Careers in food: 5 roles outside of the kitchen
“I didn’t even know my role existed.“
It’s something we’ve heard multiple times from industry professionals on the Food Matters Live podcast. Typically, they thought a “career in food” meant a career preparing it.
Likewise, many of those in the food industry say they never expected to end up there, largely because no one told them about the broad range of opportunities available.
In light of this, we’re shining a light on five lesser known roles within the food industry outside of the kitchen. For each job spotlight, we’ll meet an expert in the field to learn more about their role. You never know, your dream job may be hidden in our list:
1. Food stylist
We eat with our eyes before anything else, meaning food stylists are in high demand, especially in the digital age.
Combining an eye for a good picture with a love of good food, stylists take enticing photos of ingredients for things such as recipe books, magazines, and product packaging.
There is also demand for food stylists in the film industry where they must get creative to achieve the perfect shots. As the above video demonstrates, food stylists are masters of illusion.
To learn more about the role, check out our podcast with the marvellous Benjamina Ebuehi, Bake-Off contestant turned food stylist. You’ll find out how she was turned on to this unorthodox career path and how she managed to get a foot in the door.
2. Food flavourist
A food flavourist experiments with chemicals to engineer exciting flavour profiles in food products. Combining creative flair with problem solving skills, flavourists are key in the development and refinement of food products.
When a drink tastes like apple or your meatless burger makes you raise an eyebrow, you’re experiencing the handiwork of these flavour artists.
If that job description peaks your interest, tune in to our Career podcast with Marie Wright, chief global flavourist at ADM and a world-leading expert in flavour science.
She shares some invaluable tips for those looking to break into the industry and explains why creativity and science aren’t mutually exclusive.
3. Food taste-tester
Taste-testers sample a range of food and drink products. Typically, they work for food manufacturers, either in-house or via agencies, or for newspapers and magazines like the Good Housekeeping Institute and Guardian UK.
Food testers receive sensory evaluation training to ensure their taste buds are up to the job. Having a culinary background can certainly help, although it’s possible to break into the industry without it.
To learn more about this unique career path, listen to our interview with Angela Trofymova, group taste-tester at the Good Housekeeping Institute.
She leads the institute’s world-famous taste tests, sampling everything from gin and champagne to pigs in blankets and show-stopping desserts. Her career has even landed her with appearances on Good Morning Britain.
Listen to the full episode to find out how to work towards securing a job like Angela’s, what qualifications you might need and what you can expect to earn as a professional taster.
4. Food campaigner
Food campaigners lobby key change makers to implement new food policies, either independently or on behalf of NGO’s. To this end, they compile evidence in support of new legislation and build relationships with the relevant stakeholders.
Key issues that a food campaigner might tackle include food security, sustainability and public health. Requiring strong communication and research skills, a career as a food campaigner allows you to be a voice for change in the food industry.
To learn more about the day-to-day tasks of a campaigner, tune into our podcast feature with the Food Foundation. In this inspiring episode, we speak to Yumna Hussen and Saffron Stedall, two extraordinary teenagers campaigning against food poverty in the UK.
Their work as young ambassadors for the Food Foundation has taken them to COP26 and Downing Street as they fight to democratise healthy, affordable food.
5. Food scientist
Whilst your parents may have told you not to play with food, that’s exactly what food scientists get to do on a day-to-day basis.
Requiring a strong grounding in chemistry and biology, food scientists study the chemical properties of food to improve the flavour, texture, shelf-life and nutritional value of new products. They also hone processing methods to ensure food products are safe and legally compliant.
Want to learn more? Listen to our discussion with Liz Littlewood, Lead Technical Manager for Food, Beer, Wine and Spirits at Co-op UK. Her work as a food scientist was instrumental in launching The Co-op’s sourdough pizza range, even taking her on a tasty fact-finding mission to Italy.