Thursday, 16 June 2011

Tess the Recipe Tester!

I have been collecting cookbooks since I was 7 years old.  That is a long time.  You can tell my favorite cookbooks by their damage.  They often have pages falling out, ingredients spilled on some and notes to myself scattered throughout.  The reason some books are used more than others is because the recipes work every time.  The integrity of a cookbook relies solely on whether a recipe works or doesn’t. Testing recipes guarantees their accuracy.     

Do you like to cook and try new recipes making changes or additions to the original formula?  Did you know that most recipes are kitchen tested before they are published to ensure that they can be recreated successfully by the people who will use them? Recipes are formatted so that people get all of the information they need from them.  Recipes have common elements.  People who make sure that they work are called recipe testers.  

So if you have a passion for food, love for creativity, and the ability to multi-task, as well as take good notes then this just might be the career for you.

Recipe testers can work in many areas such as:
Independent Food Consultants- You might like to work as a recipe consultant for an establishment where a whole new food or beverage concept needs to be created.  
Food Magazines- Recipe testers work in test kitchens for Food Magazines where recipes are developed and re-worked.

Daycare Centers-Recipe testers prepare more nutritious allergy free meals by testing which textures of vegetables, legumes; low-fat cheeses, meats and dressings are appealing to young children.

Interview with Recipe Tester Tess Pappas:

As a kid Tess Pappas remembers; “My parents had three restaurants that I remember 
One was a steak and seafood house and the two others were diner types.  My parents were originally from Greece.  Greek classics were on the menus. I think the Greek style of cooking always influenced the menu and contributed to my interest in recipe testing.  Greeks love using olive oil, garlic, lemon and oregano.  You can put it on anything.”

 You need to have a real love for food. Your passion really never stops, even if you are not testing, you never really stop thinking about how you might change or enhance everything that passes your lips or the scents you experience.  Food becomes a lifestyle for a recipe tester because you never really stop thinking about it. It is such a rewarding career when you are passionate about it.”  

What Tess loves most about her job is; “I love the flexibility this job offers.   I can manage to work from my kitchen.  I can decide which jobs to accept or decline based on my personal schedule or with regards to the challenge.”

Although Tess likes to pick and choose her jobs there is a lot of self discipline that is required by being a freelance recipe tester. “The biggest challenge I have when working at home is to make sure that I do not face any distractions or interruptions.  As a freelance ‘recipe tester’ I don't have a typical day.  I juggle my family and kids and organize each job as they come up.”

What You Can Do to Get Ready:

  In Tess’s case she got a lot of experience when growing up in a restaurant environment.  She learned by watching both her Mother and her Grandmother tweak recipes.  Tess’s advice; “Stay in school and go to college. Any formal academic training and hands on experience around food will always be an asset.”  Tess studied baking at college.  She says that in order to be a professional recipe tester; “You cannot be frightened to experiment.  Don’t be troubled of failure. You need lots of patience and must try recipes over and over again.”

What It Pays:

Tess knows that when testing a recipe it is her client’s needs that are most important regarding the results. As a freelance tester an hourly rate is determined by the tester and the client based on professional standards. Budget regarding purchases is always an important factor to keep in mind. The ingredients are paid for by the client. The client is billed for the project with a complete break down of expenses including specific types of ingredients,   a request for a certain "brand". Tess also provides the client with a written report that might include any changes that she has made to a recipe and why she may have made the change.

The next time you make a favorite recipe consider why it works. 

Appetite is the best sauce. French Proverb




1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Dearest Gloria:
Thanks for your blog. I can picture you slopping some ingredients on your Favorite Cook-Book! You bring a smile to my face. L8er~Bevan