When I ask my culinary and pastry arts students what they would like to do, the most popular answer is: travel — preferably to Italy. (I wonder if this is because they have grown up with families who love to eat.)
I suggest instead that they explore NASFT, the National Association for the Specialty Food Trade. It is an association of independent, innovative businesses committed to bringing great new foods to market; a diverse community of passionate and creative entrepreneurs, who fuel the innovation and authenticity found in food today.
Since 1954, NASFT has sponsored trade shows like the Fancy Food Show, the premier marketplace for reaching the specialty food trade. These shows attract from 19,000 to 32,000 attendees, who are owners of specialty food stores, and those working in wine, gift and departments stores; supermarket purchasing personnel; restaurant people; mail-order food and cookware, and other related businesses.
The expected 24,000 attendees of the upcoming New York Fancy Food Show (June 27-29) will come to buy from 180,000 products including: confections, cheese, coffee, snacks, spices, ethnic, natural, organic and more from 2,500 exhibitors representing 81 countries.
Many forget that the FMI Show, All Things Organic, United Produce Expo and Conference and U.S. Food Export Showcase joined the Fancy Food Show to make it five shows in one.
Many of the exhibitors are entrepreneurs who created their own recipes and started their own companies–after going culinary school or on a hunch.
Within this vast sector are many opportunities to network, to job connect, to find work with importers and exporters, buyers and sellers.
NASFT also is an organization that tries to nurture and support small and emerging food businesses by providing educational forums, business builder 1 to 1 networking opportunities, even the Sofi awards, which as one judge pointed out, are: “A great way to see what’s next.”
I say to my students, “check the website to find job listings.” Every new product needs help getting to market, from the start in the kitchen to the finish line presentation. Better yet, I tell the students to simply go experience this incredible marketplace of sights and smells, and get inspired.
Next Monday I’ll write about opportunities in eco- and culinary tourism. In coming weeks, I’ll suggest finding employment as a chef in a U.S. embassy or consulate, as a teacher in a culinary schools in another country or as a food travel writer.
There is always a FOOD JOB to explore.