11/20/2010

Careers for People Who Love Food

Recently a student of mine was struggling to identify things that he might want to do when he "grows up".  Finally, in a rather embarassed way, he suggested that he might be interested in something having to do with food.  I think he was a little stunned when I proceeded to rattle off a whole list of jobs that would allow him to work with food.  This list is in his honor, but I admit to having thoroughly enjoyed compiling it - imagine being paid to eat!
  1. Chef.  Requires training, but not necessarily at a cooking school - some restaurants will allow you to start off as a lowely commis and work your way up.  Some variations include sous chef, saucier, pastry chef, and garde manger.
  2. Personal Chef.  If the idea of working in a frantic, crowded, steaming kitchen doesn't appeal to you, offer your services as a personal chef to people who have more money than they do time.
  3. Caterer.  Join an existing catering company or start your own. You can specialize in food preparating, "plating" (making it look pretty) and/or serving.
  4. Baker.  Find employment at a going concern or branch out on your own, selling baked goods to local stores or at farmers' markets.
  5. Confectioner.  Making candy for a living - now that's a career I could get behind!
  6. Cake decorating.  You don't actually have to be as gifted as those folks on the cable television decorating shows (though if you are, you'll never want for work!).  Plenty of grocery stores and stand-alone bakeries looking for people capable of creating good-looking cakes at a brisk clip.
  7. Farming/Gardening.  Grow your own!
  8. Wine-making.  You can make your own wines, or sell your grapes to wineries who will do the work for you.  Lots of opportunities to sponsor/attend events that focus on how to pair wines with good food.
  9. Brewing.  Make your own beer!
  10. Sommalier.  Or, if you enjoy wines but have no interest in growing them yourself, become a sommalier - that guy at the fancier restaurants who recommends the wines and decants them for you. Note: You must look good in a tux or gown.
  11. Cooking Instructor.  Market your food prep skills by offering cooking classes.  You'll be especially desirable as a teacher if you have some specific expertise to offer: ex, French cooking, gluten-free cooking, cake decorating, cooking for children.
  12. Cookbook Author.  Or, if you don't want to teach, try assembling your best recipes into a cookbook.  If you're lucky, a major publisher will pick up your cookbook and market it for you.  If you'd rather avoid that hassle, however, you can always sell your cookbook at craft shows/farmers' markets or even online.
  13. Dietician.  Help people conquer their struggles with food by becoming a dietician.  The job isn't just about helping people lose weight: you'll also have an opportunity to help athletes, diabetics, chemotherapy patients, people with food sensitivities, and others. 
  14. Test Kitchen Employee.  Yes, this is a real job!  Cookbook and cooking magazine publishers always test the recipes they plan to publish.  Not sure exactly how you land one of these jobs, but I know they're out there!
  15. Food Critic.  You don't have to work for The New York Times or Fodors - even local newspapers regularly run restaurant reviews.  Or, if you aren't so worried about getting paid, create a blog and post your restaurant reviews there.
  16. Restaurant/Food Service Worker.  One of the most obvious ways to work with food is to join the staff of a company that specializes in food/hospitality.  Just choose your venue: fast food joint, classy food joint, food cart, bar, hotel ...
  17. Restaurant/Food Service Owner/Manager.  If preparing/serving food doesn't appeal to you, consider a position that will allow you to focus on brainstorming menu choices, shopping for unique/quality ingredients, and creating dining experiences.
  18. Event Planner.  People who plan weddings, conferences, etc. are expected, as part of the job, to provide appropriate dining alternatives.  The cool part is that many caterers/restaurants/hotels, eager to win your business, will offer "comped" meals and tastings.
  19. Food Bank/Community Kitchen.  If the idea of blending cooking and community service appeals to you, considering working at a community food bank or kitchen.
  20. Food Journalist.  You don't have to criticize food to have an excuse to write about it - just pick up an edition of Bon Appetit or Weight Watchers magazine and count how many articles there are in each.  Someone's got to write them - why not you?
  21. Culinary Travel Specialist.  Why not combine your love of food with your love of travel, by getting into the so-called "food tourism" business?  I'm guessing this usually involves organizing trips to exotic foreign destinations, though there may be a business to be made out of arranging local food tours, if you're lucky enough to live in an urban area where international offerings are abundant.
  22. Food Scientist/Chemist.  If the science of cooking appeals to you, consider becoming a food scientist or chemist.  Plenty of companies out there eager to invent the next big thing: frozen foods that don't taste frozen, fruits that don't spoil, or the Holy Grail of food science, a side-effects-free sugar substitute
  23. Food Photographer.  If you're into photography, consider specializing in food.  There's a great deal of art that goes into making food look delicious, fresh and appetizing, and people are willing to pay for the services of a photographer who does this well.
  24. Grocery Store Employee/Manager.  All the fun of working with food without having to worry about preparing/serving it. 
  25. Personal Grocery Shopper.  It's not glamorous, but if you like the idea of shopping for food using someone else's money, more and more grocery stores are offering this as a service to customers who don't have the time or ability to do their own shopping.
  26. Theatre.  I stuck this one on the list because you always hear about theaters/studios setting up big food tables so the performers and technicians can grab sustainance in between takes.    
  27. Politician/Lobbyist.  Frequent wining/dining is a prerequisite for both jobs - the major difference between them is who pays.
  28. Celebrity.  Become a celebrity and you'll never have to pay for food again!  Everyone will be eager to shower you with free meals and delicacies.  The downside, of course, is that if you want to continue to be a celebrity, you'll probably need to watch your weight.  Cruel, isn't it?

1 comment:

  1. Been looking to do something in the food buiness for a while. Thanks alot for the wonderful tips

    ReplyDelete