Are you tired of hearing about the same old career choices.. Have you ever thought of opting for a career which is different from the conventional streams? A food critic is one such stream you may find interesting, that is, if you have a good taste bud and the ability to convert these taste experiences to words. Those of you who have a flair for writing and a passion for food can consider becoming a food critic (food writer / restaurant critic / food columnists). Just like most other offbeat and uncommon career choices, the job profile of a food critic is quite interesting and challenging at the same time. Food critic or food writer is a broad term used to describe a writer who explores food or restaurants and then publishes the results of their findings. Those who share their opinions via food columns in newspapers and magazines are known as food columnists. A food writer/critic is a person who has a strong understanding and taste for good food combined with excellent writing and editing skills. Food critics write about restaurants, ranging from fast food establishments to high end exclusive restaurants, cafes, shops, food manufacturer or other food outlets. They provide thoughtful, descriptive and unbiased information to the public. Critics visit these food joints, taste their special dishes and then make their opinions known to public by publishing them in paper/magazine, Internet, TV or radio. These days internet is becoming more important in forming opinions about restaurants. This job needs you to try out any cuisine or dish you come across, no matter how strange or foreign it may seem, and write your opinion as descriptively as you can. While writing your opinions you should keep in mind that tastes differ among people and what you find enticing may not be considered so by others. Your job as a food critic is to check out the food and help the readers know if they'll enjoy it or not. The role of a food writer or restaurant reviewer is one of great responsibility. This is because most people prefer to read restaurant reviews especially of new places, before deciding whether or not they want to go to that restaurant. Giving an accurate opinion is important, at the same time you should not be unduly harsh in making judgments as your reviews can effect the business of the restaurateur. Becoming a food critic takes time. One has to get professional experiences in the world of food, either by attending culinary schools, hotel management courses or working in restaurants or taking up farming food articles, so that they can learn about every aspect of the food industry. It is not only tasting the food that makes a food critic, you should be an expert and have extreme knowledge about every aspect of food, from how certain foods are harvested to the history of various dishes as well as ingredients used in a particular dish and an idea on how it is made even to how a restaurant operates. Professional integrity is very important for food critics. They must make repeat visits to a restaurant so that they can make fair and balanced assessments of its ambience and offerings. More important, he should have exceptional writing skills to convert his experience into words, in an unbiased form. The way you present the reviews determines your success. Food criticism is not only concerned with writing about food, but also a restaurant's service, its ambiance and even other factors that can influence the enjoyment of food. After considering all the aspects of the dining experience, the food critic gives ratings which can be used by readers who are trying to decide whether or not they want to visit a particular restaurant. Food critics could specialize in a particular area or cuisine, such as Indian, Chinese or Italian etc or be a general critic. Eligibility Although food critics do not require a specialized degree to work, one must have creative writing skills or a degree in journalism. Having a hotel management degree, or attending culinary courses and knowing the art of cooking is an advantage, along with an experience in writing and publishing works. Knowledge about wines and its tastes is important in this field. knowing different languages is also helpful. Although most people seem to think that being a food/restaurant critic is an easy job that just about anyone can do, there actually are a few job requirements. Being interested in and knowledgeable about food isn't enough. A few other skills that may help a food critic to succeed would include: • An understanding of the culinary business and food in general • Relevant training and experience in culinary schools, restaurants and food industry • Strong and effective writing skills along with unbiased and constructive criticism • Knowledge of different varieties and palate of food • Professional integrity • Communication skills • Excellent presentation skills Above all a food critic must be honest and fair. The word 'critic' doesn't always have to be negative. If the food is not very good, a wise critic could make recommendations or give suggestions on how to improve a certain meal or restaurant Food Flavorist or Flavor Chemist Flavour is the sensory impression of food or other substance, and is determined mainly by the chemical senses of taste and smell. Flavorant is defined as a substance that gives another substance flavor, altering the characteristics of the solute, causing it to become sweet, sour, tangy etc. Flavor is an important aspect that keep customers happy and persuade them to come back and buy the same product. There are two categories of flavors- Natural flavors and Artificial flavors. The flavor of the food, as such, can be altered with flavorants, which affect the senses. Those who add flavor to the products are referred by the term Food Flavorist or Flavor Chemists. Flavorists are chemists who create flavors for food and other products. Flavor chemists or flavorists, make food taste good. The job involves not just mixing various ingredients to create artificial and natural flavors; but requires an in-depth knowledge of aroma chemicals, essential oils, plant extracts etc. Research and development; experimentation is an important part of the job. These professionals essentially create unique flavor combinations in a laboratory setting known as test kitchens. Laboratories are frequently equipped with standard kitchen equipment such as microwaves, stoves, blenders, and even complete kitchens. Most challenging aspect of this profession is that not only should the materials and chemicals a flavorist utilizes for flavor creation make food tasty, but it must also meet the standards prescribed by the Indian Government. To be more specific,it must be safe for human consumption. Food flavorist is a relatively new career in the food industry. As the career is closely related to chemistry, those with a degree in chemistry can opt for this career. Today, the vast majority of everything we eat includes natural flavors or artificial flavors developed by these professionals. As such, in products from potato chips to toothpaste to ice cream, food flavorist have their role to play. Eligibility Educational To enter the field of flavours, one must have at least a B.Sc. or M.Sc. in Chemistry or Biochemistry with some experience in the industry. A basic knowledge of food technology will be an added advantage. A student could take an undergraduate degree in either chemistry or biology and then go on to receive their masters in a food science program. A Ph.D. is usually required for independent research, teaching at a university, and for executive positions in a company. In India, flavour or perfumery schools are rare, hence emphasis is given to specialisation in Chemistry. Central Food Technological Research Institute, Mysore offers various short term courses as well as research opportunities in the field of food flavoring. The department of plantation products, spices and flavor technology engages in research and development activities in the areas of spices, coffee, tea, natural food colours and flavors. Personal attributes For a food flavorist, keen sense of taste and smell is the main requirement. He /she should have keenness to experience new smells. Flavorist must be creative, intuitive, motivated, dedicated and able to work in a team. Patience and willingness to experiment are also important. One must have computer skills to handle databases, spreadsheets, softwares etc. They must also have a general understanding of food composition. Job prospects If you have a passion for food and chemistry, then a career as a Food Flavorist or Flavor Chemist may be the right choice for you. As Food Flavoring improves the taste and marketability of foods, food processing companies have a demand for food flavourists. In India, most number of flavoring companies are concentrated in North India. Hence the scope for this career in much more in northern states of India than in any other state. Candidates with chemistry foundation are given in house training by companies to gain specified knowledge in the field. Food flavorists are employed mainly by industries, in food-processing and ingredient supply. Candidate have opportunities with the tea, coffee and wine industry as well. Some flavorists work for food production companies, another option includes working in flavor houses - companies that create flavors in a lab for numerous purposes. Being expensive for small food manufacturers to hire, flavorists typically work for flavor houses. These flavor houses often sell the finished flavor extracts to food manufacturers, and can also provide consulting services to a company to help produce specific flavors for its products. SN Kelkar, Mumbai is one of the largest flavors and fragrance houses in India. Opportunities for flavorists are not limited to the food and beverage industry alone. Flavors are added not only to food stuffs, but to items like toothpaste, beverages, medications, dishwashing liquids, cosmetics etc. Therefore Flavorist have opportunities in companies that manufacture skin creams, cosmetics, hair care products, and other products that exude fragrances. Flavorists have also penetrated the pharmaceutical industry to remedy the usual bitter taste of medicines. The demand for distinct flavors in other household products such as dishwashing liquids and detergents now require the services of flavorists.