Some people are great lovers of food and the culinary arts, but could not begin to fathom how to so much as boil water when it comes to cooking, never mind trying to serve up a top quality four-course meal. But even if you are a connoisseur at the table but a klutz in the kitchen, you do not give up your dreams of working with food. Instead, check out these four fun careers for food lovers.
- Food critic. Websites like UrbanSpoon.com and Yelp.com have enabled just about anybody to become an overnight food critic. Yet, professional food critics are still very much in demand. This is because unlike the majority of diners leaving their reviews on the World Wide Web, professional food critics have more cultivated palettes as well as well-honed writing skills. Food critics typically work for newspapers, magazines, and official Internet publications. Their reviews summarize what diners are likely to experience in terms of dining experience, service, ambience, price, and of course, food quality, originality, and taste. Oftentimes, food critics will sample various dishes to get a more comprehensive understanding of the establishment’s menu as well as return several times to test the eatery’s consistency. Copious notes must be taken, and after leaving the establishment, food critics will craft an article that will vividly recount the experience for readers. Some interviews with patrons and eatery owners may also be included as it would give readers a deeper understanding of where their food is coming from.
- Sommelier. A sommelier is an expert in wine. Many fine dining establishments have at least one sommelier, who works with diners to choose the best wines to compliment the dishes they order. For example, sommeliers may see that a diner has ordered something delicate like fish and suggest an equally light wine to be paired with it in order to bring out the best notes of the ingredients in the dish. All of the wines that a restaurant offers are also carefully selected by sommeliers, and some may even endeavor to include only local or organic wines. For diners who do not drink wine, sommeliers are also knowledgeable in beers, ales, ciders, and cigars and can be consulted for these matters as well. Sommeliers are an integral part of a fine dining establishment to ensure that customers are enjoying not just a meal, but a full eating experience.
- Food photographer. Food photography is much more intensive than just snapping a picture of a plate of spaghetti. Food photographers work closely with a team of dressers and lighting technicians to capture the best (or worst, depending on the photograph’s intended use) aspects of a food item. Everything from the plate that the food sits on to the table top décor surrounding it is considered. The food is meticulously nudged, adjusted, and even dyed in some instances to make it look as presentable as possible. For example, if a food photographer is shooting a bowl of ice cream for an advertisement, the ice cream may be scooped over and over again until it forms just the right shape that the photographer desires. Food photographers can even travel to take their photographs, bringing along their equipment and several props. This is often the case for food photographers who work with publications. Their pictures can be used in magazines, books, advertisements, and many other media.
- Maitre d’. In fine dining, it is not only the wait staff and the kitchen staff who keep customers happy. The maitre d’, which is an abbreviation of the French term maitre d’hotel or "master of the hotel," is an important part of every fine dining establishment. They serve as floor managers, ensuring that every diner is satisfied and that all of the food being served meets or exceeds the establishment’s expectations. They also facilitate communication between the dining room and the kitchen as well as handle customer complaints. Some may also offer tableside services like putting the finishing touches on a dish, such as torching a crème brulee so that the diner may enjoy a fresh, crisp sugar shell. The maitre d’ also works to seat diners coming into the restaurant as well as organize the reservations an establishment may receive. All in all, the maitre d’s efforts keeps the restaurant running efficiently.
The next time you are considering joining the food industry, but do not want to go to culinary school, consider the four above-mentioned careers. You can find out more information about these jobs and more from resources like the International Association of Culinary Professionals.
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