Coolest Jobs In America – Test Kitchen Manager (feat. Juli Roberts)

Coolest Jobs In America – Test Kitchen Manager (feat. Juli Roberts)


I love the fact that I work in a restaurant. It gives you street cred. You know what I mean? Like, there’s a certain culture in restaurants
where it toughens you up. It makes you a faster cook. It makes you better cook. It makes you a cook that, you know, sees things. Hi! I’m Juli Roberts. I work at Rodale and I’m the Test Kitchen
Manager. Every magazine out in the world that has recipes
has people in the back that are testing and developing those recipes. So, as a Test Kitchen Manager, it’s my job
to get all that stuff accumulated, tested, and edited and written up for the magazine. There are six brands under Rodale. All the magazines report in to me with the
recipes and the things that they need tested and developed and I organize it all into our
week. Monday is our prep and shopping day meaning
we get all the editors to send everything and make sure it’s in by Monday morning so
that we can go shop everything. Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday are our testing
and on Friday is our editing day. So everything we tested throughout the week,
we’ll edit all those recipes so we can get them out to all the different magazine editors
for copy. The path I took to get here was a little varied. I started in engineering. I was working on submarines when I decided
I didn’t want to do it anymore so then I went and I got a degree in English literature and
writing. And then, I figured I wanted to cook in my
life so the best way to marry all those things was in a test kitchen because it’s science
and writing and food all together and it made me so happy. I feel like test kitchens are a mystery to
a lot of people. I don’t I think people really understand what
we do here. We’re not testing conveyor belts of different
beans and whatever. We are actually developing recipes. We actually do try and make your work a lot
easier at home, on the backend, cooking. It’s a very different thing to think about
a recipe and conceptualize into words so that anybody can make it. My job is so that anyone picks up this recipe
and they’ll be able to make it appear in front of themselves within, like, twenty to thirty
minutes. We try to give you the markers, the things
you’re smelling for, looking for, feeling for instead of the time. From one oven to the next, the time might
skew by, like, five or ten minutes so it’s more important to me to tell you what you’re
looking for than to tell you it’s going to take ten minutes. We do influence the recipes that we get in
the test kitchen either by adding more language to help the home cook or by making ingredient
changes that again are more helpful to the home cook. Not everybody can access tangerine oil so
we try and figure out a way to make it more accessible for anybody using it on the outside
world. At test kitchens, you can start as an intern
straight out of culinary school. We do do externship programs with schools. Then there’s the different associate levels
of test kitchen work. I mean, we are officially editors because
we do do recipe editing. It’s not necessary to go to culinary school
to work in a test kitchen but it’s probably your best bet to get into one. I went to the culinary school at the Institute
of Culinary Education in New York City. For a position in a test kitchen, I would
definitely suggest some sort of bachelor’s degree in literature or writing. A journalistic degree is also great. It’s just because we are editing recipes,
learning how to turn a phrase, and being good with your word count is really, really helpful. A lot of culinary schools build externship
programs into their curriculum so you will already be cooking for a couple months to
a year and they’ll send you out to work at different places, whether it be a magazine
or kitchens. You can get externships anywhere. When I found out that test kitchens were like
an actual job that you can do, I felt like the heavens opened because I really did feel
that all these things that I kind of had built up in my arsenal, things to use in life were
going to all merge into one place that I actually wanted to be.

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