What is a Research Chef?
A research chef is someone who formulates and tests new products and supplies for places like hotel chains, coffee shops, restaurants, food manufacturers, and other companies associated with the food and beverage industry. They analyze and experiment with food in order to find ways to improve it and to also make consumers want to buy it. They work in a more relaxed atmosphere of a food research laboratory kitchen versus the busy atmosphere of a restaurant kitchen.
Research chefs are trained in both food science and the culinary arts, and combine their passion for food and science to create products which both taste good and will remain that way even when they are mass produced.
What does a Research Chef do?
Research chefs are responsible for creating recipes, cooking samples for testing, improving current products and giving their input to taste, texture and packaging of food products. For example, research chefs might help to develop recipes for bread, cookies, and other baked goods made with gluten-free ingredients for people who have a gluten sensitivity or celiac disease.
Research chefs observe market trends, conduct consumer testing, and either create or improve recipes. During surveys, they ask customers to rate how they like various products, such as meats, sauces, entrees, soups, and frozen goods. They record what customers prefer and make tasty and visually appealing food products based on that feedback.
Research chefs often work with food scientists to help keep the freshness, flavour, consistency, and nutritional content of packaged food products. They may also help the packaging industry to come up with materials that prevent or completely eliminate the growth of the microorganisms that can cause food-borne illnesses.
A research chef's job duties may also include:
- Studying the shelf life of various food items and ingredients
- Reading food-related magazines and industry reports to learn about current trends
- Taking measurements of ingredients being used
- Using the opinions of taste-testers to adjust recipes for a new taste group
- Taking detailed notes during the food product creation process
- Meeting with financial experts to examine a food product's potential profitability
- Meeting with market researchers to determine a food product's market appeal
What is the workplace of a Research Chef like?
Research chefs work in all sectors of the food industry, helping optimize finished products such as soups, seafood and dressings for the foodservice groups, as well as ingredient systems like sauces, spices and breading for food manufacturers to use in their finished products. Places of employment include hotel chains, coffee shop chains, restaurant chains, food and beverage manufacturers, and private research laboratories contracted by food manufacturers.
There are specific responsibilities that are part of the research chef's job, such as customer presentations, attending trade shows, trend research and creating gold standard prototypes. A typical day is a combination of developing prototypes, project meetings, production meetings, purchasing meetings, research, and looking over documentation work related to industry certifications.
Research Chefs are also known as:
Product Development Chef Food Innovation Chef Research and Development Chef