My Food Job Rocks!

There is very little awareness of what the people in the food industry actually do. This stems back to the lack of knowledge and awareness of the range of degree courses and programs available that will equip them for a career in food. My FoodJobRocks! by Adam Yee is the first podcast of its kind that allows listeners to hear directly from people who are in the food industry and have a passion for what they do. They share how they became involved in food and describe what it is they do, plus a few more fun questions just to keep things entertaining. Listen to them here, and stay tuned for a new episode every Monday.
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My Food Job Rocks!


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Dec 26, 2016

Today’s guest is Ken Botts, the Food Policy Manager at the…Humane Society?

So I believe that Ken’s job title is very misleading. I would call him more like a food service plant protein expert. He lead a a team and travels all over the United States implementing plant based proteins into food institutions.

For example, his team works with chefs in schools, amusement parks, and even the military to educate and create amazing menus that use plants.

In this episode, you’re going to learn everything about the hot topics of plants. This includes why eating plants is important not only health wise, and sustainability wise, but also learn the latest companies innovating with plant proteins, really cool recipes like non-dairy cheeses, and even about urban farming.

Again, we wanted to remind you about the graduate school series next week. We'll be pushing hard on this initiative. In fact, we even a have freebie to give you. In exchange for an email address, you can get a nice, polished, graduate school post which will tell you what and when to prepare for applying to graduate school.

About Ken Botts

Ken Botts is a food service consultant, speaker, and blogger. In 2009 he designed and developed the nations first all vegan dining hall at the University of North Texas. His ideas and insights have appeared in media outlets including; USA Today, The Dallas Morning News, Green Source DFW, ABC news, Food Service Director Magazine and VegNews. Ken uses his 35+ years of food service experience to help restaurants and food service organizations implement plant-based menus and concepts. His mission in life is to help make the world a better place one plate at a time.

Key Takeaways

- Millennial’s push to know what’s in their food and why they care about food and the future
- The challenges of opening a Vegan Restaurant
- Amazing advice on how to network really well
- The hottest plant food trends
- How plants can potentially save the world
- Why the Military loves plants
- Why Urban Farming might be the solution

Summary Answers

When you’re introduced to someone, what do you tell them you do?: Teach chefs how to work with plant protein
Most exciting part of the job: I get to travel all over the world to help food service professionals
Millennials are driving the demand of plant proteins
Most Important Skill You Can Have: Long term connecting with people
Tips to be a connector: Never meet a stranger. Have the mindset that you can help someone when you meet them.
My Food Job Rocks: Make the world a better place through food
The Biggest Challenge the Food Industry as to Face: How are we going to feed the future without destroying the planet?
Who Inspired you to Get Into Food: My mom: if you get a job in the food service, you’ll always have a job
Favorite Quote: If somebody offers you an amazing opportunity and you don’t know how to do it, say yes. – Richard Brandson
Favorite Book: Diet for a Small Planet
Favorite Piece of Equipment: Vitamix – You can heat soup!
Favorite Food: Bean Burritos
Advice to get into your industry: Strive to learn something new every day. Find yourself a mentor. And think as big as you can
How does the Humane Society get clients?: Schools first, other things follow. It’s free too.

What We Talk About

Global Conference for Amino Acids
James Beard Foundation
Humane Society
Paul Shapiro
Josh Balk – Cofounder Hampton Creek
Kristie Middleton
Vegan Dining Hall
Men’s Journal about Plant Based Proteins
“Clean Meat”
Feed 9 billion people in 2050
Beyond Meat
Tyson Food buys a stake in Beyond Meat
Kite Hill Almond Cheese
Treeline Vegan Cheese
Myoko Vegan Cheese – Has a book
World Health Organization
Year of the Pulses
Changing the culture of the culinary world through Chefs
Department of Defense
Urban Farming
Northeastern University
Herbavore festival in Riverside
Pumpkin Mac and Cheese – recipe posted at
Humbolt State University
Sea World Parks

Dec 19, 2016

I’m so happy to introduce Tiffany Lau, a friend I knew from Cal Poly.
We actually graduated together, and from time to time, we catch up. Though before this interview, it’s been a while.

Anyways, very excited to have Tiffany on the show because she has experience with a very important, but not really well talked about part of the industry.

She is the first guest to focuses on a very important part of the industry: food safety.

Working as an Auditor for the NSF, she goes and does audits for retail food stores. This mainly involves correcting and teaching workers about food safety habits.

If you’re interested in learning about audits, this is really for you. You’ll learn a ton of things such as what tests to take, what it’s like to work at home, and why this job might resonate with you.

This is also a pretty nice interview if you’re interested in sales

Let’s begin

Key Takeaways

  • The difference between a health inspector and 3rd Party Auditing
  • Why a Food Safety position might be for you
  • Retail Safety versus Manufacturing Safety
  • Pros and cons of being Home-based
  • The payoff for being a food safety auditor


Most common problem in audits: There is no one specific problem
Why Does Your Food Job Rocks:
It feels like I can help people
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?: I want to try Regulatory. Quality, Food Safety, or Regulatory
What do you look for most in a job?: A job should make you happy
Food Trends and Technology: Rolled ice cream
Biggest Challenge to Food Industry needs to face: Food Labeling
Who Inspired you to Get into food: Alton Brown, my mom
Favorite Kitchen Equipment: Kitchen Aid
Favorite Food: Korean Food – buckwheat in cold broth
Advice: If you’re studying to be an auditor: focus on microbiology and food safety
Deleting your goal or purpose on your resume
People Skills, interacting with clients, make them not afraid of you
When looking into the future: ask if this is right for you
Something inspiring: “Lucky Breaks don’t happen, they’ll only happen when you find something you love”

What We Talk About (Links)

3rd Party Food Safety Auditor
Unannounced Audits
Explaining food safety aspects
Recruiting via linkedin
CPFS Certified Professional Food Safety Credential
Bad bug chart (coming next year)
Food Defense
626 Night Market
Korean fried chicken
Koreatown – Kyochan Chicken- best Korean fried chicken
Taylor Swift Song (Haters gonna hate)
Smart Label Initiative
French Macarons
Macarons vs Macaroons
REHS - Registered Environmental health specialist

Dec 12, 2016

Some housekeeping items:

- We're going 2 times a week! Check out a new episode every Monday and Wednesday starting January 2nd!
- On January 2nd, we will be creating an awesome new series called the Graduate Series. You can check it out at

Key Takeaways

  • Hear me pronounce words wrong like existential crisis
  • My story about applying to graduate school
  • 5 reasons why you should apply to graduate school anyways
  • See what we're launching in January

Is Graduate School For You?


I wanted to tell you my story on graduate school, which isn’t very exciting, but whatever.

I think everyone has this weird thing, like an existential crisis, that happens in your senior year of college where you have absolutely no idea what to do after graduating. I think it’s very common to have graduate school cross your mind once or twice during your final year in college. The school I went to to be honest, has a slight disadvantage when it comes to applying for graduate school. Though some people in my university do get in, the skill set in the food science program at Cal Poly was definitely geared more towards industry preparation. For example, I only had to take one Organic Chemistry course, where most master’s programs require like 3 courses on it. There are exceptions.

But anyways, applying to graduate school is really tough, I found it extremely stressful and overall, I turned in my application late and didn’t get in. Actually, I only applied to Penn State for graduate school. I got so angry at UC Davis’ process that I didn’t even finish it.

First of all, you have to take this dumb test where you stare at a computer screen for 6 hours, then you have to ask 3 people why you’re the best and either have them take the time to write a letter, or they ask you to write it for them, and then you have to not only request a transcript, but in some cases, you have to type it all in the application process as well! It was extremely frustrating for me.

I was also applying to jobs and if you looked back at like, episode 10, then you might remember how much time that consumed out of my day.

Overall, I had a cheesy revelation that there are plenty of people who are successful without a Ph.D. and I’ve heard a lot of stories about the pros and cons of graduate school, and then I realized I really didn’t want to deal with the stress of long hours and bite sized paychecks.

With a job, I could get money and spend it on cool projects, like this one!

Note: these are my opinions for people with a Food Scientist background. There are many people who major in things that might as well have an advanced degree, though if you think hard enough, you can actually get around it.

For example, a chemist might need a Masters but I know a handful of people who get into project management fresh out of college with a BS.

But the 7 people we will be interviewing do understand the value of a higher education and they will tell you all of their trials and tribulations, their hints and short cuts, and their undying passion to make the world a better place.

But anyways, I wanted to give you five distinct pieces of advice about graduate school and reasons why you should at least apply, or not apply. Sometimes it might be worth it, sometimes not.

5 Tips for deciding if Graduate School is for you.

  1. Decide what you want to do with your life

Most directors for rich companies have PhDs because they have the ability and drive to tell people confidently that they’re wrong.

The company I work at specifically have a lot of people at the director level that are doctorates.

So when it comes to mapping out your life, this is really, really hard. It is actually very rare for someone to follow their life in one straight line.

A masters will open doors, but so will starting a podcast about the food industry. Well, that was a bit tongue in cheek, but the fact remains, graduate school is a very nice, structured, accomplishable task and you can do great things in a narrow field when you get that masters or phd. If you want an unconventional method, get a job, and spend money on fun projects.

Some people don’t want to find the “truth of tomatoes” and that’s fine too. I think if you’re passionate and actually like what you studied, you can definitely do graduate school.

The cool thing with food science, however, is that there is a lot more incentive to enter the work force right away. This is mainly because having a science degree means two things:

  • You think you can tell lesser educated people they’re wrong (which is why you can be a supervisor straight out of college)
  • You can weigh and record in a little book your cookie recipe over and over again

Well, with a  masters degree, it adds a bit of a layer of complexity:

  • You think you can tell lesser educated people they’re wrong (which is why you can be a manager straight out of college)
  • You can weigh and record in a little book your cookie recipe over and over again, but now you can write a plan to make better cookies before you record your data.

So I am basically giving you the philosophy that a degree and work experience are pretty much equal, and the only thing that separates is the value and initiative YOU have to take to be successful.

Also, I can guarantee you that working at a 12 hour shift in a factory for a month is equal to a month in graduate school. I did this, it sucked, but I got a job that I love because of it.

Guys, to do great things, you must do something challenging, I can’t stress this enough. A good life is hard, if life was easy, it’d be too boring, right?

  1. Do you have good grades and accomplishments? Go For It!

Our friend Heather McCain is an amazing student, was our chapter IFT president, did a lot of stuff for IFTSA, and got stuff done. It would be a shame for her NOT to apply for graduate school.

I did some cool stuff too, so I decided to not let this go to waste and applied to graduate school.

This is the same experience I had going into college for my Bachelors.
I wanted to be a chef, but my grades were pretty good so I decided to apply to college. But graduate school, I realized… I’m not an academic. I’m still not sure what I’m good at. But I have a good idea on what I’m bad at.

In my opinion, it’s extremely painful to apply to graduate school but you should give it a shot. When I say painful, it’s going to take time and it’s going to take effort. The experience has some tangible takeaways, like knowing math… and knowing words…

So I have a bias about applying to graduate school because the process was absolutely terrible in my mind but I think with the interviews this month, you’ll have a much better strategy than I had. Who knows, I might actually change my mind.

Again, if you have the prerequisites, at least try applying. There is no harm to. I mean I did, and failed horribly at it! The point is, you’re going to regret not trying, more than you’ll regret trying.

And this statement is true for all decisions in life.

  1. Do you know a professor? Go for it!

If you have a professor’s digits on your phone, you can probably get funding. At least much more easier than everyone who doesn’t?

Most strategies I’ve learned from the interviews is that it is MUCH easier to contact professors, and set up a relationship and then apply to graduate school. The professor is going to OK you anyways so as long as you don’t have glaringly bad GPA or exam score.

Within the 7 interviews in the coming week, you’ll realize that a handful of them contacted professors and secured funding before even doing the application process. However, some were long time connections, and some didn’t even have to worry about it.

If this helps, Graduate school is not undergraduate school. It’s a low paying job with high returns in value and you have to treat it as such. You can get a job via connections and you can go to graduate school via connects. This is because you’re going to work with this professor for a very long time. He or she has to like working with you.

  1. Do you just not want to deal with the “real world”? Don’t Do It.

Everyone is scared about the real world and everyone has considered graduate school to be another two to 10 years of academic limbo. I would know, I’ve had it and I I’ve also heard graduate students that “I’m not ready to face the real world yet”

In my personal experience, that’s the worst, most cringe-worthy excuse I’ve ever heard.

In fact, you should deal with the real world first before deciding to go to graduate school. Get some industry experience, do an internship, work at a slaughterhouse. These experiences might actually give you more of a drive to get into graduate school.

The real world isn’t that bad, I mean you make money, right? And you can spend it on whatever you want. When you’re a graduate student, you have to be very frugal…well, unless your parents are paying for it. Then go for it!

  1. Do you want a higher pay grade? Don’t Do It… yet

    1. This questions depends on your major, but I’m going to assume the people listening are trying to get into the food industry.

Depending on the company, they will pay for your education. And you’ll also get paid for work! What a steal. If that ever gets offered, you should do it.

However, if you meticulously plan your life like a lot of my friends, you’re probably going to be disappointed.

My friends are like “oh in 5 years after I get my masters I’ll make this, then I’ll get married, have 2.5 kids and  nothing else will go wrong. I mean, maybe I dunno, but you can’t predict the future and even with that mindset, if one thing doesn’t go your way, your life will be very unhappy, which is just not necessary.

So does a graduate degree generally means more pay? Depends where you end up. Industry? Academia? Entrepreneurship? The possibilities are indeed endless.

With my discussions with Katie Lanfranki, we both discussed the fact that in this industry, having an advanced degree does not necessarily mean you’ll be paid higher. There are starting salaries in food science that make more than professors, who have made less than 10,000 dollars in the past 4 to 10 years.

Point being, don’t get your graduate degree for the money. DO it because you are interested in a specific subject, and want to be a MASTERS of it.

But again, mastery can come from anywhere. I would concider Deya from Beyond Meat (episode 24)is considered an expert in Extrusion with just a bachelors, and Darryl the ice cream consultant(episode 21) gained from entrepreneurship.

Either way, DO NOT GET YOUR ADVANCED DEGREE FOR THE MONEY. Having this mindset is very toxic. You have to do it because you love what you do. You have to do what will make you happy.

Anyways, those are my 5 reasons to go (or not go) to graduate school. But please, listen to all seven interviews so you can get multiple perspectives, multiple pieces of advice from people all over the world. This is extremely important. I would have killed for this if I was in graduate school.

Dec 5, 2016

We have an amazing guest today, Rohini Dey is an inspiring woman, who not only owns a very successful restaurant in New York and Chicago, but also spearheads a great scholarship program for aspiring women in the culinary field.

We are also proud to announce the Women in Culinary Leadership Scholarship and encourage you to apply. Click here for the link.

About Rohini Dey, Ph.d. 

A leading restaurateur, proponent of Indian cuisine with her unique Latin twist across Vermilion Chicago and NYC, an avid supporter of women, former World Bank economist and McKinsey management consultant, Rohini Dey straddles the worlds of business and philanthropy across the US and India.

Rohini was inspired to break away from her management consulting career by a desire to go entrepreneurial and a conviction that Indian cuisine in the United States was either confined to stereotypes, or timid and washed out. Rohini created and developed the Vermilion Indian-Latin concept and cuisine. She led the spectrum of entrepreneurial activities across her NYC & Chicago entities. As founder, owner and culinary director of Vermilion, Rohini oversees the operations and culinary evolution of her restaurants.

As a woman restaurateur, Rohini is a staunch supporter of women in business and mentorship and education of girls on a global level. A member of the Board of Trustees and the National Advisory Board of the James Beard Foundation, she co-founded the James Beard Foundation Vermilion Women in Culinary Leadership Program (WICL), backed by a roster of incredible restaurateur-mentors and celebrity (CFW) “Chefs for Women.”

About Vermilion

Since inception, Vermilion has been acclaimed as “Best New Restaurant” by Chicago Magazine, Travel & Leisure, Town & Country, USA Today, and Bon Appetit, among others. For its pioneering cuisine, woman-led team and Rohini’s entrepreneurial journey, she and Vermilion have been profiled in The Financial Times, Time, Oprah Magazine, Fortune, Esquire, Crain’s, Chicago Tribune, Wall Street Journal, New York Times, BBC World, CBS News, and NBC, among others.

Key Takeaways

- How Rohini took advantage in the rise of Ethnic Food
- How Rohini planned her research to make her restaurant (she gets very intense! Like interviewing 40 people)
- Why Rohini is also very passionate about Women in Culinary Leadership (there’s a scholarship at the end)
- Tips on what they look for as a candidate for a scholarship

What We Talk About

Previous Job: World Bank and McKinsey
Indian Cuisine
Passion: to feed the world
Latin Cuisine
Tandoori Skirtsteak (It’s fusion)
Play with food anything south of the US
What makes a good Chef?: Taste-minded, Cost-minded, Team –oriented, Vision-minded,
Why Does Your Food Job Rock?: "Because I can create an amazing new cuisine and surprise people by how delicious it is."
Women in Culinary Leadership – (
James Beard Foundation
Women in Culinary Scholarship Tip: Go Above and Beyond and Ask For More
New Trends and Techologies: Exotic flavors and spices getting utilized
Stiff upper-lipped Upscale Dining
Favorite Meal: Home cooking and street dining
Grilled Peruvian food in Cuzco
Tempura in Japan
What’s the one thing you’d like to know more about: Someone to catapult Rohini’s business (I pitch here about food science)
Advice on how to start your own restaurant: Do your research. Especially the cost.
Vermilion in New York and Chicago
New York is more competitive and jaded than Chicago eaters