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Stages Listen Up: Chef Wylie Dufresne Has 4 Serious Tips For You

The famed NYC chef offers up advice to stages in an essay for MAD4.

Alder NYC

At this year's MAD4 conference in Copenhagen, attendees were given a book of essays that were meant to complement the live talks at the symposium. Chef Wylie Dufresne published a piece with the current chef de cuisine of his famed New York City restaurant WD-50, Sam Henderson. The essay is they story of how Dufresne and Henderson met: Henderson actually started out as a stage — that Dufresne called by the wrong name for an entire month — who worked her way up through the ranks. Throughout the essay, Dufresne drops some serious wisdom bombs about staging. Below, the best ones:

  • "During my stages, I certainly knew who the alpha predator was. I knew whose name was on the door. I had a pretty good idea what he looked like, and I had burned it into my head to stay out of harm's way.  'Oui' and 'chef' were the only two words I planned on saying if we spoke."
  • "Because it's okay to bring very little to the party as long as you bring the right attitude, one that says I'll do anything anytime, anywhere, anyhow. Chefs remember that."
  • "Beyond a willingness to work, there's the presence needed to know how to learn: ask to see it once, and only need to see it once to get it right."
  • "Another thing with staging: Be available and don't have restrictions. The stage should be the engagement that happens at all costs. Don't arrange a stage somewhere if you're going to need to leave early to catch a train at night. That's what they'll remember about you, not the good work you did."

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