Food Related Careers Other Than A Restaurant Chef

Posted: October 17, 2013 in NERDSTEAK - Brain Food
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

ID-100202053Many people possess a passion for food but don’t necessarily want to spend their nights, weekends, and holidays tucked away in the kitchen for their career choice.  There are a variety of options available for a foodie, not including positions at a traditional restaurant:

  • Catering/Food Truck – In some cases the hours can be better, you are more in control of the volume of work, and can plan ahead as opposed to a flurry of tickets and orders coming at you in a hot, sweaty kitchen.
  • Personal Chef – Famous people, rich people, and some large corporations like to have their own person on staff to cook what they want, when they want.
  • Corporate Chef – Large restaurant chains, food manufacturers, and retail outlets like to have someone at the helm to develop recipes, products, and presentations for the general public or to potential customers.
  • Research and Development Chef – Part chef, part product development specialist, an R&D chef is testing and creating foods and products for retail, foodservice, schools, hospitals, and further manufacturers.
  • Food Scientist/QC/QA – Understanding functionality of food and beverage, quality control, quality assurance, use of flavors, colors, preservatives, gum and starch systems, and analytical analysis of foodstuff.  Basically a ‘mathlete’ for food.
  • Market and Consumer Research/Analysis – Understanding consumer science, food trends, buying practices, and psychology of the food and beverage industry.
  • Consultant – Do you know everything but tired of ‘settling down?’ Many companies look to specialists for temporary or short term projects.
  • Nutritionist – Focussing on health and wellness, speciality diets, nutrient needs in hospitals for patients, or helping athletes achieve fitness goals.
  • Farmer/Forager – Truffles don’t grow on trees…well they do, but you have to find and gather them!  Also, all those fruits, vegetables, and grains don’t just magically appear.
  • Butcher/Fishmonger/Cheesemonger/Sommelier – Be a meat, fish, cheese, or wine expert and have lots of fun interesting factoids to talk about at parties!
  • Chef Instructor – If you have a passion for teaching and a love for food, this is the job for you.
  • Sales – Every industry around the world needs a sales guy to move their products.
  • Buyer – Every industry around the world needs a buyer to find products. Kind of repetitive.
  • Customer Service – Someone is on the other end of the phone when you call the customer service number printed on the package or on the website.
  • Restaurant Designer/Equipment Supply – Build the restaurant, furnish the restaurant, develop and supply the equipment, and know how to use it.
  • Manufacturing – The consumer packaged goods (CPG) industry is $2 trillion strong in the US, plus manufactured products for foodservice and B2B.  LOTS of opportunities.
  • Packaging/CPG Professional – Someone needs to design and engineer the box, bag, package, film and seal.
  • Food Critic – Fancy trying foods or restaurants, then providing honest (hopefully) opinions? This is a fun position but hard to become ‘THE’ food critic without a following or backing of a publication.
  • Food Writer/Marketing – Descriptive writing, tag lines, romance copy, and content development is fun and something I obviously do not possess.
  • PR/Publicist  – This is someone who manages the public image of a brand or product. Finding ad sponsors, creating hype, pitching news releases, and working with writers to create content.
  • Food Stylist – Making food tasty is one thing, but making food ascetically pleasing for pictures, packaging, and promotions is another.
  • Food Photographer – KInd of like Instagram but for real…and better
  • Cook Book Author/Blogger – For those who have the knack for writing interesting and creative recipes in book form! Unfortunately the internet has cut down on book sales, so many have turned to blogging instead.
  • Entertainment/TV/Celebrity Chef – If you are a character and know how to perform in front of a camera, this could be for you.  In fact, many of the current TV chef personalities can’t even cook that well! (BBUURRRNNNN)

There are dozens of job choices I have missed, so feel free to comment with more ideas!


  1. Great content…especially when folks are at crossroads in their careers! This gives such great insight into the food industry. And can help foodies align their interests and talents with careers!

  2. Alicia says:

    Love this post! As a career tech teacher I’m all about helping people find a career they love! In addition my brother in law started out as a restaurant chef and now does the personal chef thing. He also works teaching dinner parties where guests learn techniques. How fun is that!?

    • chefman316 says:

      That sounds like fun! I started in restaurants as well and now do the R&D thing.

      • Jabulile Mhlanga says:

        Interesting …. please help me as im currently a chef and i would love to become an R&D…. please help me as I Would like to know what i need to study to become that….

  3. SandyLand says:

    Don’t forget “Taster” – companies spend small fortunes on professional tasters. Even tea companies hire staff specifically to taste their latest concoctions. Can you imagine….a career as a full-time ice cream taster?

  4. emberyn says:

    Neat! I’ve never really considered the versatility of this career direction.

  5. Let’s all just get together and eat some damn food!

  6. Lo & Lil says:

    ooh I have the perfect person to share this post with – he is an ex chef due to the crazy hours and now currently in Food Sales. Thanks for posting!

  7. Tell me how a food critic can handle all that food without exercise. I’ve seen on TV of the food critics that are so big & have lots of weight & seem that they drink more than they exercise. Sometimes I try to get their names just to check them out. What is wrong with that picture? Where are they really headed?

  8. fnicole1 says:

    I am currently a college senior and experiencing the anxiety of what to do after I graduate! I am a total foodie and this post has inspired me to think outside the box of how to collaborate my interests with my degree! I have always loved doing special events and never really thought about it from a restaurant perspective! Along with the PR/Publicist area comes event coordinating as well, I have actually attended some wonderful events held by restaurants in Cleveland! Thank you for your post!

    • chefman316 says:

      Very cool! So what is your degree in? If you have any questions or need any advise please let me know!

      • fnicole1 says:

        I will have a communication degree in May! It is very broad, but most of my experience through my personal life and my internship have been in special events. Thank you very much, I appreciate you offering advice!

  9. What excellent ideas! For someone who loves food, you’ve given me lots to think about!

  10. What excellent ideas! For someone who loves food, I now have a lot to think about!

  11. chefemmy says:

    I LOVE this post. I was worried I’d only ever be a pastry chef but thankfully I was trained in Garde Manger in school and loved it too. But I am also a writer so I plan to go down that road also. Next is nutritionist and then bar management.

  12. we all burn out at some point… nice to know the options that exist. I am in my last restaurant and having fun… but it is the last…

  13. superchef1 says:

    Thank you for this post! I have recently graduated from a culinary academy and am in the same position of trying to break the mold of what people think is the only career path for me 🙂 Keep it up!

  14. In my dream life, I travel around the world and get paid to eat. Know anyone looking for an eater? I’m already packed with passport in hand.

  15. HealthyDoneRight says:

    My son is starting school to become a chef. This article is great! I will pass it along to him.

  16. HealthyDoneRight says:

    My son is starting school to be a chef. This is a great article! I will pass it on to him!

  17. It’s all about thinking outside the square. I’ve always loved food and wanted to go to uni, so I chose to study nutrition and dietetics!

  18. Anoush says:

    THANK YOU FOR THE LIKE! Always, Anoush!

  19. misenplacememoir says:

    Thanks for including restaurant designer on your list. Although commercial kitchen design extends over many types of food service: senior living, hospitals, schools, churches, country clubs, etc. This is an important career (if I may say so myself…) and many people in it have little or no hands on experince working in a kitchen. Many a chef I’ve met along the way eye me enviously when they find out I was a chef for 20 years and have morphed into a designer. Just sayin’…

  20. Marina says:

    Reblogged this on Health on Trial and commented:
    Amazing insight! @nerdsteak

  21. Lori says:

    I waited tables as a second job during a very lean financial season. I gotta say it was one of the most rewarding jobs I’ve ever had. It also helped that the the food I was bringing out of the kitchen was very good. I had never waited tables b/4 and really took to it and enjoyed it. Otherwise, I would love to have a food truck for charity work. Love your blog!

  22. Chef Doug says:

    Hello, I am at a cross road. I have been in the culinary arena for over 25 years, and a chef the last 15 years. I did not pay attention to my health early in my career and my weight ballooned to 300lbs. Over the last two years I have lost approx 75lbs. My knees are shot! So I am trying to see what else I can do with the skills I have acquired or new options. I’ve tried manufactuing a few products, thought about a cookbook, personal chef for a few wealthy clients, take two more years of college and become a nutritionist……….. Just really overwhelmed. Any suggestions and/or constructive criticisim.

    • chefman316 says:

      Good morning Doug,

      As far as health and wellbeing is concerned, going the R&D route has definitely helped me! Getting rid of nights, weekends, and holidays, was a big plus for me, as well as still being about to do something in the food arena. or are great resources to see what Corporate Chef or R&D positions are available in your area. Not only are the big chain restaurants always looking for chef resources, but the food manufacturing and retail industries as well.


  23. darra says:

    Stumbled upon this article while researching my career options. I’ve been a chef/food service professional for 30 years and I am currently looking for work, but I am at a crossroads and I have also been doing it so long now I may have priced myself out of the market. Would love to be able to get a new start in something where I can use my experience and yet not take a huge pay cut ! Where do I even begin ?

    • chefman316 says:

      There are some great online resources like LinkedIn,, and to find new job postings. Also, depending on your actual experience, you may be a great fit for a Corporate Chef position at a restaurant chain, retail store, or ingredient supplier.

  24. jarry hairy says:

    i like chicken yum

  25. demtre says:

    hello my fellow canadians i really like ur guys foods

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s