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career as a culinologist / research chef

post #1 of 26
Thread Starter 

I've just joined cheftalk. I'm in Toronto, Canada. I'm very interested in cooking, but I have a scientific inclination, so I've searched around on the Internet, and found out about the profession of research chef.

I would like to ask some career related questions from a practicing research chef.

Would I find such a chef in this forum, and if so, could I ask you some of these questions?

Best regards,
post #2 of 26


Hello, I studied culinary arts at LCB in southamerica. And i'm interested more in the scientific way. I used to ask everytime why and why????? Why meat gets soft after strong and after soft?????? Why and why? and sometimes chefs couldnt answer me and I liked nutrition, too. Lately i have been interested in this cuz i see butter, heavy cream and other things like cheese is killing people indirectly. Yeah, it sounds cold and cruel,,,but fatty meat is killing people. I think we as food lovers should try to avoid this and help people eating a better and healthier food.................bla bla bla.

Probably u can read about Hervé This, and Harold McGee ! luck and a big hug!

Take care!

post #3 of 26
Welcome, laci!! Great question, but you'll probably get more answers in the Professional Chefs forum than in Cooking Questions, so I'm moving this there.

If you don't get much response there, though, have a look at the website of the Research Chefs Association.
"Notorious stickler" -- The New York Times, January 4, 2004
"Notorious stickler" -- The New York Times, January 4, 2004
post #4 of 26
Thread Starter 
Thanks, Suzanne. Unfortunately, I do not find any mention of a career related discussion forum at I'm hoping that some research chef will take pity on me here :), and give me some advice...

post #5 of 26
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the info. I found Herve This, and Harold McGee (actually reading a book by him). What field are you working in now (I mean have you been able to incorporate science into your cooking)?

post #6 of 26


Hello Laci,

I just finished to study culinary arts in southamerica last December. Now im trying to study foodscience in Spain for 5 years. I need to pass an exam in June. I would have liked NY, but it's expensive for me; I like the nutrition part and knowing characteristics of products. I dont have clear yet what I'll do,,,but i know i like food and sciences! yes i love eating and cooking! What part of the USA are u?

a big hug!

post #7 of 26
Hi, laci
I have a close personal friend who is involved in this type of work. She began her career attending CIA. She then went on to become a registered dietician. She then worked as a consultant to the Cooper Aerobic Clinic and also handled the Menu preperation and research for the Cardiac Care unit of multiple Hospitals. She also does many speaking engagements and private consultations with clients.I belive she is now attending medical classes towards a DR to do more research.
post #8 of 26

cooking in hospitals!

Thanks panini,,,,,,for example that is nice,,,,,i have though about being the nutritian in a hospital in the food department. U could change many things and dont give that boring food that u usually find. Come on,,,,,,,,sick people need to smile or feel happy for a moment,,,,,,Im sure nice food can make them feel better,feel important, feel respected of course always checking their health. It could be similar than catering I think but in office schedule and u can go home early for spending time with family. hehe,,that's sometimes difficult even u arent a cook,,nowadays accountants,,finances people, economists work till very very late,,,,,,but not more than midnight like cooks.

kind regards and hugs!

post #9 of 26
Hey Laci,
There is a reaserch chefs association that you may want to get in touch with. However the line between research chef and corporate chef can be a little grey. I am in the Toronto area and meet with a group of fellow corporate chefs once in a while. However most of us work for manufacturers or distributors in either foodservice or retail. I beleive their is currently a posting on one of the major job sites (I forget where I saw it) for a research chef in Quebec for a company that does large (very large) volume catering for air lines. May be worth looking into?
Chef Bob

"Ask not what you can do for your country. Ask what's for lunch?" ~ Orsen Wells (1915-1985)
Chef Bob

"Ask not what you can do for your country. Ask what's for lunch?" ~ Orsen Wells (1915-1985)
post #10 of 26
I'm not a research chef, I just know a few.

On one end of the spectrum there are chefs, on the other end are food scientists. We all know what chefs do, but what do food scientists do? Food scientists develop products like canned soup, dried pasta, cereal, and fruit snacks. Sometimes they take "regular" food like pulled pork and figure out a way to package it in a convenient way so consumers can "heat and eat," and sometimes they create whole new foods such as fruit rollups. They sometimes figure novel ways to reinvent certain standards such as PB&J sandwiches (uncrustables) or figure out a way to make microwave caramel popcorn.

A research chef's job can be anything between a chef and a food scientist. At some companies, for example, research chefs are solely responsible for developing gold standard items. Chicken Cordon Bleu, Fettucine Alfredo, and so on. They work with food scientists on formulation and scale up work in order to make it feasable on a large scale. Sometimes this can take many many iterations. In this case, research chefs are may be responsible for prototypes, testing prototypes with various consumer groups, and reformulating prototypes before the products get scaled up.

At the other end of the spectrum, research chefs with degrees in food science and culinary arts may be directly responsible for the large scale production formulation of food products. This is normally the job of a food scientist, but companies are now realizing that scientific knowledge isn't sufficient to produce good tasting and wholesome prepackeged ready to eat foods. In this case, the research chef may have to be familiar or even certified under FDA or USDA guidelines. In otherwords, they have to understand how to package food so they don't kill anyone!

Then there's a whole lot of in between. Some research chef duties might stop at large scale production formulation, some might just do small scale recipe formulation for places like the Olive Garden or Applebees. Whatever you choose, there's a large market out there for chefs with food science degrees. The higher the food science degree the better.

Sometimes I don't get to post much but if you're patient I'll try and respond to any other questions you may have.
post #11 of 26


Thanks Bob and Kuan,,ur knowlodge is interesting!!!!!!

It sounds like much work, too,, nice! hehe,,,,,
I have just have the culinary arts degree,,,,,i still checking for nutrition and sciences,,,. I would like to get better opportunites than cooking sundays,,,but who knows! its hard work!

a big hug

post #12 of 26
I'm starting culinary school next Tuesday and I really want to get into the research part of the industry. I looked at that website and there was a section that listed some of the schools that offer a "culinology" degree. Do any of you know which school has the best program? I was looking at Umass-Amherst and they seem to have a good program.

post #13 of 26
Hi Laci
This does not pertain to your question, just curious is you moms name Robin?
Lives in Alabama, I'm her friend in Washington, if you are her , just hi,its a small world
post #14 of 26
Well, the companies hiring people with culinology degrees are few and far between. In fact, I know of no food companies who hire R&D with no chemical engineering or food science background. Despite what the website says, there is no substitute for kitchen experience. No substitute, I don't care how many years you've been in school, and there's no substitute for a solid scientific background and experimental design. That takes doing real research, not just learning about it in school.

My guess is that a degree in culinology will land you in a test kitchen. If you want more opportunity for advancement, get a AA in culinary arts, MS in food science.
post #15 of 26
Thread Starter 
I didn't check the replies, because I didn't see too much, so I've been away from the forum for a while.
What is the research chefs association you mentioned in your post?
Yeah, corporate chef also sounds interesting, I'll look into that...
If you're in the Toronto area, will you be attending the event at the end of October for research chefs held at George Brown?

post #16 of 26
Thread Starter 
Thanks for your informative reply. Small scale recipe formulations for industrial customers or the foodservice sector sounds very interesting. Do all restaurants have such personnel, or is it limited to Olive Gardens and Applebee's? Is there a directory where I could locate such companies?

post #17 of 26
Thread Starter 
No, it must be a different Laci...
post #18 of 26

Get Real!! and make your life DELICIOUS!

Hello Everyone!

It think everyone makes a good point; however, everyone seems to forget the patron saint of everything we do -- and -- her message....


Julia Child alwasy said, eat, but in small portions. Fat is important in any diet, but if you eat two slices of wonderful bacon, not two pounds the impact on your life/body will be significantly different.

Do you know why some people slice hamburgers in half? Julia only ate half of her favorite meal... and shared or brought the other half home....

Me, on the othe hand, I eat half and then eat the other one.... it's easier that way... that's why I'm so fat! Just cut the friggin burger in half and eat some salad!!! Sheeeeze, I love those burgers... I'll just eat the whole thing... that's the problem.... So... SMALL PORTIONS!!! That's the secret!

Mr. D.

post #19 of 26
Well, no companies actively list all their positions. The Research Chef Association will have job listings. Recruiters also may know of some. RCA is the way to go. They've grown quite large in the last few years.

I have to emphasize education. If you're interested mainly in the chef side of things, then it will do you well to get a bachelor's degree in food science and an AA in culinary arts. If you intend on being significantly involved in large projects upwards of $100M/yr, then an advanced degree is absolutely necessary.
post #20 of 26

Again me!


Im going to Australia in some months, and I have been checking about food science. I really like it. I can read about food many hours and I like tasting much. I have been taking som maths, chemistry and biology courses, and Im good at it, specially at maths. Some of my friends,tell me, are you a cook? I dont know why people think cooks are silly and just can cook, and cant be at maths, cant be good in redaction and know about economics. I think food science studies will be my next step. Now im studying english for getting my IELTS test. Do you know any webpage where we can find people who wokr in this? who work tasting food for big companies like knor, krafts. It must be interesting and great job. Kind regards. Any advice?

post #21 of 26

Research Chef Seminar in Toronto

Re the Research Chef seminar at George Brown College in Toronto on October 26th, here's the link to the site at the University of Guelph (Guelph Food Technology Centre) where you can get more info on the full-day seminar, and register online:

It sounds like it ought to be a fascinating seminar (I'm signed up for it). It'll give you more insight into the field and you'll get to network with the lecturers and other people in the industry. It will also give you the opportunity of check out the George Brown Chef School (from which I graduated with a Culinary Management diploma in 1999, I might add).
post #22 of 26



I am currently finishing my degree in Culinology. To be considered a Culinologist you need to have a degree in Food Technology from an accredited University that has been approved to run the Culinology program in which you will learn both the extent of a Food Science degree and a Culinary Arts degree. Someone who has a BS or MS in Culinology can then work for companies as a research chef to develop products. An example of this would be working for a company such as Campbell's and creating a new line of V8 drinks. A Culinologist needs to have an extensive background knowledge of microbiology, chemistry, food engineering, packaging science, and nutrition on top of the culinary degree. This is a very competitive job market and requires a MS for most positions.


Hope that helped!



post #23 of 26

The top 4 schools in the country for Culinology are Clemson, Virginia Tech, Penn State, and UMass Amherst. When you're piking a school for Culinology you need to pick based on the research the school is doing and the avalability of CAPStone classes because they will give you real life experience and not just lab work. I am finishing my degree in Clemson and Im glad I decided on going here. The program is amazing. The Food Science classes are small and you get a lot of attention. Not to mention our program is accredited. All undergraduate students leave having at least one publication. Im not saying you shouldn't look into other schools. But I would make sure that for the money (Which all of those schools are expensive) you are getting what you really want. 

post #24 of 26

Hello Hannah


I find this forum extremely interesting


i have a 4 year bachelors degree in Hotel management and Catering Technology from one of the elite schools in India.  I currently work in the UAE as a commis chef.


Am very keen to do my masters related to Culinology.  I understand the good schools are Umass Amherst, Penn State, Clemson and Virginia Tech.  Would I need to do a GRE ?  i love the modules mentioned.


Any advice from any professional would help me



post #25 of 26

study culinology can become a molecular gastronomy chef?

post #26 of 26

No,  but if you start a new thread in the student forum maybe you can get a discussion going.

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