Despite the fact that I’m a bit of a misanthrope, my cranky disposition doesn’t prevent me from being contacted frequently by people who want to ask me about how to get involved in the food business. Most of these people have little interest in becoming a chef or working in a restaurant and wonder how one can become a food stylist, a cookbook author or a restaurant reviewer.
My own academic advisers woefully let me down in this department. In high school when I told my guidance counselor that I wanted to go to chef school he simply told me I was too smart to go to college (in those days colleges in Ontario were geared for people who couldn’t cope in the academic stream of University). He didn’t mention that I could channel my interest in food into a career as a Home Economist or a dietitian or that there were excellent university level chef programs offered in the United States. As far as he was concerned, I just needed to change my focus to something more appropriate. So, I did.
After getting a B.A.H in English Lit, I eventually did follow my dreams and go to chef school; however, the program was so narrowly focused that I graduated not knowing what a food stylist was. Once again I’d been given only partial insight into my career options.
Needless to say, as I met people with exciting and diverse jobs in the food industry, I realized how poorly informed my advisers had been and made a vow to try to help other people make more informed career choices if I could.
After repeating my career story and the lessons it holds to many people over the last decade and a half, I was thrilled to see Irena Chalmer’s new book, Food Jobs, arrive in the post the other day. While certainly not exhaustive, this book does showcase 150 jobs that people interested in culinary arts careers can consider. Likewise, Irena does a good job of providing info for next steps so that if you find one of the jobs she describes intriguing you can learn about how to get the appropriate training.
I have a copy of Food Jobs on my desk and will recommend it to people who come to me for career advice. I considered sending a copy to my old guidance counselor but I have a feeling he’s likely (and hopefully!) retired.