Do you dream of driving a race car capable of going from 0 to 100 mph and back to 0 in less than five seconds? Do you have a vision of yourself daring to sail through the air on a highflying trapeze? Do you fantasize about becoming a skydiver or fighting a forest fire?
You can consider a career in a test kitchen because you will need the same skills: you must be analytic, accurate, flexible, efficient and punctual along with the discipline to follow directions and work with members of a team.
At an IACP conference, Anne Cain MS, MPH, RD described an essential first step to becoming a professional recipe tester. “Be clear on what the editor/client expects. This will not only clarify the demands of the editor/client but enable the recipe developer to schedule accordingly.”
Here is a list of other essentials to be ironed out before, not after, work begins:
- Create a written contract in which you make sure the cost of ingredients is included. Insert a clause clearly anticipating there may be repeated efforts before arriving at a final version of the recipe that is ready for publication
- Establish deadlines but build in flexibility for inevitable delays
- Identify the target reader for the recipe
- Maintain a chronological “work in progress” journal along with your detailed comments
- Keep a paper trail of the cost of groceries, car mileage, time spent on meetings and any other costs incurred. (These will be useful for tax purposes.)
Where are the Clients?
Virtually every commodity has a test kitchen that provides recipes for consumers. The Blueberry Council, Pork Council, Rice Council, Vidalia Onions, The Grape Council all produce recipes for publication in newspapers, for magazines and for blogs.
All the major food-processing companies have test kitchens that employ a few or many recipe testers.
Many magazines, in addition to the food magazines, make sure their published recipes are accurate. Some employ freelance testers.
Cookbook publishers may engage recipe testers as do chefs and even so-called food writers whose primary task involves story telling, need capable help when recipes are added to the narrative.
The entry level salary for a recipe tester is $27,000 though fees will vary greatly depending on the employer, location, industry, experience and benefits.
Does this sound like something you can handle?