Gastronomic Goals! Food Careers

dreamstime_xs_22002580 (2)Working in a service industry comes with its own share of challenges, namely working to please customers, which can be a mammoth challenge. But the restaurant and food industry can throw up some challenges like no other. Like you may have seen on MasterChef, a kitchen can be a pressure cooker of a place to work, but it’s not just in the kitchen where the challenges lie. If you feel like you are in the wrong career and you need a new challenge, then have a look at some options the food industry can throw at you and see if any of these whet your appetite.

Food Technologist

Not to be confused with when you went to food technology classes in school, this is a very different type of work when it comes to food, and can be very specific in the type of food you can specialize in. One such occupation, dairy technology, consists of studying the chemical components of milk products, like cheese, butter, and cream. While it may sound straightforward enough, the education involved in becoming a dairy technologist includes a bachelor’s degree, preferably in a food or science-based subject. You would need to know about the physiology of animals as well as various limbs of how milk is produced and nutrition in cattle. From there you would develop your career as a freelancer, either leading research projects or working with farms. To become a food technologist, it can be quite competitive due to the very small amount of roles that are available, but there are food careers recruitment companies, like Focus Management Consultants who are geared towards getting people jobs in the food industry. It is a lucrative career prospect, and research projects can go on for years, and with dairy being a mainstay in the food industry, there will need to be continuous research conducted into it.

Food Stylist

Yes, there is such a thing. If you have an artistic temperament and have an interest in food, this could be a good avenue to go down. As you would expect, the role of a food stylist is to make the plate aesthetically pleasing, which will increase the food’s appeal, and in turn, the restaurant’s appeal. To get into this area of work, you would attend culinary school for a couple of years before you begin to work with chefs on perfecting a meal’s image. There are not just restaurants that require food stylists, other opportunities include cruise ships, wedding caterers, and even casinos. You also have the opportunity to learn other skills, such as preparing a buffet that has many different elements that need to “work together” such as plating 100’s of Brussel sprouts, and you could even learn ice sculpting. For someone who has a keen eye for detail, and can turn a drab looking plate of food into something truly worthy of a photo opportunity, this is an ideal choice of career.  

Food Service Manager

A very challenging job, being in charge of a food service business, like a restaurant, requires many different skills. You could be looking after the budget, hiring (and firing) staff, ordering the food, or even cooking it if an unforeseen circumstance arose, and this is the tip of the iceberg. Other areas where you can be a food service manager includes a cruise ship, casinos, and family resorts. Sometimes these places can have more than one restaurant, so it becomes a big juggling act, all in the name of customer comfort. Essential skills for this role revolve around planning and working with people. You need to have a firm grasp in logistics and planning because of how busy restaurants tend to get. You will need to manage customer expectations and rise up to any challenge in customer satisfaction, and when it comes to food, we are all very particular, so a fine attention to detail is so important. As far as people skills are concerned, as a food service manager, you are working with all sorts of people, from the waiters to the chefs, and of course, the customers. So you need to have the common touch. And the final quality you need is the quality of calmness. It can be a stressful environment, and a difficult one, but if you have the necessary creative problem-solving skills and can go to culinary school for two years, it is a career that will satisfy your success tooth!

Waiting Staff

Last, but not least, being a waiter or waitress is more than just delivering food; it is about being the personality of the restaurant. You are the face of the business at that point, and you are the person that the customer will base their whole dining experience on. The food can be terrible, but if the service was excellent, it can help to positively charge a negative experience. And likewise, amazing food that was delivered late and without a smile can sour someone’s evening meal, where they may have been planning to propose, or they were enjoying their birthday. There are so many factors to take into account. It is not necessary to have a qualification to become a waiter or waitress. However, it is a career opportunity to work up the ladder and learn about the food industry from the very bottom. And in starting as a waiter or waitress, you are in the best position to learn about what it means to deliver a great meal, and what customers are looking for in their dining experiences. As a waiter/waitress, it all is down to you, and when customers show their appreciation, it is usually in tips. So it actually pays to smile and get the orders right. It sounds like a lot of responsibility, and that is because it is. The best restaurants are where the staff knows how to work with each other properly and work hard to make a customer’s dining experience one they want to talk about. And having customer recommendations means more business, which means more tips, so it is all in your best interests.   

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