Taking Center Stage

I've chopped and diced vegetables, quartered chickens and ducks, degreased veal and fish stocks, and done about everything else in between for months at the French Culinary Institute. Now it's time to take, albeit a baby step, into a professional (aka-"real world") kitchen.

I plan to do an internship this summer, but the first step is completing a "stage." That's the term we use when a person works (for free) in a chef's kitchen either as a tryout or to learn new skills.

Luckily, there are plenty of restaurants looking for interns in New York City. But my question is: Would working in a smaller kitchen for my first internship be more beneficial? Or does going to a four-star kitchen with all its name recognition mean a better learning experience for me? The smaller kitchen might give me more responsibility while the bigger place may have me peeling endless amounts of garlic.

I have one classmate interning at a Jean-Georges restaurant, and she loves the experience. Sure, she said, she's mostly doing mindless prep work (grating beets, turning artichokes), but she's learned a lot just by watching. I've had other friends interning at smaller restaurants who do everything from working the garde manager station to cooking grill meats on a busy night.

I'm not sure which route to take, but I've set up some stages and will give you guys a glimpse into my experience.

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            5 Program(s) Found
            • Alumni have appeared in reality competition shows such as Top Chef and Project Runway.
            • Has a team of about 4,000 faculty members focused on helping students tap opportunities in a marketplace driven by ideas.
            • Offers programs in design, media arts, fashion, and culinary.
            • Provides program coordinators who work with students to ensure they have the learning materials, assignments, facilities, and faculty to get the most out of the program.
            • Over 50 campus locations nationwide.
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            • Ranked among the Best Online Bachelor’s Programs in 2015 by U.S. News and World Report.
            • Lets undergrad students try classes before paying any tuition.
            • Has an average class sizes of 18 for undergraduate and 13 for graduate-level courses.
            • Offers numerous scholarship opportunities that can help students save up to $750 per term on their tuition.
            • Tends to educate degree-seeking online and campus-based students who are adult learners with families and students who work while pursuing higher education.
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            • Received the 2013 “Cooking School of the Year” Award of Excellence from the International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP).
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            • Culinary Arts program includes the 3-week Farm To Table® Experience, where students gain a direct, in-depth look at where food comes from.
            • Numerous scholarship opportunities and financial aid are available to students who qualify.
            • Accreditation from the Accrediting Council for Continuing Education and Training (ACCET), and the Council on Occupational Education (COE).
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            Salter College , West Boylston
            • Offers training programs in preparation for professional careers in business, health care, and computers.
            • Provides associate and certificate programs in medical assisting, massage therapy, culinary arts, and more.
            • Places students in externships to gain real world experience before completing their respective program.
            • Accredited by the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS).
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            L'Ecole Culinaire , Kansas City
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            • All campuses have a public restaurant where food is prepared and served by students.
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            Virginia College , Fort Pierce
            • Instructors are typically real-world professionals with many years of experience in their career fields.
            • Ranked #3 in Best for Vets: Career & Technical Colleges 2014 by Military Times.
            • Presents the full tuition cost up front. In most cases, even textbooks are included in the total price.
            • Provides career services associates to help students review their resume, provide career counseling, help with job searches, and more.
            • Has 27 campus locations across the southern United States, plus offers online degree programs.
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