Chef jobs outside of the kitchen

Chef Jobs Outside of the Kitchen

Editor’s note: Chef Jobs Outside of the Kitchen was originally published in December 2020 and most recently updated in May 2022.

The impact of Covid-19 on the hospitality industry has been immense. Changes to the sector have been rapid and frequent throughout the course of the pandemic.

How thousands of hospitality businesses have continued to rise to the challenge of Covid is testament to the solutions mentality of the sector. Sincere respect and admiration to all of you battling through.

But as we’re all aware, many chefs haven’t made it through and have lost their jobs as a result of Covid. For many it’s been a similar case of applying solutions thinking to the situation, where can I use my chef skills outside of the restaurant kitchen? Let’s consider.

A different type of chef job post Covid

In times past working with food typically meant becoming a restaurant chef. Today there are many food focused paths you can pursue. Some of these options may take longer than others to re-emerge from the fallout of Covid-19 than others. But they’re all potentially new avenues you can pursue with a chef background.

Chef jobs outside of the kitchen – become a personal or private chef

Personal chefs work for multiple clients, preparing meals in private homes or delivering pre-made meals to clients.

Choosing to become a personal chef affords you a fair amount of flexibility in terms of the number of clients you take on. It can also dovetail with finding other part-time work as part of a portfolio career. It’s not uncommon for personal chefs to find related part-time work teaching cooking classes or working freelance as a food stylist or recipe tester.

Personal chefs typically find their work through word of mouth referrals.

Private chefs typically work for one client or family, and the range of work might include such responsibilities as cooking for parties/entertaining or for family members with specific dietary restrictions.

As a private chef your schedule is typically less flexible, but may involve perks such as seasonal travel with clients. Jobs are typically found through private household staffing agencies.

Read: Private chef verus Personal Chef
Read: Working as a Superyacht chef

Become a private caterer

The cost of making the pivot to private caterer is significantly less than becoming Chef Patron. So this is a popular choice amongst entrepreneurial chefs looking to make their own mark in business.

Caterers typically work out of an owned or rented industrial kitchen space and deliver orders to clients directly. Hours can vary greatly depending on season and demand. But those that foster a reputation for innovative, bespoke dining experiences that surpass client expectations can demand premium prices for their services.

Chef jobs outside of the kitchen – event management

If you enjoy working with food, party planning and delivery, a career in event management could be a logical next step. Your food and beverage knowledge will obviously be important to event success.

Those embarking on this career path would naturally enjoy paying close attention to detail and thrive on delivering an event plan. Typically, these types of roles can be found in hotels, resorts, museums, universities and restaurant groups.

Deliver corporate or institutional dining menus

Corporate dining covers everything from a company’s employee cafeteria to a private executive dining room. Corporations like Google have proven that in-house dining for staff and guests doesn’t need to be bland and boring, far from it. Institutional dining refers to places like hospitals, universities and schools where the goal is to deliver tasty and nutritional food for the masses.

Chefs enjoy the stable hours and many weekends off that this type of chef work often provides, so it’s a great pivot for those starting or raising family.

Chef jobs outside of the kitchen – get into teaching

It is essential that you’re professionally trained and have kitchen experience if you want to work in a private cookery school, college or university. Most – if not all – will only employ teachers who have trained and spent timing working at senior levels in commercial kitchens. Especially in teaching environments where recognised industry qualifications are being offered.

Research, development and test kitchens

From concept to execution, research and development chefs ideate, create and develop food product lines with a view to bringing them to market. All packaged food products we purchase in supermarkets are designed, created and tested in research kitchens.

In addition, some ingredient producers and distributors employ test kitchen chefs to help them find new applications and usage concepts for their products.

Compass Chef Recruitment

Chef jobs outside of the kitchen – speciality food retailing

If you have a keen curiosity for discovering and surveying the quality of ingredients and producers, you might want to consider a pivot to speciality food retailing – butcher, baker, cheesemonger even.

While opening a small business is one way to find work, you can also be hired by larger companies to help them source, buy and merchandise culinary products.

Product sourcing and purchasing

Think you’d be a budget whizz, an inventory hawk and a keen negotiator in business? Perhaps a pivot to the purchasing department is a logical next step for you. This department is typically found in higher volume operations, such as hotels, full-service catering companies and larger or multi-unit restaurant settings.

The purchasing department works closely with the chef and general manager to source all ingredients and supplies, negotiate good prices, maintain inventory levels and ensure that received items are accurate and of high quality. Successful purchasers count on a diverse skill set of organisational ability, accounting acumen and excellent product knowledge in the areas in which they are purchasing.

Chef jobs outside of the kitchen – Food Stylist

In the food media world, magazines and TV shows have test kitchen staff to help develop their editorial content for print or to be shown on screen. After preparing the food, they “stage and style” it to get it ready to be on screen.

In this line of work attention to detail is paramount. It’s also important to have the patience to dress and set the stage in a way that best shows off the food.

Many food stylists work independently for photographers, bringing to life the vision of a cookbook writer or advertiser. They may also work in television or for other visual media outlets.

Food photography and styling are in high demand, as the market for visual food content has grown with the popularity of such sites as Instagram and Pinterest. Typically, internships or apprenticeships with seasoned food stylists are the best way to begin a career in this creative sector.

Read: Food Photography Tips for Chefs

Food Writer

Perhaps you’ve been blogging alongside the day job or have always enjoyed writing about food as much as cooking it. If you’d like to pivot to writing about food, there’s many different ways you could be employed to do that.

Many professional food writers also find the opportunity to teach classes, write or ghost-write cookbooks, or even work in television or online food content channels.

There is no one stereotypical career path, but getting your “foot in the door” through internships or networking is the primary way in which to find opportunities in food media.

Read: Get a Chef Blog to Land That Next Job

Chef jobs outside of the kitchen – Book author

Writing and getting your own cookbook published is a lofty goal, but it’s by no means impossible. In today’s world, digital technology makes it easier to publish books. Lower press runs make the proposition cheaper for first time authors looking to build their devoted reader following!

Sales

Landing a commercial sales role and selling to the catering trade is so much easier if you’re familiar with the industry, as you would be as a qualified chef! You will talk the language and be quick to spot the features and the benefits of what you’re selling. So if you’re someone who likes selling, meeting new people and is happy to travel this could be a credible next step for you.

Chef jobs outside of the kitchen – Marketing and PR

Every culinary enterprise is a business that needs and wants customers, so there are many ways a person with both marketing and culinary knowledge can combine that experience for an exciting career. The same applies should you have PR and culinary knowledge.

Once a chef or restaurant group gets to a certain scale (or fame), they are more likely to have marketing and public relations staff in-house vs. using an external agency. Besides restaurants, companies from supermarket to wine and beverage producers also need culinary savvy, marketing and PR staff.

Food policy, non-profit and association work

Positions in food policy and non-profit work are important aspects of the industry as they provide valuable educational services and help to produce and provide access to better food for all.

If you’re looking for a career that will combine your love of food with your interests in making the world a better place, there are a multitude of paths you might take.

Local food banks and other non-profits tackle issues of hunger relief and healthful food access for the needy, while other organisations may focus on children’s school food policy or advocacy for small food businesses.

Whatever comes next, we wish you all the best chef.

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