Inside Internships: Benoit
Several Enderun students tell Ink about their internship experiences. Jodee Verdejo and Phoebe Punla interview Camille Barba, Jessa Jastrzemski, Lisa and Sasha Zakharka, Nitesh Dolwani, Rafael Valdez, and Lora Ledesma to know what life is like as interns.
Rafa Valdes, who recently finished his internship in a Benoit, an Alain Ducasse property in New York, shares how it is like working in a kitchen with seasoned professionals and extremely high standards.
“I was really nervous coming into this internship,” he quips, “I knew that there was a lot of pressure going into this because it was an ADF internship and the standards were going to be very high.” Rafa was assigned to the garde manger or cold kitchen, where he had a partner who taught him about the station; from mise en place, making the dishes themselves, and cleaning up after the shift. He was challenged to learn the recipes as fast as possible as there was no time to practice them. He adds, “There is no babying or shadowing you. […] They expected me to perform like every other employee there.”
Going deeper into his internship, he eventually found his silver lining. “After I got more familiar with everything and established my own work flow, things got easier and easier for me.” He also shares that his most valued moments were “those nights when I had a flawless service and the chef would shake my hand after our shift and say, ‘Good job.’ Simple things like that are such big morale boosters.”
Rafa sees his experience as an eye-opener. It instilled in him the right mindset and changed his work habits as well. He learned what is needed to succeed in his chosen industry. He believes that the most important lesson is “to have passion, to pay attention to detail and to always be hungry.”
He also recognizes the advantage he now has because of his internship. “I believe that the properties that the interns end up working in are topnotch in the industry and really prepare the students for the real world.”
Here are Rafa’s parting words for prospective interns: “Learn as much as you can. Stay sharp and really make a good impression. Do more than what is expected of you.”