I don't know if this sounds silly or not but...
- zameloy Dec 14, 2006 04:09 PM
I am looking for ways to get a culinary apprenticeship in Europe (or anywhere outside of the US for that matter). Does anyone have any good recommendations on where I should start?
Check in with the nearest culinary school, they may have good advice.
Or go to your fav. rest. where you know the chef is not from the U.S. and ask him/her for a contact.
What language, other than English, can you speak? To do well in Europe you will need to have a command of the local language. Next you will have to be willing and able to work incredibly hard (not by US standards - by the old school, apprentiship starts at 14 standards of the Old World), put in ungodly long hours and take orders to do the most mundane tasks over and over again. The complaint I have heard the most from European chefs about taking on Americans in stages is that they don't know how to work and they don't speak the language).
If you are prepared in these regards, then network with US-based chefs who are European trained. If you went to culinary school, undoubtedly there were some EU-trained chefs on the faculty.
I'm fluent in Spanish and wanting to enroll in language classes if I can find anything outside of the spanish speaking world. I am expecting to work like a dog and am looking forward to the dicipline it will encourage. I don't have many illusions about this. I want to work and I am willing to do it for free (or actually pay to do it). Thank you very much for your input. If I find something Ithis will be one of the first places I will post!
Learn French. Learn it well, and learn both kitchen terminology and the "dirty" stuff, because it'll be hollered at you. I'm not talking about "où est la toilette" French, I'm talking about "salaud, la soubise est faite, où diable sont tes suprêmes??" French.
Then go to France and do a stage there... while I'm not actually a huge fan of French food, they have technique like almost no-one except the Chinese. (Even the Japanese go to France for technique.)
Save your Spanish -- you'll need it in American kitchens!
If you have never been an expat, and want to learn a new language (e.g. French), I suggest a two-phased approach to your pursuit of stage. First, look for a good immersion program in the country (and preferrably region) of choice. Since you already have command of a second language, the third won't be difficult, particularly if it is a romance language. Your language studies will provide an opportunity to see what life is like more as a resident rather than as a holiday tourist.
I studied Spanish in that manner, living with a family and spending every free moment talking and visiting with locals as if it were my new home. Three weeks of immersion was followed by a 12 month assignment working and living in Mexico City, and then working throughout Latin America.
I studied Italian the same way, living with a family outside of Firenze. The contacts I made in three short weeks was amazing - wners and managers of wineries, olive oil producers and restaurateurs.
There are many schools that cater to professionals who are looking to expand their linguistic skills, and provide both the academic and practical language experiences. If you decide on this route, select a school in the region in which you are interested working. That will enable you to do some networking. Best of luck!