Review: Food Jobs by Irena Chalmers

Food JobsIn 2003 I discovered a profession that I thought was perfect for my passions and talents, TV chef. I have spent the past half decade trying to reach this lofty, if bizarre, goal. It has been a tough road as, like I have said before, there are no vocational programs or community college courses to prepare me for it. But, finally, there is now an instruction manual.

Award-winning food writer Irena Chalmers (The Great Food Almanac – an IACP Julia Child Award winner) has published a new book that introduces and lays the groundwork for all those foodies who want to make their hobby their vocation: Food Jobs: 150 Great Jobs for Culinary Students, Career Changers and FOOD Lovers.

Chalmers’s career has been unprecedented. She is a renowned and respected food writer, editor, and publisher who has lent her talents to literally hundreds of titles, cookbooks, and guides. In addition to her work with books, she has also contributed articles to at least a dozen different magazines, including Chef magazine, where she served as the “Last Word” columnist for five years. She has also been a guest on over a hundred radio programs.

Upon receiving my copy of Food Jobs, it was hard to resist jumping past the first 136 pages to get to chapter 4, entitled “All Things Media.” Alas I was able to keep my personal ambitions at bay and for almost 15 minutes, too. The first section of chapter 4 deals with food writing. The list of food writers who have progressed from written page to small screen is impressive, like Michael Ruhlman, Jeffrey Steingarten, Anthony Bourdain, and even Chalmers herself. As the chapter unfolds you also get looks at less glamorous but possibly more rewarding food media careers like publishing, food styling and restaurant reviewing.  And there are eight more chapters!

But the real magic of Food Jobs is that I discovered a lot of jobs that I had never thought of before. Professions like culinary tour guide, olive oil tester, and even fortune cookie message writer (somebody’s got to come up with that stuff) are all discussed, as are more conventional occupations like cruise-ship chef, menu designer, or product demonstrator. Chalmers’s work is perfect for those of you contemplating a career change or are just jazzed about food in general. Don’t be surprised if Irena Chalmers is toting home more hardware after the culinary awards festivals next spring.

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Stuart is a celebrity chef, food activist and award-winning food writer. He penned the cookbooks Third Coast Cuisine: Recipes of the Gulf of Mexico, No Sides Needed: 34 Recipes To Simplify Life and Amigeauxs - Mexican/Creole Fusion Cuisine. He hosts two Internet cooking shows "Everyday Gourmet" and "Little Grill Big Flavor." His recipes have been featured in Current, Lagniappe, Southern Tailgater, The Kitchen Hotline and on the Cooking Channel.

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