As mentioned in the last article, culinary apprenticeships represent an essential tradition for those who have devoted their lives scavenging gastronomical perfection. In the last 20 years, this tradition has been in a debate by chefs, cooks, managers, and journalists all over the globe. In April 2016 Tapas Magazine published an article on the lifestyle of stagers in the mythical restaurant El Bulli of Ferran Adria, El Celler de Can Roca of the Roca brothers and many others. The piece is based on conversations with chefs and the book Sorcerer’s Apprentices of Lisa Abend, where the author narrates the most profound stories and secrets of being an apprentice in El Bulli.
Marta Fernández Guadaño, the founder of Gastroeconomy, wrote an article on fine dining restaurant stagers and apprenticeship. She has written several pieces on this topic resembling the non-paid long hours and the high demands in order to achieve perfection. Several countries had changed their legislation, laws, and policies on internships and required practice hours, specifically in the field of hospitality. Peruvian legislation demanded to pay the minimum salary (850 soles; 263 dollars) to an intern. The media pressure on restaurants abolished the free practice and unpaid hours in fine dining restaurants, although it remains firmly rooted in the rest of the sector and is usually the norm in law firms and other industries.
In Spain, El Celler de Can Roca is known to be one of the best in the world, according to the 50 Best lists, and it has developed an internship program that provides the proper formation and covers the primary needs of stagers. The Roca brother and their management team provide housing, uniforms, food, courses and classes, and a small stipend. As they are pioneers in this movement, other culinary giants are joining the effort in order to prevent and develop a better lifestyle among the hospitality industry workers.
Fernández mentioned in her article that stagiers demanded justices, but that tradition had become institutionalized by the recurrent practice and abuse. She published a book called ‘Reinventors’ where she presents and predicts the future of gastronomy from the standpoint of certain flagship restaurants and chefs who are the synonym of innovation. There are many more articles written about the sad and despairing truth of hospitality workers. As an entertaining and informative exercise check out this Reddit post and read about the experience as an stager.