Before we finally settle on a vocation, many of us will have found ourselves doing some seriously strange things in the name of staying alive. I, for instance, once spent four weeks crushing cardboard boxes in the basement of a posh deli for £5 an hour. This is not a remarkable achievement. Thankfully, I now find myself working above ground and writing about tasty things. Lucky me.
For some, however, the curious calling cards of a fledgling career do not fade with time. In many cases, things actually get even weirder the older you get. It turns out that the food industry is not all cooking and eating. There are entire careers built around the unorthodox aspects of all things food. Here are a few of the most intriguing.
1. Chicken Sexer
It might sound more like a criminal conviction than a career, but being a chicken sexer is deadly serious. Incredibly important in battery farming, chicken sexers determine whether chicks are male or female - and therefore suitable for egg or meat production. Just don’t accidentally misspell it with an “i” on your CV if you don’t want to attract the wrong sort of attention.
2. Dog Food Taster
Quite why dog food needs to be deemed fit for human consumption is still baffling, but we clearly live in strange times. Perhaps the most well known taste tester is Phillip Wells of Lily’s Kitchen, who has built a career eating dog food each and every day in order to determine its quality. You can’t fault his dedication.
3. Egg Peeler
Sometimes, you come across a task and think, “there must be an easier way to do this?” Though there are devices that can assist with automated egg peeling, many companies still employ more people than makes sense to prepare produce for hard-boiled foods such as scotch eggs. Despite looking fiddly, the pros have egg peeling down to a fine art. In fact the world record stands at 48 peeled eggs in a minute.
4. Fortune Cookie Message Writer
They might sometimes read like someone sat on their keyboard, translated it into Chinese, then translated back into English again, but there are actually professionals behind the wise words that conclude your takeaway. Typically offered to freelance writers in need of some quick cash, professional cookie writing jobs require creativity and exceptional command of grammar.
Thanks to trendy cooks like Rene Redzepi and the Noma team, foraging for food has become incredibly fashionable. Unfortunately for trendy chef, it isn’t always easy to hunt mushrooms when you have to be in the kitchen. Enter, the professional forager. Though it might require constant contact with nature, professional foragers often enjoy exclusive relationships with some of the world’s best restaurants. Not a bad perk if food is your thing.
6. Ice Cream Taster
If eating dog food for a living doesn’t quite float your boat, there are other, significantly more tasty, options on the table. Among the most famous ice cream tasters on the planet was John Harrison, who spent 30 years as Dreyer’s official “Taste Tester” and had his taste buds insured for over $1 million.
7. Water Sommelier
Waffling on about different wines might be pretentious, but doing the same thing about water is borderline insanity. Nonetheless, several of the most prestigious restaurants in the world have begun to employ their own specialist water sommeliers to ensure that absolutely everything that passes their customers lips is just right. Tap water is totally forbidden.
If you’re out of the loop, it’s easy to over simplify what goes on in the food industry. Fortunately, you now know that, whatever your talents may be, there is a place for you at the professional’s table. Just hope it doesn’t involve eating too much dog food.