What should I charge as a recipe tester?

Joined Sep 5, 2016
I got my first gig as a professional chef, that means I can post in this forum. Yay for small victories. /img/vbsmilies/smilies/bounce.gif

Anyhow, it's a small job for a very small kitchen, the owner took a gamble on me after I told him I was an avid home baker and I love to try/tweak recipes. He told me to keep track of my hours and expenses. But I don't think he thought that through. It took me at least 40 hours to perfect my pie recipe, I'm sure it's going to be the same here. That's $400 for a single recipe, not including the expenses. Imo, that's too much.

So my question is: what is the standard wage for a recipe tester? Is it a flat rate? Do I charge for ingredients? What about the time to get ingredients? And if it's a standard recipe, nothing unusual or fancy, should I charge less?

Thanks in advance for reading!
Joined Mar 1, 2017
Hi Smokeydoke.

From a practical point of view, it seems to me that the two of you should've had a discussion about compensation before you started.  Knowing what their budget is gives you some sense of what you can and cannot do etc.  Part of that discussion should include the cost of groceries, the value of your time i.e. hourly, by the recipe, flat fee, salary etc.  Once you two have reached that agreement, then, you will have an easier time of it. 

I would suggest that you go back and discuss these issues in detail and perhaps, gather something in writing.  It doesn't have to be some formal legal contract.  But, there should be something in writing that outlines the details.  

I hope this helps.  Good luck!  :)
Joined Sep 5, 2016
Thanks. Will do.

I'm doing some light prep work for him on the side, so I guess I'm an employee, although it doesn't feel like it. I think he wants me to bring in the ingredients to his kitchen and do it during in-between time and he'll pay for ingredients. Not exactly a great-paying gig, but I'm happy to help him out and I'm having a blast working in a commercial kitchen on my own.

I read an article that recipe testers get around $20/hr and one recipe takes around 8 hours, but there's no way that's going to happen here with my lack of expertise.

If he loves the final product, I might negotiate with him to pay me, a flat fee, for variations on the dish. That way I won't log as many hours and I can still keep cooking and he'll have more product to sell.

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