How I Turned My Passion for Food Into a Career: 5 Pros Share Their Stories
Everyone likes food. (At least, we haven't met anyone who hasn't!)
But there are some people who really love food—whose days are spent creating and testing recipes, visiting five-star restaurants, reading about new culinary methods, and devouring everything gourmet that they possibly can.
And if that's you, we're willing to bet you'd love to incorporate food into your career. But does that mean you need to work as a line cook or attend culinary school ? Not necessarily! We sat down with five professionals who have discovered a way to turn their passion for food into a career—in some roles that you might not expect.
If you're a foodie at heart, read on to learn about some of the more unconventional options you have—and what kind of experience and background you need to get there.
Head of Communication, Harmless Harvest
After earning a degree in psychology, Jenna Volcheff switched gears and headed to pastry school at the Culinary Institute of America. After that, it was all about food: "I was in restaurants and cooking and making cakes, and things like that," she shares. But despite that formal food training, she wanted to get out of the kitchen.
"I still wanted to have my hands in something having to do with food,” Volcheff recalls, “and that's when I saw a post for Harmless Harvest." After a three-month internship there, she slowly took over the company's social media and customer service, which led to her current position as head of communication. Now, instead of slaving over a stove, she composes social media posts, interacts with customers, and plans initiatives and events for the company.
Retail Sales and Production Manager, Sir Kensington's
Zack Gazzaniga's food career didn't necessarily start with a passion for cooking or food in general—but instead, he was first attracted to the business side of things. His first foray into the food industry was an internship with a granola company, and he found his way onto the Sir Kensington's team soon after.
In his dual role overseeing retail sales and production, Gazzaniga both makes the ketchup and gets it to the stores that sell it. And that's where his passion really shines: From developing promos for retail to "putting out fires" on the production line, he truly sees the value in every phase of the product. "I like to think of every single jar on the shelf as a little miracle."
Vendor Outreach, ZeroCater
Julia Pivnick didn't necessarily have an ideal career in mind while she was growing up, but the one thing she did know was that she really liked food—especially food from the Bay Area. And when she moved to DC to study finance and international business, she missed her childhood food scene much more than she'd anticipated. So, she started volunteering at local farmers' markets and eventually narrowed down her job search to something that involved both food and tech.
Enter: ZeroCater. She first saw the job listing on The Muse, immediately knew it would be a great fit, and landed her ultimate food-meets-tech gig. In her role as vendor outreach, Pivnick is in charge of finding, trying out, and recruiting new vendors.
Senior Food Editor, Tasting Table
Tired of her college diet of refried beans and nachos, Raquel Pelzel was determined to learn how to cook for herself—so, she attended a vegetarian cooking school in Colorado. Then, after a few years of writing for various publications, she headed to culinary school to study pastry. "After that, I kind of put my love of writing together with my love of food," she shares, "and got a job at Cooks Illustrated ."
Fast forward to today, and she's mastered the art of recipe-writing, written more than a dozen cookbooks, and collaborated with all sorts of chefs—so when this position at Tasting Table become available, she knew she was a great fit. "I felt like I could put my food knowledge to great use," she recalls. And she has—by testing and developing all of the company's recipes.
Accounts Manager, Sir Kensington's
When it comes to food, Lindsay Martinez doesn't just like it for the taste—she's intrigued by it in the scientific sense; specifically, how it affects people's health. In fact, she wrote her graduate thesis on how food markets relate to diabetes. With that kind of knowledge and awareness, she wanted to work for a company whose product she could really stand behind.
And Sir Kensington's all-natural ketchup fits the bill. "I really love the product," she shares. (And according to her, the people, office, and culture aren't bad either!) In her role as accounts manager, Martinez stays in contact with all of the company's distribution partners, making sure stores are stocked and customers are happy.
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