cuisine because "I had been teaching at Cook Street eight or nine years and didn't have chops." A few months later, Ryan was hired as chef at the French restaurant, with "full disclosure" that he was trying to get the experience necessary to open his own place.
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He clearly learned a lot more during his stage than I learned during one summer internship, when I was so bored I memorized the state capitals -- after I was done making copies.