Test kitchen cook- what would I need, where would I look for employment?

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Joined Apr 14, 2003
I'm very curious what would be required to become a test kitchen cook, and was wondering if anyone here knows the trade. I have no professional culinary education, which I think would be my biggest hindrance; however, I am about to receive my PhD in a molecular biology-related field, so I feel that I have developed several critical skills that would easily overlap (such as understanding how each "ingredient" affects the outcome, adapting/adjusting protocols, creating new projects, writing articles for publication). After all the time I have invested, I'm probably going to pursue a job in a biology-related field, but I can't help thinking I would 1) enjoy being a test cook, and 2) be good at it. If I were to indeed follow-up on this notion, where would I look? I'm currently in the San Francisco area, but I am looking to move to Ann Arbor, MI (my girlfriend just moved there). Thanks!
 
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Joined May 26, 2001
There is an organization for R & D chefs -- I'm not sure what it's called, but if you google on the basic elements, you'll probably find it.

Otherwise, if I were you I'd get in touch with every food manufacturer and food publication/publication that covers food within a reasonable commuting distance. There are not really a lot of test kitchens around for small outfits, but the big food corporations have them.

Just be prepared to make peanuts. (I mean, very little money :( )
 
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Joined Apr 14, 2003
Thanks again Suzanne for replying to one of my questions :) I will definately look around, if for no other reason than to see what's out there. And I don't mind working for peanuts- I've been in grad school for 7 years now, so I really don't know any other way of life ;)
 

kuan

Moderator
Staff member
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Joined Jun 11, 2001
Working in a test kitchen isn't all that glamorous. You spend your time idiot testing recipes and, more likely, trying to burn boxed brownie mix. None of these positions require the level of education you have.

Lots of food companies hire molecular biologists to do things like their hybrid programs, etc. I'm sure you know that already. You may be able to get a job there and move into product development.

On a more general note, if you found a job which you liked which would also allow you to indulge in your favorite hobby, would you want to make your hobby your job?

Kuan
 
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