Why Businesses Should Partner with Culinary Schools for Externships

Working with Escoffier’s externs can help restaurants, bakeries, and hotels to fill entry-level positions and maybe find their next rock star hire!

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May 15, 2023 7 min read

Keeping your kitchen, bakery, hotel, or other foodservice business well-staffed is a constant challenge. Promoting from within means you’re always on the lookout for hardworking, well-trained, entry-level team members. And a great way to access this very talent pool is by bringing in externs.

An externship partnership can help keep your business well-staffed, saving you time and effort in building a professional workforce. By working with a reputable culinary school like Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts, employers can bring on full-time, entry-level employees who are nearing graduation day. These employees then have the opportunity to satisfy their externship requirements while also filling an important role in the kitchen hierarchy.

Here are a few of the benefits that culinary externship partners may get to enjoy.

Consistent Access to Trained Cooks

We all know that COVID-19 temporarily decreased business volume in the restaurant industry. But that business is back. The National Restaurant Association projects that foodservice employment is projected to reach 15.5M by the end of 2023, surpassing pre-pandemic employment levels. But who is filling these roles? Escoffier Vice President of Enterprise Solutions Denise Sullivan has heard from hiring managers that it’s still hard to find trained talent.* In fact, 70% of restaurant operators say they still don’t have enough staff. It’s the second biggest problem in the restaurant industry according to owners. The average turnover in 2022 was around 62%. Plus, turnover is both disruptive and expensive, with the average cost to replace a restaurant industry employee hovering at $6,800.

Finding staff and working to reduce turnover are constants in this industry. Externships give employers a way to add to your team, whether on a short-term or long-term basis. With a ground-floor understanding of culinary skills and a willingness to learn, these graduates are equipped to begin their first culinary jobs.

Smiling chef cutting carrots and other vegetables on a white cutting board in a kitchen

Trained externs may be able to support your prep team.

While Escoffier externs often begin in entry-level positions, they may not stay in them for long! Stacey Jones, an Escoffier Pastry Arts graduate, completed her externship at hip Austin restaurant Sway. That externship led to a promotion to pastry chef, which led to a position as Sous Chef, which led to a promotion to Chef de Cuisine!*

Patricia Souza, Vice President of Career Services at Escoffier, said, “We really look at our employer partners’ expectations and our externship students’ abilities, and we try to match both for a long-term relationship.”*

Patricia Souza, VP of Career Services at Escoffier“Employers contact Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts because they understand that when they interview our students, they are going to meet with skilled workers that have an understanding of terminology, sanitation, and safety guidelines, and a desire to build upon the foundations they received through Escoffier with a career in the culinary industry.”*
Patricia Souza, Vice President Of Career Services At Escoffier

Get the Benefit of Consistent Training

Employers are more likely to see consistency from culinary school grads. A line cook, even one with several years of experience, may not have received dedicated training on sanitation, for example.

But by partnering with Escoffier, employers may expect that externs from the same program could have completed the same basic curriculum. This can help employers to “standardize” their externships, since they’ll know what students have studied.

One criticism that chefs often have of culinary school students and graduates is that they can be a bit “big for their britches.” In other words, they think they’re automatically chefs after earning a degree. At Escoffier, we’re very clear with our students—we’re training them to be professional cooks, but they must maintain their eagerness to learn well beyond graduation day. They’re not chefs yet—but one day, they may earn that title.

Help Train the Future Generation of Cooks & Chefs

While employers are able to find well-trained, entry-level kitchen staff when they partner with culinary schools for externs, they have an important responsibility, too.

Hiring chefs have the privilege of training and mentoring future culinarians. They can share their knowledge with the next generation, protecting culinary expertise for future chefs. This is vitally important at a time when some older methods of classical cuisine are being lost to technology and modern conveniences.

Chef training a new employee while hey hold a casserole dish in front of a large oven

Chefs can pass on what they know to the next generation—just as it was passed down to them.

Escoffier’s partners have the freedom to put their externs to work however they see fit. There is no pre-determined requirement for Escoffier’s externs—they’re to be treated as employees. So you can get the benefits of externs that you can help mold and train, without a large time commitment.

Access a National Network of Students

Most culinary schools have one or a few campuses, which means their graduates are often looking for externships and employment in the same local market.

With Escoffier’s online programs, we have graduates and connections all across the United States and the world. A national brand, like Escoffier employer partners Sodexo or Omni Hotels & Resorts, can potentially find externs and employees for their culinary operations in nearly any city! These employers provide a stable home base where graduates can establish roots and grow in their careers.

This national network can also mean that companies that plan to relocate or expand to a new city may be able to find qualified externs and employees that share the same high-quality Escoffier credentials.

Denise Sullivan“A relationship with Escoffier can ensure consistency in training, regardless of location, because of our national presence. There is no other culinary school that can offer this.”*
Denise Sullivan, Escoffier Vice President of Enterprise Solutions

Take Partnerships Even Further

Access to externs isn’t the only reason that businesses should team up with culinary schools. In Escoffier’s case, the school has a partnership with Auguste Escoffier Global Solutions, which offers the opportunity to train the staff you already have, with its Work & Learn program.

Work & Learn is a pathway to education for your best and brightest employees. Those who apply and qualify can work for you while simultaneously attending one of Escoffier’s online programs or at our Boulder campus. Students can get the benefit of a culinary education and be eligible for Escoffier scholarships. Work & Learn scholarships range from $2,000 to a scholarship covering 25% of their tuition and fees, for participants of Work & Learn MAX. And employers can get the benefit of a trained culinarian who may demonstrate longer retention.

Chef Tim Condon of The Angry Cactus in San Angelo, TX, is a strong advocate for Work & Learn. With one student already through the program and several more in progress, he’s making Work & Learn a substantial part of his business model. Chef Tim says, “My goal is that anyone who comes here does a culinary program with Work & Learn that, when it’s all said and done, will be 100 percent paid for [through fundraising and scholarships].”*

Chef Tim and Escoffier graduate Terrydon Williams explain what they love about Work & Learn.

Partner with Escoffier

Partnering with a culinary school can help to close the gap between the staff you have and the staff you need. Whether through an extern student or the ability to access higher education for your existing staff, Escoffier Works has you covered across the nation. Employers that invest this time into young culinarians can reap the rewards down the line!

If you’re interested in partnering with Escoffier to provide externships or employment opportunities to graduates, get in touch!

If you’d like to learn more about the business side of the culinary industry, read these articles next:

This article was originally posted on December 7, 2020, and has since been updated.

*Information may not reflect every student’s experience. Results and outcomes may be based on several factors, such as geographical region or previous experience.

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