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1 Preface

The adrenalin rush found in cooking professionally is a gateway drug to traveling, networking and discovery of a culinary subculture second to none. To do it well requires stamina, dedication and a cutthroat aptitude for learning, self-discipline and strengthening one’s skills. Though tough and often times borderlining on slavery, those who get it right find a sense of accomplishment an achievement in earning their spot on the team. It takes tens of thousands of taxing hours beating on every skill in hopes to progress into the coveted chef’s position as leader and creator. A cook’s progression directly relies on their individual drive and one of the best ways to expedite this process is through staging. Discover the journey of an outside-the-box culinary education employing the most important elements of any cook’s path toward chefdom: Staging; traveling, volunteering and networking to broaden horizons and open doors.

It’s been estimated that one in forty job applicants are worth hiring; one in forty new hires are worth promoting; one in forty of those promoted have what it takes to become a leader and only one in forty of those actually defeat the odds and succeed! Given that probability – as either employee or employer – don’t you think more than a piece of paper should be required before employment can be agreed upon? In life, you’re likely going to require coffee and a few dinner dates before committing to enter relationship; yet, in business we all to often jump right into a job without much more than a chat and a hand shake.

Like an interview on steroids it’s my belief that staging – taking on voluntary kitchen work to prove your worth – allows the chef and cook to breakdown the walls and really jump into the nitty gritty reality without any long term commitment. Both parties benefit from a glance at each other’s worth quickly assessing if it’s a good fit; however, these stages can also be simply looked at as short term learning experiences as well.

Who knows if it’s determination, fate or luck – by whichever you subscribe- that drove me at such a young age, to seek volunteer opportunities as I strive to become a chef. No matter where I’ve ended up throughout this journey – paid and unpaid – brutally taxing and blissfully rewarding one thing always remains: The best opportunities and mentors were born from the time spent staging and getting a foot in the door. I’ve come to appreciate that progress in one’s skills is most profound when stepping outside your comfort zone – as you will be asked to complete tasks in a space you’ve never been in before, while working hand and hand with strangers from varying backgrounds. Forget attending school to learn how to cook and enter the master chef’s domain as a stagier volunteer!