Your first professional foray into the world of hospitality can have a significant impact not only on your career, but also your life. Before they were working at award-winning restaurants, these culinary leaders were learning as much as they could while working their way up from the bottom. Here are some of their lessons learned and experiences gained from their first jobs in the restaurant industry.


"My stage at Martín Berasategui's restaurant in San Sebastien planted the seed and created my vision for Aldea. The restaurant's concept was deeply rooted in the classics that he grew up eating from his family cooking. There was also a bistro in town that served traditional Basque cuisine inspired by old world flavors, that I frequented very often. The whole experience during that time opened up a path and helped me figure out what I wanted Aldea to be."

George Mendes, Chef and Partner of Aldea and Lupulo in New York, NY  

"When I worked at the Four Seasons in Toronto, I was 20 years old. I remember being both afraid and fascinated by every wine and each ingredient. I wanted to be able to speak confidently if a guest asked me anything. I studied, learned, and tasted for months until I felt secure. This curiosity helped me to move forward and discover what else was out there."

Jennifer Foucher, Head Sommelier at Fiola in Washington, D.C. 

"My best internship was working at the Ryland Inn in 2001 and 2002. It connected what the artists and craftsmen did in the kitchen with something very natural and beautiful."

 Raj Vaidya, Head Sommelier at Daniel in New York, NY

"My first Job after Hotel Management School in Germany was in Austria as a Kitchen Server. I picked up a lot of my management style from my mentor there, the Maitre d’hotel, Mr. Ramsebener. He was very old school. He never told you what you had done wrong explicitly, but guided you to discover and correct it yourself. I’ll never forget him telling me one day, “guests don’t like to see leaves on the floor.” I knew there was something behind me that needed to be picked up."

Sandra Schäuffele, Assistant General Manager at Per Se in New York, NY

"My best externship was at Domaine Chandon. It changed my outlook on cooking and helped shape my entire career. Robert Curry gave me a chance, and let me cook on the line, plate food, and treated as a regular cook and not an extern."

Gavin Kaysen, Executive Chef, and Owner of Spoon and Stable and Bellecour in Minneapolis, MN


If you are starting out in your career or looking for a new place to learn and grow, check out these internships and externships available near you.