Top 10 Coolest Careers in the Food Industry

Careers in food

Having a food related career sounds like a dream job, you get to experiment with the finest ingredients, discover new flavours that you wouldn’t have known and unlike most 9-to-5 jobs, every day brings new surprises and challenges.

And while becoming a chef is the most popular choice for people interested in the culinary industry, unfortunately, not everyone is born to be the next Gordon Ramsay or Nigella Lawson. But that doesn’t mean you can’t utilize your passion somewhere else.

The catering industry is bustling with numerous opportunities available for those seeking to find their niche. So, if you’re looking to have a career in the culinary arts, here are some awesome jobs that are worth considering!

1. Food Stylist

Have you ever seen an ice cream advert and asked yourself, ‘hey, how does that ice cream never melt?’ That’s because they’re actually potatoes (mind-blowing, right?!). These and other techniques are what food stylists use to make their goods looks appetizing whether on print or on TV.

While they’re not necessarily culinary experts, food stylists are essential to the industry because they help to promote and sell their products. They also work closely with a lot of influential people in the industry including chefs, editors and restaurateurs.

Average Salary: $62,334 (£47,167) per year

2. Research and Development Chefs

If you’ve ever wondered how companies come up with flavours like Jalapeno Ice Cream or Buffalo Wing Soda - paid link (yes, it’s a real thing), then you can thank the good people of the research and development (R&D) team. Their key duties include creating new products and discovering new flavours for the industry, be it for a small restaurant or an established conglomerate.

Most R&D chefs have a culinary and scientific background since knowledge in both studies are necessary for their profession. Apart from creating unique ideas, they’re also tasked to attend trade shows, create client presentations and come up with recipes that can easily be replicated by a member of their team. If you love experimenting with food and flavours, this job is definitely for you.

Average Salary: $55,206 (£41,764) per year

3. Food Photographer

Unlike people, food doesn’t have the ability to follow or take orders. Which is why when it comes to shooting them, no ordinary photographer will do.

Food photographers often experiment with products to find out how to make them appear more appealing on screen. They take photos from different angles, use special lenses and spend a lot of time on their lighting to get the perfect shot. Much like stylists, these kind of photographers are also highly in-demand because of their unique skills.

Average Salary: $47,932 (£36,269) per year

4. Sommelier

Becoming a sommelier is an intense and laborious process but the people who pass are rewarded with a lucrative career. Contrary to popular belief, there’s more to the job than sniffing and tasting an endless supply of wine.

Sommeliers are highly-educated in the wine industry and have to undergo several exams before they’re certified. But if living the high life and enjoying the vineyard suits your taste, then this could be a good fit for you.

Average Salary: $47,788 (£36,181)

5. Food Critic

Perhaps one of the most coveted culinary jobs is to become a food critic, largely because the profession (literally) requires eating for a living. But critics have their fair share of challenges, which include refusing briberies, avoiding threats and sometimes, choosing a life of anonymity to keep their opinions unbiased. Apart from having a great palate, food critics must also be talented writers.

Average Salary: $45000 (£34,183)

6. Restaurant Publicist

As the title suggests, restaurant publicists are responsible for ensuring that restaurants get the publicity or attention they need to thrive. They create press releases, communicate with different media outlets and maintain relationships with critics to ensure the restaurant’s good standing.  They also work with marketing to come up with effective social media strategies.

Of course, the best way to sell a restaurant is to be familiar with what it has to offer. Oftentimes, publicists will get to taste new items on the menu before it even hits the market, so they can properly promote it. But it’s not all fun and games as they also have the unfortunate task of putting out fires when a restaurant or its chef gets into a scandal.

Average Salary: $29,688 (£22,466) per year

7. Cake Decorator

Unlike bakers and pastry chefs, cake decorators have a responsibility to make baked goods that are visually appealing and equally delicious.  Theirs is a technical skill that requires a lot of trial and error. Cake decorators are especially in-demand during holidays and wedding seasons, where a cake’s main function is to dazzle and wow the guests.

Average Salary: $29,446 (£22,302)

8. Appliances and Technology Tester

Every once in a while, when you’re strolling aimlessly between grocery aisles or switching channels because of insomnia, you stumble upon a kitchen product and think, ‘huh. I wonder who tests banana guards for a living.’ Because someone does, and that someone holds the position of Appliances and Technology (A&T) Tester.

If you’ve always loved playing with kitchen gadgets as a child, then this is definitely your dream job. A&T testers are in charge of reviewing and rating a product either before or as soon as they hit the shelves.

Average Salary: $26,427(£20,000) per year

9. Food Forager

Foragers explore forests, climb mountainsides and visit estuaries to find and collect a chef’s most sought-after ingredients. They must have an intimate knowledge of various flora and fauna and where to find them. A relatively new profession that’s quickly gaining ground, it’s a good fit for those who love food and adventure, presenting many perks for those who don’t want a 9 to 5 job.

However, being a forager isn’t for the faint-hearted. On the job, you’ll be exposed to a lot of dangerous elements like unpredictable climate changes and unfamiliar terrains. Apart from that, your source of income is also very unstable since it will largely depend on demand and weather conditions.

Since foraging is still a new profession, there’s no concrete data on potential earnings, however, according to the Independent, foragers usually earn £50 ($66) a week.

10. Food Entrepreneur 

Unlike restaurateurs, food entrepreneurs focus on specific culinary items and perfect the recipe to make sure that they’re commercially viable. They also don’t put in as much capital and would normally create their products on a per order basis.

Whether it’s bottling up your family’s perfect barbecue sauce or selling your very own batch of red velvet cookies, becoming a food entrepreneur is a great career option, especially since previously hard to reach markets, are now easily accessible through the help of social media.

Since most food entrepreneurs are self-employed, there’s no standard rate for salaries. But, if you’ve got a good product, you can earn up to £1,000 ($1,300) a week, like 11-year-old Henry Patterson who set up a booming sweet business.

As the industry grows, more and more career options open up for those who are massive foodies but don’t necessarily fit the more typical professions. From food blogging to becoming a master chocolatier, the choices for food jobs are endless. But as with any career, the key to succeeding is to persevere despite hardships and to keep looking until you find the right fit.  

Salary information is based on data compiled and published by PayScale and Glassdoor. Currency conversions are based on rates supplied by on 12 July 2018.