Become a Recipe Developer: Step-by-Step Career Guide

Find out how to become a recipe developer. Research the education and training requirements and learn about the experience you need to advance your career in recipe development.

Do I Want to Be a Recipe Developer?

As the job title suggests, these developers create new recipes for many different purposes. Some recipe developers design recipes for individuals with specific health or dietary concerns, while others create commercial recipes for restaurants or food manufacturers. Other employment options for recipe developers include creating and writing recipes for magazine and book publishers or working in the culinary field. Recipe development jobs may often be on a freelance basis, and competition might be intense.

Job Requirements

Some formal secondary training is usually required for many of these jobs, but the requirements vary according to the recipe developer's career path. Depending on the specific jobs, professional certifications might be a plus. The following table outlines various requirements related to working in recipe development, based on the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics:

Common Requirements
Degree Level Varies; on-the-job training or postsecondary education for professional chefs, undergraduate or graduate degree for dietitians, writers and journalists
Degree Field Related field, such as culinary arts, journalism, nutrition and food science
Licensing or Certification Varies; licensure and professional certification required or preferred for some positions
Experience Varies; experience with cooking typically required
Key Skills Related skills, such as creativity, determination, persistence, sense of taste and smell, organization and communication

Step 1: Explore Career Options

Recipe developers may be professional chefs working for restaurants to create new menu items. Some work in individual restaurants, others for large chains. Food manufacturers also employ chefs to develop recipes that feature their products. Nutritionists and dietitians may work as recipe developers at hospitals, nursing homes and for health organizations, formulating dishes that meet certain health and dietary requirements. Food journalists and writers may also be recipe developers for food publications.

Success Tips:

  • Talk to a career counselor. Working with a professional can be helpful in identifying a career path that incorporates recipe development.
  • Take cooking classes. Restaurants, specialty food stores and adult education programs offer cooking classes. Taking classes can help someone who is interested in creating recipes learn basic cooking techniques and get experience with different recipe ingredients.

Step 2: Obtain Formal Training

Individuals might follow several paths to becoming a recipe developer. A recipe developer who is a professional chef usually has some formal culinary training through a technical college, specialized culinary arts school or college with a culinary arts or hospitality major. Other chefs receive training through the armed forces. A dietitian must earn at least a bachelor's degree in dietetics or a related field, and many hold advanced degrees. Food writers and journalists might get a degree in journalism, communications or English.

Success Tips:

  • Get an internship while in school. Internships provide students with hands-on experience working with food while still in school. These programs can help students decide whether a food industry career is right for them. For some food-related professions, such as dietetics, internships are mandatory.
  • Take courses in food writing or food media. Aspiring food writers and journalists should find out if their school offers food writing or food media courses.

Step 3: Gain Work Experience

Recipe developers might start their careers in entry-level positions within their chosen fields. Professional chefs often began their careers as line cooks. Dietitians begin their careers in institutional cafeterias. Writers and journalists may begin work as reporters or copywriters.

Step 4: Earn Any Necessary Licensure or Certification

Certain positions that involve recipe development may have licensure requirements. For example, in some states dietitians must be licensed. The Commission on Dietetic Registration (part of the American Dietetic Association) offers the Registered Dietitian (RD) certification along with several other dietary credentials, which can be helpful for career advancement and necessary to work in the field. The dietitian must pass a certification exam and show regular continuing education credits to renew the certification. For chefs, certification is voluntary, but the American Culinary Federation offers several options for those interested. The regular completion of continuing education courses is also a requirement for renewing ACF certification.

Step 5: Hone and Update Related Skills

Recipe developers should have strong written communication skills so that others can easily understand their recipes. Keeping up with food trends and new techniques is another important aspect of the recipe developer's job.

Success Tip:

  • Follow the industry. Take time to read offline and online industry publications. Attend trade shows and professional conferences to learn about trends, new ingredients and cooking equipment.

Related to Become a Recipe Developer: Step-by-Step Career Guide

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