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 at Z 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.
Clearly Ryan learned something, because his own place turned out to be The Plimoth, the charming spot that I review this week.
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.