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The duties of a development chef will typically involve working with menus and foods to create new dishes or to create variations of dishes to serve specific purposes. This type of chef can work at a restaurant or chain of restaurants, and often works to create new dishes, especially dishes that others can make at other restaurant locations. A development chef can also work for a food production company, especially a company that produces pre-packaged meals. In this type of company, the chef will develop foods that can be easily mass produced and frozen or otherwise packaged for reheating by customers.
A development chef typically has a background as a professional chef, usually with head chef experience to ensure he or she has a sufficient background in culinary arts. While standard food preparation and knowledge of ingredients is important, this type of chef will also often have a deeper background in experimental food methods or food science. This is important since a development chef will need to understand how different flavors combine and the various techniques that can be used to quickly prepare meals.
Restaurant chains will often hire a development chef to work with a kitchen staff in developing new dishes for preparation and service at restaurant locations. In this type of situation, the chef is usually responsible for designing a dish in a way that can be quickly and easily prepared at other locations. This can involve a great deal of testing and work to ensure that the same dish prepared at different locations will taste the same. Smaller or independent restaurants often do not have a development chef, and instead the head chef at such a restaurant will come up with ideas for new dishes that can be prepared on site.
A development chef can also work for private companies in developing foods for specific needs and various criteria. This type of work is often done at a company that prepares frozen or boxed foods that can be assembled or cooked quickly and easily. The chef will typically work to test different recipes and develop dishes that maintain flavor and texture through freezing, dehydrating, and reheating. An understanding of how foods can be treated and preserved is quite important for this type of work, and so the chef will often perform a good amount of research in food science.
The airline industry also utilizes the services of a development chef in creating meals for service during flights. High altitudes alter people’s sensitivity to foods, and so special preparations are utilized to try to ensure the food is still enjoyable. The chef in this type of work will often prepare foods with certain alterations and then test them at various altitudes to ensure their flavor is acceptable in various conditions.