37 Out-of-the-Kitchen and Alternative Culinary Careers

The culinary career scope has changed. New jobs are popping up all the time.

This means culinary artists have many more options if they don’t wish to follow traditional culinary careers: working in a restaurant-type set-up with its conventional kitchen brigade path from commis to executive chef.

A traditional kitchen is, of course, where many chefs start their careers but may want to make a career shift for want of more regular work hours.

Suppose you are wondering what else you can do as a chef or what career change is best for a chef. In that case, this article provides a complete list of all out-of-the-kitchen and alternative, non-traditional careers and jobs in culinary to consider and research further as a transition career.

Your culinary training and experience are a solid base to pursue any of these careers and may be sufficient, but for some jobs, further training is needed, either formal or on-the-job.

Food Media Careers:

1. Food Stylist

A food stylist styles food as visually delicious yet a realistic image of the actual meal. They work in food media, styling food for photo or video shoots that promote food products, food brands, food magazines, recipe books or restaurants. Food styling and food photography go together.

2. Food Photographer

A food photographer takes high-quality pictures of food styled to capture the best shot so that the food looks beautiful but must still closely match the actual food product.  They work in media to promote food products, brands, magazines, recipe books or restaurants.

Food Writing Careers:

3. Food Writer

A food writer writes on all food topics, from food trends and traditions to food and travel, based on interest and audience. With a love for food and a solid culinary knowledge of what good food looks and tastes like, they write informative and engaging content, working as an example, a food critic.

4. Food Critic

A food critic discreetly visits a restaurant and reviews the experience in print or digital media. They check the food, its taste, look, portion size, price; service; ambience; staff attitude; contrasts to similar restaurants and dishes and rate restaurants, guiding public choice on where to eat.

5. Food Blogger

A food blogger writes on any food-related niche they have solid culinary knowledge and experience in, be it recipe development or fitness food that they share with an online audience, built over time. They regularly write new content, take photos and create videos on topics suited to their audience.

6. Cookbook Author

A cookbook author joins a love for culinary arts and writing to produce cookbooks, sharing recipes and cooking techniques with their readers. They write themselves if they have good writing skills or use ghostwriters and are often established chefs with experience, good reputations and a following.

Private Cooking Service Careers:

7. A Private Chef

A private chef, also called a personal chef, services clients wanting meals prepared for an at-home dining experience, special celebration or meal-preps. Private chefs shop for ingredients, cook in the client’s kitchen, serve the meal, and clean up so the host can attend to their guests or family.

8. Personal or Live-In Chef

A personal chef works permanently within an individual household, attending to nutritional needs and meal preparation according to what the family requires daily or for special events. They shop for ingredients, prepare meals, clean up, and may live in or out of the client’s home.

The term personal chef is also used to refer to a private chef, although their roles differ.

9. Personal Meal Planner and Shopper

A personal shopper and meal planner uses their culinary knowledge and expertise to shop and plan weekly meals for several clients in line with their health and nutritional needs. These are often wealthy families who don’t have the time or prefer someone to plan meals and shop for them.

Food Developer Careers:

10. Recipe Developer/Recipe Writer

A recipe developer creates new food products and dishes or betters existing ones per meal concept requests. For example, making a colourful vegan meal for a restaurant menu with a set number of calories

Health and Nutrition Careers:

11. Culinary Nutritionist

A culinary nutritionist combines a qualification in culinary arts and nutrition to do food product research and develop food programs with specific nutritional content and goals, like tasty, healthy meal plans for the elderly or personal meal plans to enhance athletic performance. 

12. Holistic Health Coach

A holistic health coach is passionate about health, wellness, nutrition and people, guiding them to reach their personal goals and make needed lifestyle changes in all life areas: nutrition, physical fitness, relationships, spirituality, stress and work-life balance, all toward holistic well-being.

Food Teaching Careers:

13. Online Culinary Instructor

Rather than teach face-to-face, an online culinary instructor blends a passion for food and teaching to create online culinary courses for chefs or lay people to improve their culinary skills. Anything from knife skills to food gastronomy is taught, and classes are launched on platforms like Udemy.

14. Culinary Coach

As the word coach implies, a culinary coach instructs and trains in the art of culinary to help anyone improve their culinary skills, be it for home cooking or becoming a Michelin star chef. They teach face-to-face in their own or the client’s kitchen and can do virtual real-time instruction.

15. Culinary School Instructor

Combining a love for cooking and teaching, a culinary school instructor works in a culinary school, where they do face-to-face classes and supervise lab kitchens, imparting their culinary skills, knowledge and industry experience to preparing culinary students as commis chefs for the industry.

16. Food You Tuber

A food you tuber creates online content on food-related topics for a YouTube community, teaching or sharing information on their niche topic, be it cooking tips, preparing meals or teaching knife skills. A food you tuber has to build an active following that engages with their content.

Food Representee Careers:

17. Food Influencer

A food influencer has a nano (1000) to macro (a million plus) following on social media as they create food-related content for social media platforms like Instagram and YouTube that people enjoy. They can influence people’s food decisions and are sought out by brands for brand promotion.

Anyone can become an influencer, but as a culinary professional with a passion for food and culinary knowledge and expertise, you are an authority on food and have the edge to excel as a food influencer. Having worked long hours on your feet in hot kitchens and under pressure, you are more likely to have the grit to follow through on creating quality food content that will result in a suitable following.

18. A Celebrity Food Influencer

Celebrity food influencers have an established following as they’ve built up a credible reputation from work in the entertainment industry, appearing in cooking shows, for example. With this following, it is easy to transition to creating online content and becoming a celebrity food influencer.

19. A Brand Chef, Brand Influencer or Ambassador

A brand chef is often a celebrity chef who has built an excellent personal brand and is sought out by brands to represent and promote their brand or products, be it food, kitchen equipment or other. Celebrity brand chefs also represent popular restaurants as or apart from the executive chef role.

20. A Culinary Ambassador or Diplomat

A culinary ambassador, representing their government as a culinary diplomat, shares their nation’s food and food culture with other countries to promote relations. They work within a network of chefs creating meals, abroad or locally, for foreign leaders and participating in diplomacy initiatives.

21. Restaurant Publicist

New or existing restaurants hire a restaurant publicist to promote brand visibility in social and print media by, for example, placing ads or ensuring brand presence at food festival-like events. A chef in marketing has the culinary know-how to be influential in this role.

Food Supply and Sourcing Careers:

22. Organic Urban Farmer

An urban farmer farms on a small scale with methods like aquaponics to grow small yields of organic food for health food stores or to supply restaurants with scarce in-demand products, like oyster mushrooms. Residing in cities, they are close to their client, ensuring excellent product freshness.

23. Artisan Food Producer

An artisan food producer makes food for a retail or wholesale market. Food is produced by hand using traditional methods with little to no processing and in smaller quantities using fresh, locally sourced ingredients. Examples are bread, cheeses, jams, vinegar, honey, salami and beverages.

24. Food Forager

A food forager sources edible food like mushrooms, herbs and berries, growing wild in forests, rural or urban areas. They supply restaurants and health food stores with foraged food that is rare or in demand

Restuarant Related and Consulting Careers:

25. Wine Sommelier

Wine sommeliers use their culinary and wine expertise and a refined palate for flavours to pair food and wine to enhance their taste. They work with restaurants to draw up wine lists, suggest pairings to patrons, work with vendors and train waitstaff on wines: to know, describe, store and serve.

26. Restaurant Publicist

New or existing restaurants hire a restaurant publicist to promote brand visibility in social and print media by, for example, placing ads or ensuring brand presence at food festival-like events. A chef in marketing has the culinary know-how to be influential in this role.

27. Chef Consultant

A chef consultant is an expert advisor to any food-related business: a restaurant, canteen or food supplier. Their roles vary to match client needs and can include improving operations in a restaurant or kitchen, guiding on a new product idea like a vegan menu or refining food safety and quality.

28. Restaurant Consultant

A restaurant consultant specialises in guiding clients on anything restaurant-related, from starting a restaurant to improving kitchen operations, people management, customer service or restaurant profits. They have vast knowledge and experience in culinary art and the restaurant business.

Food Health and Safety Careers:

Food health and safety careers are often in government and are critical to the food industry.

29. Food Safety Specialist

A food safety specialist is a public protector who monitors the quality and safety of food products to ensure public safety from food-related illness. They test food samples in lab-like conditions and visit food manufacturing and packaging plants to provide food health and safety rules are followed.

30. Food Safety Auditor

A food safety auditor is a food safety specialist visiting local food places like restaurants or food stores. They ensure that food safety standards about food handling and storage are adhered to and that work areas are hygienic. They write manuals and train others in food safety protocols.

Food safety specialists are also known as health inspectors.

Commercial Based Careers:

31. Food Buyer

A food buyer works with food distributors and is knowledgeable about food products and quality standards. They specialise in the sourcing and supply of niche food products for places like restaurants, caterers, and food stores, brokering mutually beneficial deals for both client and vendor.

32. Food Taster 

A professional taster is a culinary expert with a refined palate who knows food production. They work for food producers and judge the quality of food products based on their taste. They assess a food item’s flavour, aroma, colour and texture to improve or develop new food products.

Culinary Competitions:

33. Culinary Judge

A culinary judge combines their culinary expertise and experience with the necessary certification to act as an appraiser in culinary competitions where chefs display their culinary skills, from a local to an international level. The higher-end the competition is, the more rigorous the requirements to be a culinary judge.

Non-traditional kitchen careers:

34. Food Truck Owner

A food truck owner operates a mobile kitchen. They work from a limited menu because of space, serving only Indian cuisine, stir-fry, doughnuts or desserts, for example. While primarily based in one place, they move around to cater to local events like festivals, sports, or private parties.

35. A Ghost Restaurant Chef

A ghost chef works in a virtual, online restaurant where clients place orders. These are delivered by food delivery services the company links to. The kitchen for meal preparation is usually in a commercially rented space with no front dining area for customers.

36.  A Pop-up Restauranter

A pop-up restauranter sets up a temporary restaurant that can last for one night to a few months. They have a limited menu, and the purpose can be to promote themselves and their brand, test new menu items for a restaurant or test a new restaurant concept. Some pop-ups appear seasonally.

37. Event Food Caterer

A food caterer provides food service for events. They gauge the client’s menu needs and budget, buy supplies, prepare the meal, deliver it to the event location, set up food stations, serve guests and clean up.

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