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MeMc
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What do you think would be the most interesting restaurant in which to be mentored? I am thinking about going to culinary school, but would like to work in a buzz-y DC spot first. That said, I don't know DC restaurants that well since I moved from NY a few months ago.

What I am looking for has the seriousness of wine of a Bastianich list; the buzz and graciouness of a Jack and Grace Lamb (Jack's Lux. Oyster Bar, The Blue Goose, Jewel Bako) or Mario restaurant; the attentiveness to detail as Little Branch, Milk and Honey, or East Side Company Bar. Consistently good food and imaginative selections, such as what's valued by those who frequent this site.

Thanks for your input; I really appreciate it.

Edited by MeMc
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Do you have an idea of where you want to go to culinary school? For instance when I dabbled with the idea of going to culinary school and was looking at the Culinary Institute of America they provided me with a list of DC restaurants that had CIA grads who might be willing to provided work experience (CIA requires at least 6 months experience before entering their program).

If you were looking at a local culinary school, say L'Academie de Cuisine, I'm sure they could put you in touch with local chefs as well...there are a number of DC chefs/restaurants who have ties to L'Academie either because they are grads or they offer externships through the school.

Bottom line, definitely work in a restaurant before going to culinary school to get a feel of what work in a professional kitchen is like!

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I was thinking Hyde Park but I had also considered taking some classes at L'Academie in the meantime.

I know I also need to go more places more often to decide: CityZen, Rest. Eve, Corduroy, Cashion's, Komi, Circle Bistro, Maestro, etc. I am also interested in others' experiences, as well. Thanks for your response!. M

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I'm wondering whether restaurants ever let people without any experience "stage" for a few nights a week. A chef I know told me that she would gladly do this if she could (I told her I'd come in for free and peel potatoes or whatever else she was comfortable with letting me handle), but due to regulations and insurance risks it wouldn't be possible unless she brought me on as a paid employee (something she understandably wasn't willing to do).

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(CIA requires at least 6 months experience before entering their program). 

This always kind of bugged me. On one hand, it makes sense: ensuring that new students are already have some baseline skillset so they don't have to start from nothing with everybody who walks in the door. On the other...you're a cooking school. Teach people to cook. I know, they do, but you know what I mean. And sure, it's unlikely that anybody seeking to go to culinary school isn't already a pretty good cook. It's like how most computer science programs assume that you already pretty much know how to code when you walk in the door (And later, assume you know C as it is required for some classes but not actually taught in the CS curriculum). What is the dedicated amature with way-better-than-random-guy-on-the-street skills supposed to do when they want to make the jump to culinary school, but still have a metric assload of rent to pay for six months?

..........you know, hypothetically speaking.

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I'm wondering whether restaurants ever let people without any experience "stage" for a few nights a week.  A chef I know told me that she would gladly do this if she could (I told her I'd come in for free and peel potatoes or whatever else she was comfortable with letting me handle), but due to regulations and insurance risks it wouldn't be possible unless she brought me on as a paid employee (something she understandably wasn't willing to do).

What if they paid you $1 per night or some token salary so that they could technically say you were an employee?

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This always kind of bugged me.  On one hand, it makes sense: ensuring that new students are already have some baseline skillset so they don't have to start from nothing with everybody who walks in the door.  On the other...you're a cooking school.  Teach people to cook.  I know, they do, but you know what I mean. And sure, it's unlikely that anybody seeking to go to culinary school isn't already a pretty good cook. It's like how most computer science programs assume that you already pretty much know how to code when you walk in the door (And later, assume you know C as it is required for some classes but not actually taught in the CS curriculum).   What is the dedicated amature with way-better-than-random-guy-on-the-street skills supposed to do when they want to make the jump to culinary school, but still have a metric assload of rent to pay for six months? 

..........you know, hypothetically speaking.

The CIA is pretty fast and loose about the 6 month requirement. Really they just want you to have done some time in a professional kitchen so you know what you are getting into. Really it has little to do with knife skills since they are going to teach you everything the CIA way anyway.

The requirement can be fullfilled by doing a couple nights a week after work or on the weekends, you certainly don't have to do full time for 6 months at a restaurant. also, they are a little more lienent with people who already have a college degree, work a professional 9 to 5 job etc. Many CIA students are fresh out of high school or don't have any previous college experience.

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