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What Food Job Would You Like?

We all talk about what we cook, what we eat, where we eat, what we consider proper in our dining companions, what we deem the sensible ways of going forward foodwise. Good. I'd like to propose a question: what food job would you really like? We all like food and many of us work in the business of feeding people. I would like those employed in the food world to chime in, as well as the rest of us who think we know something.

I'll say that, hell and dammit, the food job I'd really like is butchery. Yes, I eat mostly veggies, but I find I have a love of for animals that we eat...and so would love, as a food job, to be responsible for treating that food respectfully. Plus, I really love anatomy, and it seems very cool to deal with food and science. Aaaaand, I've had some experience with this in my growing up. There it is.

There's my fantasy food job. Anyone else? Share why (really, why?), please?

Best,
Cay

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  1. If i could actually write and had a really good palate, i would loooove to be a food critic. One of my favorite sections in any newspaper is the restaurant review...and getting paid to try out all kinds of food...perfect!

    1 Reply
    1. re: iluvtennis

      Yeah I would love to be a critic too - although I think I would like to include produce/market reviews as well and therefore require that whoever I was reviewing for included a gym membership with personal trainer in my salary!

    2. I think most people hate the job of chopping and prepping vegetables, but i absolutely love it...Must be why my mom loves having me around in the kitchen.

      1 Reply
      1. re: soypower

        I've done that as a restaurant cook, and I greatly prefer it to the pressures of working "the line". I like to have control of my workspace and be able to plan and execute tasks in an efficient and productive manner.
        I've been missing that part of work (I retired over 3 years ago) but not the craziness that seems to come with restaurant kitchens.

        So, instead, I do unpaid reviews of a few restaurants and publish them on this, and local forums.

      2. Not a Food Critic/Reviewer, but a Food Judge for Competitions. In no particular order, my favorites would be:

        Barbeque Ribs
        Pulled Pork
        Brisket
        Steaks
        Dim Sum
        Xiao Long Boa
        Anything Lobster
        Beluga Caviar
        Pizza
        Desserts
        Ice Creams

        1. Dream food job? I agree with iluvtennis. How great would it be to get paid to eat at the best restaurants in the world and tell people what you thought of them. Food critic would be pretty cool. I like what Bourdain does. Traveling the world, writing, making TV I know that he is cynical about the TV part but what an amazing life to get paid to lead. I like what Gordon Ramsey does. His show "The F Word" is pure genius I think it would be really fun to do that kind of show. I also love his show "Kitchen Nightmares" It seems so rewarding to travel around and save people's restaurants.

          The vanilla ice cream loving purist in me thinks that my real dream job may just be to be a chef. Behind the scenes but ever present. No ties, no cubicals, no excuses, very few things that are taboo to talk about. How rewarding must it be to push out food confidently to hundreds of people in a night. To move with purpose, quick and clean like second nature, no movement wasted. Sure you have to clean grease traps and work crazy hours in a high stress high temperature potentially dangerous kitchen. Sure it tends to be a low paying back breaking blue collar job. I think the down side to professional cooking probably just adds to the pride that one takes home at the end of the day. Also, the gradification is immediate, customers happy, food good, service successful awesome. There is just something cool about the idea of running a kitchen. Being responsible for executing food that people order and pay money for and get excited about.
          Plus I hear that girls dig chefs.
          And you get free beer.

          1. Back in 2002 I asked myself this very question. I spent two months thinking about my fantasy food job. I was a mental health counselor working with rescue worker trauma and was burnt out. Prior to that I had been a wilderness guide, corporate trainer, and adventure therapist. But, after high school and before college I had worked in retail wine and spirits. I had also done some private chef and caterer gigs.

            One day I taped large sheets of poster paper to the walls in my home office and started brain-storming about food jobs. I wrote down every idea, crack pot or not. I spent several months thinking about what food/beverage jobs I really wanted.

            While doing this I studied at the French Culinary Institute in the evenings fall of 2002 just for the fun of it. I had no real plan at this point, but wanted to improve my kitchen skills. In late fall 2002 and winter 2003 I quit counseling and worked on a start-up dairy farm learning to make artisanal cheese and bake brick oven, rustic bread. After that I worked on a ship-based university as a counselor again, but got to travel around the world. I took courses at every culinary school I could during my travels, eventually on five continents.

            I became a food and beverage business consultant through chance. I was at a local farmers market chatting with a farmer/vendor in Spring 2005 and suddenly ideas started spilling from my mouth. He asked me for my business card and asked my consulting fees. I ran home and printed out some business cards and quoted a fee. He hired me to help him develop food products like goats milk yogurt, for marketing, etc. I worked part-time with a ton of farms and food businesses doing all kinds of things, while having a small private counseling practice.

            Then in fall 2006 I applied for and got a food and beverage writing position online. I still do this but also write for magazines & newspapers and I also do wine/spirits reviews. I closed down my counseling practice and became a part-time writer and part-time food business consultant, which added up to 1-1/2 jobs and lots of fun.

            I entered cocktail contests starting in 2006 and did very well, so I started mixology consulting. Then this year I was asked to be a spirits judge as well, with a focus on rum and gin.

            Now I do all of the above, and as of last December I became a partner in a small winery that was six years old and doing very well. We just opening a small craft brewery, and I will have an artisanal distillery opening in the next few months.

            So I have my fantasy food job right now. Basically the bulk of it came about in less than two years, and I had started out with a two year, three year, five year, and ten year plan. I've surpassed my ten year plan and can't wait to see what new and fun things happen!

            1 Reply
            1. re: JMF

              Wow. Good for you. That is really impressive how you plotted, planned and conquered. You're an inspiration!

            2. already had it.

              Worked every position in the back of the house in many different types of food establishments & hotels. From short order cook, every position on the line, dishwasher, and even as a food purchasing manager. I was able to take all those skills, and now use them almost daily in running my home kitchen like a professional operation. From knowing where to source the best items to cook, and cook with, to knowing how to cook them once I get them home. Kind of a paid internship that pays off pretty much every night come dinner time.

              I dont dream to do any food job nowdays, if a person wanted to they could pretty much do/get any job they want.

              1. I'm not sure if I would want to be a chef or food critic, even though it seems like an obvious choice. I suspect there is a lot of drudgery involved in both jobs. As a chef, you have to a lot of stress dealing with sourcing ingredients, absentee staff, boorish customers, fickle markets. As a critic, for every gem of a resto you get to enjoy, there are at least 10 terrible joints you need to fairly review. I am enjoying cooking and casual restaurant critiquing, thanks to this site, and I like having all the fun and none of the responsibility.

                But a job I would really love? Fruit and vegetable hunter!!! Traveling around the world, looking for new and different varieties of fruit and vegetables, seeing them growing in the wild and on farms - there is nothing I love more than seeing a ripe fruit growing on a tree, or a field full of beautiful vegetables! And all the side food trips as I hunt down exotic fruit and veg? Awesome! Mangosteens! Here I come! Seeing those little beauties would make all the stress and frustration of traveling and hunting so worthwhile.

                1. Sauté Chef or Saucier - Responsible for all sautéed items and their sauce. As it is one of the highest positions in the kitchen, this is where I'd like to be; in the middle of the action.

                  As a person who has worked with their hands all their life, was a decent tennis player, road-racer, dirt and street bike rider and slalom ski racer, I enjoy the quick pace, quick movements and the food tossing. Your cooking timing must be better, and is more critical, than with a lot of other positions in a kitchen.
                  At home, I like the last five minutes of meal preparation, when things are hopping; bringing it all together at the right time. Let's saute and flambe!

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Scargod

                    Own my own taco wagon w/ real al pastor, tripas and lingua tacos! Just for the asada of it.

                  2. Food photographer. Not that I'm skilled at it now, but I would like to be. I love photography and pair that up with food and, well, you have a winning combination in my book.

                    If I had unlimited wealth, I'd love to own a specialty food store. I'd love searching for the foods and products to stock the shelves. To be surrounded by all that deliciousness daily would make me smile perpetually! :)

                    1. My job, of course. Agriculture is the production of food. As an agricultural (and environmental) scientist working for the poor in developing countries, I get to eat the best of foods in the remotest of places with the greatest of people. Some of the things I've worked on recently include conserving agrobiodiversity (mostly fruit and nuts) in Tajikistan in the face of climate change; improving the livelihoods of organic, fair trade coffee growers in Mexico, Central America, amd Peru; improving livestock feeding systems in Central America; and setting global priorities for improving crop drought tolerance or resistance. I've gotten to work with rice farmers on different problems in the Amazon, everywhere in south and southeast Asia and in eastern Africa. From East Timor to Laos to Bhutan to Madagascar to Pakistan to Peru to Vietnam to Mexico I eat in markets, in food stands, at no-name restaurants., and in people's homes.

                      That job is only matched by my other job: cooking for my five year old daughter the 50% of the time she is with me.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                        Wow Sam, I knew you had to do something interesting, but I had no idea! What an amazing adventure you seem to be on - on a regular basis. Huge! Well, this explains everything!

                        Given your travels, I'll bet your daughter has an amazingly broad & mature palate for a 5 yr old. Lucky her and lucky you too.

                        1. re: lynnlato

                          WOW indeed, But what does he do in his spare time? -:)

                      2. I would love to be a small artisan producer. Top choice would be goat farming/cheesemaking. Second is breadmaking. Third is charcuterie.

                        1. I would love to go back to Belgium and become a beer master. I was looking at PhDs in oenology (on a whim), but I don't love wine. I couldn't live wine. Now beer... ah, yes, that I could live and love. My goal is to one day make a proper tripel. Time/money are the rate limiting step. In the mean time, I'll just enjoy the works of the Belgian greats.

                          Also, I am fascinated with sustainable agriculture. I would love to go to Kauai and purchase a small plot of land to grow tropical fruit and make jams. Farming is just in my genes and I think I would really take to it. I keep going to lectures on sustainable urban farming and I just love listening to all the novel ways people are coming up with. Never mind how much sense it makes.

                          But in reality? I'm going to be a doctor. One day, I'll have enough free time to play. In present, though, I can daydream (hopefully not while someone is dying).

                          1. farmer first (i love growing things and i love the process of working with good earth)
                            wine maker second -- except i'm a total lightweight, so i'd be permanently smashed
                            chef third -- in a small, laid back restaurant with ten tables, serving only food made with the very best, fresh ingredients
                            food critic fourth

                            1. I'm heading in that direction now. We just bought a small B&B and plan to have that open by spring of next year. While talking over other ways of boosting the income of the B&B, especially during the slow periods, we decided to start a private dining club, sourcing the best of local foods and products, augmented with fine products from around the region that we can't obtain locally. Limited number of tables, extremely well-trained staff. We want to bring this along slowly in order to develop, control and maintain the quality of the dining experience.

                              1. I take the ice cream taster job thanks.

                                1. Bread baker--love the combination of art and science. Plus, there's something downright monkish about breadheads. Or ice cream maker.

                                  Or I'd like to be Sam Fujisaka!

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: nofunlatte

                                    Have it. Comestible Concierge at Dean & Deluca in Manhattan in SOHO store. Guide people through the store to the best products we have, lots of fun.

                                  2. I would love to create new taste sensations. For example a world class Chef hires me to come up with one new appetizer and 1 new entree each month. The pay is incredible and my only directive is deliciousness. My ability to source ingredients is unlimited by location or cost.
                                    Or I would like to be hired by Ben and Jerry's and have an unlimited budget. My job is to invent new and fantastic flavors. No pressure, just do your best. I will be paid my huge salary no matter how many or few flavors I come up with.

                                    1. Single Malt Taster!

                                      Or baker....but I need help with presentation as my stuff may taste great but not be as professionally pretty as it should be... :-(

                                      1. Sommelier at a Michelin 3-star establishment.

                                        Hunt

                                        1. Dream job? Culinary travel specialist, food anthropologists, food folklorists (i.e. the study of foodways, habits and traditions) and/or lecturer. Culinary arts instructor might work too. Possibly chef/owner of a neighborhood breakfast/lunch place with a Mexican/Latin twist. But now is not the best time to open a new restaurant and I'm too old and my body too beat up to take on that challenge. Not to mention, I am NOT, repeat NOT, a morning person (but I love, love, love breakfast...go figure)

                                          Food critic, been there/done that, not so interesting.
                                          Any of it beats the 30+ years I've spent in non-commercial food service managment.

                                          4 Replies
                                          1. re: DiningDiva

                                            As far as the food critic thing goes, what would you say was probably the worst part of that job?

                                            1. re: iluvtennis

                                              Speaking for myself, the worst part of being a food critic -- and the reason why I moved into writing a recipe column instead of writing restaurant reviews -- was getting my reviews back with notes from the editor saying things like "These people are advertisers. Please rework the paragraph where you compare the sauce on the chicken entree to baby vomit."

                                              1. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps

                                                Exactly!! Or having the entire review pulled. You can write a good, honest review that might not be totally flattering to the restaruant, but if they're an advertiser (i.e. revenue for the publication), chances are the piece (i.e. an expense for the publication) isn't going to see the light of day.

                                                The other issue for me was too much weight gain :-D. It's easy to put on, much harder to take off.

                                                1. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps

                                                  Well, that's discouraging. I love reading the restaurant reviews and want to think the reviewer is being totally honest. The Dallas Morning News got a new food reviewer a while back who ended up not being quite as fond of a certain restaurant in our area that i guess had previously enjoyed outstanding reviews. Maybe some people got really upset about this review or something, and it wasn't long before that same restaurant was reviewed again and given an additional star...we have tons of restaurants in our area, so the fact that one restaurant got reviewed twice by the same publication in a relatively short period of time was just really strange.

                                            2. I daydream about owing a burger shack on the beach somewhere tropical but not too touristy. Why? I'd only have to toss a burger on the grill for people as they amble by. Be open or closed when I want to. Get to be near the ocean all day long. Throw in a couple of margaritas, and I'm set. Of course, I'd have to start off with a lot of money because this is a losing proposition. But that's not the point, is it?

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: lisavf

                                                i would love to have a dive bar with unusual spectacular food!

                                              2. Own a small breakfsat/lunch cafe. When I lived in Sacramento, there was this great little place downtown called Greta's that I passed on the way to work and occasionally would stop in for a muffin or whatever. Small, maybe 12 tables and a small counter, in the hub of downtown, it was a great little place. Them, the owner decided to sell and the place actually came on hte market. Unfortunately, I was not a place in my life where that was even feasible. However, I did have a dream job, part time for a while, I started working as a personal chef for a number of families while keeping my day job and cooking on the weekends, until I conceded that it was really a lot of work while holding down my normal job. I do miss it though. Now I'm just the personal check to the DH and the cat.

                                                1. Run a breakfast delivery service on the island of Hawaii.

                                                  5 Replies
                                                  1. re: HillJ

                                                    Wow! That put a smile on my face (and I've never been to Hawaii, let alone the island of Hawaii). How does that work? What are the, other than obvious, rewards? Would it be serving tourists?

                                                    1. re: Scargod

                                                      Tourists, islanders, honeymooners, you name it.
                                                      Simple really..advertise high & low.
                                                      "Wake up to island java brew, fresh pineapple fruit salad, surfing/tide reports and toasts/eggs the way you like them!"
                                                      I can't think of a better job on earth. ONE DAY!

                                                      1. re: HillJ

                                                        http://www.chow.com/stories/11358
                                                        Okay, nix that idea. I want to work with Ann Cooper and solve the kids lunch problem!

                                                        1. re: HillJ

                                                          Well, that's a different approach. I would love to work with Jamie Oliver on his efforts re: school lunches and "normal" people learning to cook. I'd do it for free. Love the guy.

                                                          1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                            Sam, I caught parts of Jamie Olivers video outlining his school lunch approach. Frustration persists in turning the mindset. But we all can dream of "dream jobs."

                                                  2. I am a sweet junkie but also a bookworm. I would love a used book store where I had a small kitchen where I could bake whatever suits my mood. I think I would have problems working in a "bakery" cause then I would be required to bake the same things all the time. Sometimes I wanna do cookies, other times pies....etc.

                                                    Books and sweets. That's a dream job for me!

                                                    1. Teaching children to cook would be my dream food job! Especially after reading the "decline in home cooking" thread. It's such an important skill & kids are so much fun in the kitchen. I've posted a couple of times about my experiences with the kids in the kitchen, attempts to get them to try new foods & field trips to the farmers market. Love to teach them about nutrition, measurements, agriculture, budgets, recipe development, menu planning and the self esteem that comes from being proud of their "creations."

                                                      After years of being in training, operations, consulting and research & development in the foodservice industry, it would be great to go back to the basics and feel that I was making a more significant contribution. And for cstr, R & D included an ice cream company and it is everything you could imagine and more! Ridiculously fun to think up new ice cream flavors and develop the recipes.

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: oldbaycupcake

                                                        I would love to own a small - 8 tables or less - restaurant with my amazingly talented wife that serves a prix fixe dinner menu 4 to 5 nights a week.

                                                        Preferably on the Left Bank.

                                                      2. I want Alton Brown's job--travel the back roads (although instead of a motorcycle or boat I'd drive a minivan) and eat at local non-chain places and talk about it (and get paid handsomely!).

                                                        1. R&D chef for a higher end chain or freelance menu consultant.

                                                          1. I'd love to test techniques and recipes like they do for Cooks magazine. it seems like such a luxury to have the time and the resources to find the best method for making the perfect... anything.

                                                            Or a lunch truck- not original- but I'd move to different places every day and my devoted customers would follow me around town. One day would be soup, another would be sandwiches, etc.

                                                            Or I'd like to have a gourmet food shop. I love stores that have lots of different things to look at and buy. One favorite was Savenours in Boston. I knew I'd never buy the rattlesnake but just seeing that and the other unique food was my favorite way to spend an hour after work.

                                                            1. I am fortunate enough to teach cooking private cooking classes, either at my home or the client's home (I'm a chef). Love the flexible hours (only do it about once a week). Also do small home catering (i.e. anniversaries, staff parties, etc.). It enables me to continue learning more and more about food and techniques as well as utilizing some pretty interesting uncommon ingredients. To many clients money is no object so I get to be super creative. There is also a school program here in town that I get to occasionally instruct at - incredibly gratifying and terribly interesting.

                                                              As someone mentioned I want to learn more about butchery. As a child growing up on the farm my dad was a hunter. We also grew and butchered our own cattle, pigs, geese, ducks, turkeys and chickens. There is something to primal and earthy about it.

                                                              I would also love to be an artisan cheese maker.

                                                              It would also be appealing to live in Italy or Croatia and be a truffle hunter.

                                                              Food travel writer would be on my list as well.

                                                              1. I'd really like the chairman's job on Iron Chef America. He just hams it up for a while, then gets to taste at least 10 amazing dishes, with none of the pressure to score the dishes like the judges have. Pretty sweet, if you ask me.

                                                                1 Reply
                                                                1. I've got two "dream food jobs". As I'm a wine buyer already (which is pretty great) I'd love to take that experience and that of my fiance (who's a chef) and we'd like to open a little restaurant with a small, consistent menu and nightly specials that let us experiment with our wild ideas, a great bar(we are Wisconsinites) and a small retail section with wines, cheeses, charcuterie, etc. OR...I'd like to high-tail it back to a University and become a food anthropologist and/or historian. Imagine "research" for that one! Yes, please!

                                                                  1. I worked as a baker in college and I am considering doing it again if I can find the proper stand-alone bakery.

                                                                    1. Pastry chef. Oh, look, I have it!

                                                                      That, and I want to follow Sam all over the world, and have him show me where all the best things to eat are. How do you make that into a job?

                                                                      ; )

                                                                      3 Replies
                                                                      1. re: babette feasts

                                                                        But you're the only person I know but don't know who's eaten at El Bulli!

                                                                        1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                                          You really must go, it was everything I hoped it would be. The parmesan marshmallows, the 'lentils of ham', the pickled daisies...

                                                                        2. Grocery shopper for the rich. I loooove grocery shopping. Alternatives would be baker, pasta maker, or running an artisanal cheese farm.

                                                                          1. I want to be Herve This, the French chemist who with Nicholas Kurti invented molecular gastronomy (the academic pursuit, not the culinary movement). Make science all day long and use it to help people understand why food is the way it is, and cool new things to do with it. And also collaborate with a bunch of really creative, forward-thinking chefs.

                                                                            1. I have a couple. First I would love to travel the world, eating the local cuisines, talking to the people who cook for the family/village. I would write about my experiences and publish a cookbook featuring recipes and pictures I gathered from my travels. Next, I would love to open a small cooking school. Teach anything from the basics to the harder techniques. I would also include a class teaching the less fortunate how to maximize the money they recieve from the state, for food. I'd teach them how to shop and cook.Instead of buying processed crap, teach them that for the same amount of money and a little more time, they can feed their familes much better and healthier meals. Oh and I'd have guest chefs for specialty classes. The last food job I would have is to have a small lunctime sandwich shop. I'd serve, sandwich's, soup, and maybe gelato. Wouldn't open until 11 and close by 3 or 4 maybe. I wouldn't have any prepared sandwichs. Everything super fresh and the customers get to choose what they want.

                                                                              1. I have fallen into the best food-related job ever. I am a salesperson at a cookware store and we sell not just pot and pans but specialty food items and I cannot tell you how enjoyable this job is. Going to work is fun - not many people can say that!

                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                1. re: jillp

                                                                                  and I bet your employee discount makes for some sweet shopping, too.

                                                                                2. head chef, well...not so much a dream job, more like what I hope to achieve.