FOOD JOBS Workshop: Part Two

Decisions, Decisions… You’d think, it would be relatively easy to decide what to do next. The fortunate few do indeed know exactly what they what they want to do. The rest of us must wrestle with uncertainty and anxiety or as the Cheshire Cat said to Alice in Wonderland, “If you don’t know where you want to go, any road will take you there.”

We all face the puzzle of what to do next: there are far too many choices. For example, if  you decide to write a book with the title, The Chicken Dishes of the World, you’ll drown. You will never be able to make even the smallest dent in so large a topic. It would be far easier to narrow the field and concentrate on the Chicken Dishes of Chicago.

I’m going to suggest two diametrically opposite ways to starting a job search. The first is to take your time and use a telescope to explore all the possibilities and all the possibilities within the possibilities. Only then will you be able to employ a microscope, (the opposite way), to refine your options.

You could decide to become a tea taster or a coffee taster or an ice cream taster or an account executive promoting beef or pork or peaches or pears or another commodity. You could become a personal chef.

Personal chefs are a rapidly-expanding segment of the food world. This is a food job that enables you to become an entrepreneur without investing any capital. If you are a good cook, you don’t even need to have a formal degree from a culinary school. Did you know that the U.S. Postal Service once employed a personal chef to provide meals for the cycling team it sponsored?

You could also think about becoming a private chef for a movie star, a sports hero or a television anchor.

A private chef is not the same thing as a personal chef.

A chef can earn $80,000 a year— tax free—working on a luxury yacht, cruising the Greek Islands. The perks here are: there is no rent to pay, no car payments to make and there are plenty of people to sleep with every night.

Recipe developers working for NASA come up with ideas for dinner for astronauts. They can also find employment with food companies and restaurant chains and supermarkets. Recipe testers check the accuracy of recipes for magazines, cookbook authors and food  processors.

Recipe developers are not the same thing as recipe testers.

As you see each different career category contains its own specialized branch and we’ll explore each area as we go along with later posts.

A food lover with a vibrant palate and the ability to write well but with no formal culinary degree may find happiness as a restaurant critic or restaurant memoirist.

Perhaps, you could consider a career as: a literary agent; a cheese shop owner; a food and travel writer; an artisanal bread baker; a wedding cake designer; a food photographer; a bed & breakfast owner; a food entrepreneur or investor or a teacher. There are more jobs opportunities to explore than you may have imagined.

Donald Rumsfeld

As former Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, famously observed: “There are known knowns: these are things we know we know. There are known unknowns: these are things we know we don’t know. There are unknown unknowns: there are things we don’t know we don’t know.”

Whether you are interested in science or supermarkets, in engineering or accounting, human relations or writing, in traveling or staying at home, there is a job in the food field for you. Better yet, you can dream up something that had never been done before and make it happen.

After all, the food world involves history and geography, science and technology,  economics and finance, art and design, marketing and publicity and literally dozens of other disciplines. Your task is to decide which path to take.

Christopher Robin & Winnie the Pooh

I came across a lovely quote from Christopher Robin to Winnie the Pooh. He said, “Promise me you’ll always remember you are braver than you believe and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.”

And do you remember Dr. Benjamin Spock, who comforted generations of anxious mothers by saying, “You know more than you think you do.”

You can start your journey to find a new career by imagining you are Santa Claus. Make a list of all your qualifications. What have you done so far? Where have you been. What have you learned? Who do you know? The last thing on this list may be the most important.

Fill several sacks with all this information and pile them on the sled. Rewrite your resume. Compose a cover letter. Have a new photograph taken. Put on your Santa’s suit frame of mind. Climb aboard the driver’s seat and take the reins of the reindeer. They will run neck and neck with one animal getting his nose ahead with a surge of hope, and the other falling a little behind as his stomach churns with fear. Whichever gains the ascendancy will determine the road you take.

As Suze Ormand tells us: “You Own the Power to Control Your Own Destiny.”

Now I have two more pieces of advice. One is illegitimi non carborundum, which freely translated means, “Don’t let the bastards get you down.”

I’ll share the other piece of advice next Monday so I hope to bring it with you then. In the meantime, I’ll continue the food writing posts every Wednesday.