This career entails hard work and potentially unsociable hours....
But if you have a real passion for food, catering and creating something special, it could be the career for you.
There are more opportunities now than ever before to be your own boss; and to work independently if you have the knowledge and can get some financial backing. The more obvious careers are catering for well-known restaurants and hotels – with glamour and food going hand in hand, there’s a demand for TV chefs, magazine interviews and new creations of menus and dishes to support today’s busy lifestyles.
There are roles to develop food to help with research into allergies and intolerances. There will be careers as food technologists and development areas within the food industry as well as part of Environmental Health and food standards. You might choose a role within technology, product development or sales.
If you’re after a cool job then there are these interesting opportunities if you’re feeling adventurous:
Holistic Health Coach/Dietician/Nutritionist
Molecular Gastronomist (yes it’s a thing… combining physics and chemistry to experiment with textures and tastes…)
What skills and qualifications will I need?
A food related degree, with knowledge of food, technology, nutrition and health – you should be aware of food safety and quality management, good hygiene and food science. Microbiology and applied chemistry would also be useful in this area.
Above all else, you should be able to demonstrate a genuine interest and some knowledge in how science is applied to food and cookery.
You will need high standards of cleanliness and know about the strict hygiene rules. In general terms you should have good attention to detail, strong communication skills, have a flexible approach to working, good people skills, be able to work effectively within a team and demonstrate leadership skills. Time management and organisational skills are also key. For product development roles you’ll need food science skills, creativity, good business acumen and an understanding of marketing and research.
What else do I need to know?
Any potential employer will favour those who have experience - get some during summer and any holidays that you have – look at the different areas within the industry. You could work as a laboratory technician, or in the production line of a factory to see how the different processes along the chain interact and work. Make contacts and network, volunteer for a project and gain wider experience. There will be roles within government bodies, education, supermarket chains, manufacturing catering equipment, running food factories, local authorities and food & drink companies – the list is vast.
If you want to be a chef, hands on kitchen experience will be the essential place to start – not least to find out whether you can take the heat and the pressure of a working kitchen.
We’ve said it before but experience and genuine enthusiasm will go a long way to demonstrate that you’re serious about a career in the industry. It’s a broad spectrum so do your research early.
Where can I get more information?
Food industry sites like the Grocer will have news and information you will find useful https://www.thegrocer.co.uk.
You might find the Food and Drink Federation useful too https://www.fdf.org.uk