Most of us know that there’s more to the food industry than just cooking. But Irena Chalmers sought to prove it in her latest book, Food Jobs: 150 Great Jobs for Culinary Students, Career Changers, and Food Lovers
. The arrival of this book couldn’t have been more timely, considering the profusion of food related jobs these days—stylists, coffee tasters, ice cream namers, and culinary librarians. These jobs might seem disappointingly scarce, but Chalmers shows that a little creative thought will expose infinite possibilities.
Don’t be put off by the book’s cover, a magnified place setting might suggest a litany of food service jobs. Her charming prose beautifully paints the lives of food professionals. The interviews, fact bits, suggested reading, relevant organizations and their websites for contact information, help make these jobs a reality, encouraging readers to follow through.
Chalmers considers herself a mentor/teacher/author, but to those she’s worked with she’s also an editor/publisher/restaurant consultant. A veteran of the culinary world, she’s reached out to all the right people in writing this book: there’s even a quote from GigaChef’s very own—Edward Leonard, “The key is to get into the right kitchen from the start…” (p 16). You’ll sense her honesty, in a dry-witted British humor type of way. And she’ll make you read with caution, since her optimism is often checked by her pragmatic questions,
“Do you like working alone, in your pajamas…You can become an impoverished food writer.”
“Do you hate the idea of working every evening and on many holidays? Then don’t get a job in a restaurant.”
For those who prefer skimming, chapters are divided by industry/area of interest—art and design, science and technology, farming, retail jobs, and history and culture—woven together by a series of first-person accounts of the career paths from some of today’s successful industry professionals including personal chef Candy Wallace, restaurateur Sirio Maccioni, food editor Pam Parseghian, and writer Betty Fussell. Even her students, with whom she happily spends much of her time as a career coach, have a voice in the book.
Food Jobs signifies the diversifying state of food careers. And it’s a testament to the continued growth of the industry as well as a sign of hope in this tight economy. But this book was never intended to be the end-all resource for food jobs. Chalmers hopes to inspire creativity in job finding, and she emphasizes that traditional job hunting methods are still important. “It’s an example of how important it is to network,” she says. In fact, the inclusion of interviews wouldn’t exist without her own network of friends and acquaintances. “If you don’t ask for it, nobody will give it to you.”