Share this Post
NTI’s Natural Food Chef Certification is unique among culinary training programs which makes the opportunities for employment after graduation broad and perhaps unconventional. Our students get comprehensive culinary training that gives them confidence to work in a variety of kitchen types, but they have an added layer of prowess that expands their skill set beyond being a conventional chef. Because they are trained to cook from the perspective of using high quality ingredients and preparing foods that not only taste great but are also supportive of optimal wellness, the field of opportunities is expanded to fit more of a niche market.
Starting your own business
The vast majority of our graduates go on to start their own personal chef or catering business. Personal chefs prepare meals for their clients in the client’s own home; caterers prepare food in their own licensed facility and then deliver the cooked food to the venue. Catering usually involves cooking for large groups – i.e. weddings, parties, corporate meetings, etc. Starting a meal delivery service would be similar in that the food would be prepared in your own facility, and then delivered to a single person or small group. Meal delivery and personal cheffing is usually done regularly (i.e. weekly) and catering is usually a one-time thing.
Another niche demand for a Natural Food Chef is to do menu planning and food preparation for retreats – particularly health related events like wellness, yoga and meditation retreats, but the skill set would be the same for corporate retreats, family retreats, etc.
Specialty food products are in high demand. Create a business around developing, preparing and marketing your food product. Start out small selling in farmers markets or selling online. Once you develop reliable customer base with high demand you can use this experience to work to get your product into retail stores.
You may have noticed that knowing how to cook is not a skill most people have these days. But at a certain time in peoples’ lives, they often feel compelled to want to learn how to cook for themselves and their families. As part of our NFC program, our students have projects that require them to teach their peers how to prepare certain dishes, so teaching is something that would come naturally to a grad. Cooking instruction can be done in person at the chef’s home, in the client’s home, in a teaching kitchen, in schools or online. Classes can be created to include general/basic cooking skills, or can be targeted toward specialty foods like gluten-free, vegan, Ayurvedic, or Indian cuisine.
Food blogging is huge right now. Partner your cooking skills with your social media skills and position yourself as an influential food blogger. This is an area ripe with opportunities for sponsorships and business partnerships.
Finding Employment as a Natural Food Chef
Working in a Restaurant
Of our grads who choose to work in restaurants, they usually opt for specialty locations that appeal to health-conscious consumers – i.e. allergy sensitive restaurants, organic restaurants, vegan restaurants, etc. Because our NFC program does not provide training in certain food prep modalities like deep fat frying, working in a conventional restaurant is usually less desirable for our grads.
Besides cooking in restaurants, the NFC grad would be well suited to be a menu consultant or a recipe creator. And of course, opening your own restaurant that prioritizes high quality ingredients and a health-promoting menu is always an option. Our program has occasionally drawn students whose primary goal is to open a wellness retreat center that includes organic, healthy meals as part of the experience.
Corporate wellness centers are more and more including onsite lunch venues for their employees. Their group insurance rates are reduced if their workers have fewer health issues, so there is incentive for them to provide healthy food options in their facilities.
Another opportunity to educate, share your expertise and create content is through freelance writing. There are many health-focused or cooking websites and blogs that pay their writers to come up with content. A writing position is flexible, remote and can bring in good money, especially through sponsorships and affiliates.
Cookbooks are a booming business. Cookbook authors and publishers often hire recipe testers to make their dishes over and over again to identify any problems or need for adjustments.
And cookbook writing is not just for celebrity chefs. In the age of digital media, self-publication and e-book authorship is easier and requires much less initial financial investment. Compiling your tried and true recipes into a cookbook that sells is a good way to establish credibility for yourself as a Natural Food Chef.
Healthy School Lunch Director
Many progressive school systems are recognizing that kids need better nourishment to improve their school performance and overall health. Because our NFC students get training in foods that support optimal wellness and in developing tantalizing flavor profiles, our grads are uniquely qualified to transform school menus into meals that are appealing to kids while at the same time helping to support their nutritional needs for good scholastic performance.
The same goes for high-end senior living centers. Optimizing health through nutrient dense meal offerings is a priority concern for these businesses. Often, they use the quality of food as a marketing tool to appeal to new residents. This is an ideal location for the Natural Food Chef to put their unique culinary skills on display.
Creating the Demand
Being a Certified Natural Food Chef has many rewards and opportunities to fulfill the career goals for graduates of Nutrition Therapy Institute. The concept of a Natural Food Chef is unique enough that it will likely require you to provide education about what that means and how your skills are different than that of a conventionally trained chef. Beyond that, it just takes a bit of creativity and innovation to find your niche and identify a target audience that you can start marketing to in order to create demand for your services.
About the Author
Dianne Koehler, MNT, is the Director of Nutrition Therapy Institute. She has been a Nutrition Therapist for twelve years and was an instructor for 10 years and Academic Dean for 2 years at NTI before becoming the Director of the school.
Share this Post