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February 08, 2007

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Louisa Chu

Your friend "Bob" will actually *make* money during his stage? And if he's staging at a "BIG three-star Michelin spot", when will he find the time to get bi-lingual?

Fewer and fewer cooks go abroad to stage because it *costs a lot of money*. We're not just talking airfare, rent, food, transportation, extra medical insurance - mandatory for a lot of stages - and the occasional beer. Overseas they want you to stage at least a month - in France it's three months. It's not like in the US where you play in a kitchen for a day and call it a stage. So you also have to either sublet your current apartment or store your stuff or rent your house - *plus* there's the economic cost of what you lose in already meager cook's wages.

The simple answer to why American cooks don't do it so much anymore is because it's a hard fucking life being the immigrant in the kitchen.

Having said all that, I would do my stages at El Bulli and Ducasse all over again - and double the time. I strongly encourage serious cooks to stage abroad whenever and wherever they can. Even Ilan. Was he the one who said Marcel should just go to Spain and France and eat and stage?

I totally agree with you - I do hope he puts his money where his mouth is.

mme snack

Sounds like you’ve had the experience first hand. And yes – it is not easy to do, but I think benefits outweigh the hardships, financial and otherwise.

As to the bilingual - Bob speaks English – which is not the language being spoken in the BIG kitchen. Thus he will learn a new language on the job, faster than you can say berlitz.

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