Is the Tradition of Stages Nearing Its Last Days?
Illegal labour? Well, apparently that’s whats been going on under our noses at some of our favorite and most prestigious restaurants. Stagiaires.
A stagiaire is an unpaid kitchen intern, pretty much. Many of the workers doing their jobs in restaurants all over the United States are illegally working for free. Conundrum!
I guess it takes a pretty brave and hardworking soul. The people who take on these stagiaire positions work anywhere from one day to several months at a time, without receiving any compensation whatsoever. And interestingly enough, they are apparently the hallmark of the high-class eating establishments.
Nevertheless, it’s still illegal work that they’re doing, under the long-standing federal law that is currently in place.
But where did something like staging even originate from to begin with? It predates the high quality class of restaurants that have been in America – it all started in France, and found its way into the states. And everyone from Rene Redzepi to Los Angeles chef Michael Voltaggio has made a trip to Napa Valley to stage with the French Laundry’s Thomas Keller.
But the culture of compliance will not protect the industry forever, and unpaid wage claims will hit America’s best restaurants: It is not a matter of if, but when.