Externships: A Win for All

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culinary teacherWhen I attended culinary school, one of the requirements in the last semester was to complete an internship, what used to be referred to as an apprenticeship decades ago, and to what is now referred to as an externship. Apprenticeship, internship or externship, whatever it is called, it is a win-win for both the experienced restaurateur and the student.

I remember mine well. It was 6 grueling weeks with a locally well-known chef who outside of Blackey’s Saloon, had only two interests, his Harley and his tattooed, big-chested girl-friend. Since I had no interest in either, we had little in common. But, in spite of that and in spite of the fact that Chef had little tolerance for my ignorance of all things culinary, the externship provided him with a hard working and eager-to-learn employee at no additional payroll expense and me with a double dose of reality.

Those of us who have served as a kitchen apprentice, whether as part of an educational program or not, understand the importance of the real-life experience in the professional kitchen. Not only does it offer food production training, but it gives one the chance to learn how to cope with egos, eccentricities, diversity and the physical hazards of working in the back of the house.

Now that I am in the position to take on an apprentice, I plan on doing so on a regular basis, through the culinary externship program at my local technical college. By including at least one intern per quarter, I can significantly reduce my payroll expense, even if I factor in the additional time that I will have to spend in training each new intern. There are culinary programs in every city, in high schools, technical schools and colleges across the country. If you are in the position to do so, it is time for payback. By providing an apprenticeship, you are not only giving a novice a helping hand and cutting your payroll expense, but you just might be getting the best permanent employee you ever had.

Buon Appetito e Buona Salute, Chef Angela Bell
Beyond the Bull (an “eat smart” kitchen)
233 W. Main St., Central, SC 29630

Last modified: April 22, 2013
Angela Bell

This story is part of our Small Business Corner, a peek into the life and trials of small business owners.

Category: MPR Authored, Restaurants, Small Business, Small Business Corner, small business owners