If you love the restaurant business but you’re no longer keen to work directly in a kitchen then the role of restaurant consultant could be ideal. This is the kind of job where you could be involved in a number of short projects, contributing your experience and expertise to help restaurants improve or get set up. Everything from inventory management to menu design, as well as staff training and customer service will come into play.
Becoming an instructor or teacher is a seamless transition for many people. Whether you choose to take a job with a culinary school or become a visiting teacher, this is the ideal way to pass on what you’ve learned to the next generation of talent.
If you’ve been working in the industry then you’re going to know a lot about food, from flavour combinations through to presentation quirks. This positions you perfectly for a career as a critic or commentator on the industry. There are many, many chefs who have successfully transitioned from working in the kitchen to writing about it. The most successful are passionate about trends and tastes and want to provide a way for civilian foodies to get more interested and more involved.
A food stylist
If the part of the job you’ve enjoyed the most is the dish design and the aesthetics then a food stylist could be an ideal role. This means preparing dishes for photo shoots, whether for a restaurant menu or a magazine. Some adaption will be required – for example, photographed food has different quality requirements to food presented to eat – but the eye you’ve developed will give you an instant advantage.
Product developer or test chef
For the innovative minds out there a research and development role is the dream, creating new dishes and products and immersing yourself in trends and new tastes. Test chefs are similarly investigative but tend to be more about fine tuning and technical excellence than creating from scratch.
With kitchen experience you are in an ideal position to set up your own restaurant. This isn’t a less stressful role but can be much more fulfilling. It’s important to make sure you get some insight into the business side – or a knowledgeable partner – so that you have the right balance of food expertise and business smarts.