Careers in food capture the imagination and unleash the creative juices of many, if not all of us. There are almost endless possibilities and varieties when it comes to food; you name it – Italian, French, Chinese, Japanese, Mexican, Greek, and of course, American. And that’s just the cuisine we are talking about. How about chocolates, cakes, pastries, and fine wine? If you’re a foodie, you may want to take your passion to the next level and consider having a job in the food industry.
Top 5 Careers in Food
When we think of careers in food, the first thing that comes to mind is a chef. A chef is a well-trained and skilled professional who is proficient in all aspects of food preparation. The popularity of TV shows, such as Top Chef, Iron Chef, and MasterChef is a testament to the desire of the public to bring their passion for cooking to a higher level. And admit it, seeing how ordinary ingredients are transformed to visually pleasing, great tasting food can make you entertain the thought of being a chef yourself.
There are two ways to become a chef. The usual path is to get formal training from a culinary arts school. The less common, and harder way, is to gain experience working in a kitchen and then work your way up. Either way, all aspiring chefs begin in a low position, endure long working hours, and have to get used to a hectic, fast-paced job.
Of course, it’s not all bad. Practically all chefs are driven by their passion, much like artists are to their craft. It can be said that salary is not the primary consideration why people want to enter this profession. For them, being able to prepare delicious cuisine and knowing that people enjoyed their food creations make their hearts brim with joy.
Types of Chef
• Chef de cuisine – More popularly known as executive chef or head chef, this person is in-charge of all activities related to the kitchen. The responsibilities of a chef de cuisine include management of kitchen staff, menu creation, plating design, controlling raw material costs, ordering and purchasing of inventory.
• Sous-chef – The sous chef is the second-in-command and directly assists the chef de cuisine. Responsibilities include scheduling kitchen staff and substituting when the chef de cuisine is not present. A sous chef also conducts line checks and oversees the timely rotation of food products.
• Chef de partie – Also known as station chef or line cook, this person is in charge of a specific area of production. Often, line cooks are divided into a hierarchy (first cook, second cook, and so on).
• Commis – The commis (or range chef) is a chef who works under a chef de partie to learn the station’s responsibilities and operation. Usually, a commis is someone who has just graduated from culinary school or a person still undergoing training.
How much does a chef earn in a year? It depends on experience, location, and type of establishment. To give you a ballpark figure, the median salary for an executive chef is $63,448. A sous chef’s median salary is $44,700. On average, a chef de partie makes $30,917 a year, while commis or newbie chefs earn $27,000 a year.
2. Food scientist
Food scientists study the physical, chemical, and microbiological properties of food to make sure that they are safe for consumers. They are involved in the development of new food products, design of processes to produce food, shelf-life studies, choice of packaging materials, and sensory evaluation of products using panels or surveys of potential customers.
Other responsibilities include: 1) evaluating the nutritional value, flavor, and texture of food, 2) testing food samples for molds, yeast, and bacteria, and 3) ensuring that manufacturing processes conform to industry and government standards. How much does this job pay? The median salary for food scientists is $62,920.
Dietitians develop a nutritional plan based on a person’s medical condition and individual needs. They are licensed healthcare professionals who assess, diagnose, and treat nutritional problems. Also, they supervise the preparation of food, develop modified diets, educate people on good nutritional habits, and participate in research.
To become a registered dietitian, an individual should have a bachelor’s degree, complete an internship program, and pass the examination. Registered dietitians work in hospitals, health maintenance organizations (HMO), private practice, or other health care facilities. An increasing number also work in the food industry, academia, sports nutrition, and other non-traditional settings. The annual median salary for dietitians is $58,750.
Many people use the terms dietitian and nutritionist interchangeably. Although these professions are related, there are differences between the two. In some countries, the title “nutritionist” isn’t subject to professional regulation. All dietitians can be considered nutritionists; however, not all nutritionists are dietitians.
Nutritionists advise people on matters of food, nutrition, and its impact on health. They provide advice in a variety of settings to promote a healthy diet and lifestyle. Usually, a nutritionist works for local communities, research institutions, food manufacturers, and sports organizations. The annual median salary for nutritionists in the US is $56,950.
5. Restaurant manager
A restaurant manager is responsible for the efficient and profitable operation of a restaurant. They make sure that customers are satisfied both with the food and service. Other duties include supervising staff, promoting/marketing the business, and ensuring compliance with health and safety regulations.
To be considered for the job, you should have a degree in business or hotel and restaurant management. Work experience gained in a restaurant, hotel, or customer service is also required. The median salary for a restaurant manager is $51,465.