What’s in a day?
If the crazy hours of being a restaurant chef aren’t really your bag, this could be a good move. As product development chef, you’d escape the heat of a restaurant kitchen for the more measured, but competitive world of big business.
Most likely you’ll be employed by a national manufacturing, contract catering or food processing company to create new dishes or food products for supermarkets, restaurants or branded outlets. And you’ll probably find yourself working in a shiny, high spec, fully equipped development kitchen alongside food technicians and process technologists.
- Creating new ready meals, menu ideas and food products
- Responding to the findings of sensory and taste panels
- Working with food technicians
- Staying ahead of consumer taste trends
What sort of hours will I work?
You’ll work regular hours compared with the colleagues you leave behind in a restaurant or hotel kitchen – and most weekends and evenings will be free, too.
What’s the best bit about being a product development chef?
You’ll get to work for a blue chip employer with all the benefits and career support that go with it. Plus, you’ll enjoy the satisfaction of seeing your dishes and products on supermarket shelves or in freezers throughout the country.
And the worst?
There’s more to it than just being able to cook, so make sure you’re experienced enough to learn fast when it comes to matching recipes to factory processes.
What skills do I need?
- Experience with high quality cuisine (employers often look for chefs from rosette or Michelin standard restaurants)
- Creative and innovative thinking
- Commercial acumen
- An understanding of ingredients and nutrition
- An ability to grasp sterilisation and preservation processes
- The skills to develop recipes using factory processes
- A handle on consumer trends
- Computer literacy
What qualifications do I need?
Depending on the job, any of the following will be an advantage:
- An HND or degree in food product management, food technology or a related subject
- City & Guilds 706 (Parts 1 and 2), or the NVQ equivalent qualification, alongside a certificate in food hygiene
- Any qualifications gained from your background as a chef
Who would it suit?
This job is not for dullards. To be a successful product development chef, you’ll be a passionate foodie who enjoys cooking on the creative edge. So, you’re going to be bursting with ideas for new ready meals, sauces and foods, and full of enthusiasm and culinary expertise to convince those around you that each product is the next big thing.
What sort of salary can I expect?
Not many jobs are advertised for less than £25,000 a year and some posts command £45,000 – plus benefits, such as healthcare and pensions.
Where can I go from here?
Your experience should stand you in good stead to become a development chef consultant or a food development manager.
Look for product development chef jobs
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