Food Job: TV Star

Today, one hundred million households can tune into the Food Network. There are stations in New York, Atlanta, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Detroit, and Knoxville. There are viewers in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Korea, Thailand, Singapore, Philippines, Monaco, Polynesia, and Great Britain. More people watch the Food Network than CNN. It no longer aims to teach cooking techniques or kitchen skills. Instead, it has lurched into the production of cooking shows featuring the assembly of store-bought components, and of cooking-competition shows that choose winners and losers. It also has an unfathomable addiction to cup cakes.

What is turning this huge audience on to all of it’s culinary idols, as featured on the Food Network though my impression is that Guy Fieri takes up 23 of the 24 hours a day. (Maybe many people like him?) Vast swaths of people appear to have the time to watch others cook and eat, and exclaim how good it all smells—but to have no time to cook for themselves.

Everything smells fabulous on the television screen. This phenomenon is frequently noted by Ina Garten, the “Barefoot Contessa,” who cooks for her well-heeled pals and punctuates every divine, “how easy is that?” moment with mirthless laughter. “Smells great” and the words “quick” and “easy” are well-known to the perpetually smiling and cleavage-revealing Giada and the lovely folk who come and go promising dinners that cost mere pennies and are quick and easy…and Oh Yes! Smells Great!!!

 

Breaking into the Food Media

The Emmy-nominated food-show producer and director Irene Wong offers some sound advice:

“If you want to be in front of the camera, my advice is to watch a lot of food programs. Get an idea of why each show works. Why is Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives among the most popular shows on the Food Network? Why is Rachael Ray so appealing? They’re giving the audience something they want. Figure out how you are going to deliver what you want to say about food, but also what the audience wants to hear. Find out what your food identity is, what your food voice is. Your brand. Make it stand out from everyone else. If you’re the only person who can deliver your brand, that will make you more attractive to television executives, because you will be irreplaceable.”

It also helps a lot to take a media training course.  Performing in front of a camera is a lot harder than it looks.

 

Food Job: Lobbyist

A lobbyist is someone who advocates for someone or an organization and gets paid for influencing legislation.  Every year, $9 billion is spent on lobbying.  It is the 3rd largest budget after government agencies and the food and tourist industries.

The Restaurant Association is just one among literally hundreds of special-interest advocates operating in Washington, D.C. These include lobbyists for agricultural and fishery industries, food processors, and every other corner of the big business of food. The American League of Lobbyists says: “We want people, young people, to enter government affairs and to be part of the great American political process.”

To be a great lobbyist you must be (or convincingly appear to be) passionate and knowledgeable about the cause you are advocating. Your rolodex and personal network are your most valuable possessions, second only to grease. Greased wheels lead to access to power. 43% of former congressmen have worked or are working as lobbyist.

To get a job as a lobbyist, try volunteering for a cause…you never know where it may lead.


Food Job: Food Truck Owner

Chef movieKeep on trucking has acquired entirely a new meaning these days.

Rice pudding, exotic ice cream, cupcakes, flavored popcorn, french fries, and Korean tacos are just a few among the dozens of street foods on the menus of flourishing food trucks now offering ‘meals on wheels’.

Today, there are regional food truck festivals, food truck awards, even a Chef movie worthy of a truck stop.

A proprietor of a small operation in a busy location can make a fortune providing healthy, hearty, home-made, hand-held sandwiches, comfort food, crepes, lobster rolls, hot soup, or bowls of noodles with which to entice the lunch crowds.

Fido To Go food truck

Fido To Go food truck

An enterprising food trucker named his vehicle K9 while another called her’s Fido To Go. Both cater to dogs. While K9 is known for crushing dog biscuits into what is essentially a canine ice cream cone and tops it with a chili burger, Fido to Go offers premier gourmutt hand-crafted, gluten and allergen-free canine cookies and doggy ice creams/frozen yogurts. There’s no telling who loved the idea more, the dog or its owner. Continue reading

Food Job: Consumer Advocate

bfrankWe are undergoing a massive change in how we think about our food and in the ways we buy, cook, and eat it.

Our opinions are influenced by activists protesting the pollution of the earth’s soil, air, and water, the inhumane treatment of animals, and the presence of hormones, additives, and preservatives. Some of these concerns are amply justified; others have little or no basis in reality.

Our judgments are also molded—far more than we may be prepared to admit—by skillful advertising and by journalists and consumer advocates with axes to grind. As a consumer advocate, you will need to know how to make your words persuade, charm, inform, and inspire action.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) is among the leading food consumer advocates. Its accomplishments include leading the efforts to win passage of laws that require ‘Nutrition Facts’ on packaged foods (and, later, to include trans fat on those labels), define the term “organic” for foods, and put warning notices on alcoholic beverages. The organization attracts considerable media attention. Check its website for job opportunities.

Do a Google search of ‘Consumer Food Advocates’ to find other sites such as Food & Water Watch. The information from this group tells us that it is: “A leading national consumer advocacy organization that runs dynamic, cutting edge campaigns challenging the corporate control and abuse of our food and water resources. Since 2005, we have won significant victories to protect our food and water. Our work has been featured in the New York Times, the Washington Post and other major media outlets. As a growing organization, we have a number of opportunities for talented organizers, advocates, researchers, and policy experts.” Intern opportunities are available.

Contact the sites that interest you and see what sort of qualifications are required. Check the salary range too.

By the way, did you know the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) is a free government site that lists average salaries for food jobs throughout the U.S? For example, you will obviously earn more working in a fine dining restaurant in midtown Manhattan than in rural Mississippi even if you are making pancakes and sausages for brunch in both places.

No one ever said life is fair.

 

How to Be a Personal Chef

personal-chef-in-kitchen-vertThe role of personal chef was virtually unknown a few years ago. Today more than 7,000 are registered as active members of the American Personal Chef Association. Industry leaders estimate this number will swell to more than 25,000 within the next 10 years. They will be serving nearly 300,000 clients and contributing nearly $1.2 billion to the U.S. economy.

A personal chef plans menus, shops for food, and cooks it in a client’s home. He may pack it in neatly labeled containers with heating directions, store it in the refrigerator or freezer and, then leave the kitchen in pristine condition. He or she customarily is employed by several clients. Continue reading

Radio Host Food Job

Being the host of a food-focused radio show must surely be among the most desirable of careers for anyone knowledgeable about food. If you would love to have your own radio program, this is how to get started.
Address a proposal to the radio-station manager in which you describe your idea in one short paragraph. For inspiration consider Food and Drink Magazine, a lively weekly radio program that celebrates the joys of food and drink. Late-breaking culinary news is heard there first, along with interviews and fascinating reports on the American food chain—the voyage of food from farm, to store, to skillet, to the plate.
Bullet points are always good to use in proposals. Using Food and Drink Magazine again as an example, if you were pitching that show, you might characterize it in the following manner:
• Food and Drink Magazine is modeled on the ideal buffet reception. It is a fast-paced buffet party where the talk is fascinating, the food is fabulous, and the punch carries a terrific wallop.
• The best-known and least-known small-scale food artisans, wine and beer makers, and connoisseurs are invited to present their opinions through tightly focused interviews and personal commentary.
• Listeners will meet cookbook authors, food-business entrepreneurs, chefs, restaurateurs, food-truck owners, farmers, physicians, nutritionists, food-safety regulators, beekeepers, bread bakers, and critics.
• On the menu, too, are those responsible for feeding school children, hospital patients, the military, astronauts, and those working in the kitchens of federal prisons, museums, zoos, and as the caterers of grand parties.
• When our guests can’t come to talk to us, we will go to them, even if the journey takes us to the galley of the Queen Mary 2 or to the White House.
• The subject matter of Food and Drink Magazine is the stuff of life. Food fads will be explored; food trends will be tracked. There will be reports on the latest supermarket innovations, on new apps and restaurant openings.
• The show will serve an audience hungry for information about food and the food market: what is in season—what is available at which supermarket, specialty food-store, or mail-order catalog?
• Listeners will learn about the latest scientific findings concerning nutrition and agriculture.

Suggested show format, with additional time to be allotted for commercial messages:
1. Message from the host/teasers/food news 4:00
2. Interview/produced story (major topic of the week) 3:30
3. Quiz question 0:20
4. Interview/commentary/produced story 2:00
5. New product review 2:00
6. Cookbook review 2:30
7. Person-of-the-week profile 2:00
8. Wine/beer segment 2:30
9. Supermarket news 2:00
10. The fresh report 2:30
11. Interview with person of the week 4:00
12. Listener mail with responses from an expert 2:00
13. Nutrition news 2:00
14. Closing commentary 1:30

You will be taken seriously if you provide this kind of detailed proposal. Remember as well, that some universities have their own radio stations. This may offer an opening for you too.