Taylor Cocalis and Dorothy Neagle, co-founders of the gastro-job search tool Good Food Jobs, recently spoke to University of New Hampshire students about how to make the most of summer work experience. In turn, this gave them the opportunity to interview Dan Winans, the director of the EcoGastronomy program at UNH, about his own experience in finding a good food job. From the Good Food Job blog, The Gastrognomes:
What attracted you to a good food job?
My earliest childhood memories all revolve around food. My family had a huge garden, which often felt like a work camp, but produced the most delicious vegetables. At age eleven I started my first business, baking and selling bread to my neighbors. By the time I went to college I knew I wanted to be in the restaurant business, so I went to the University of New Hampshire (UNH) and studied Hotel Administration (the program is now called Hospitality Management). After College I cooked, I went to Culinary School, I ran the food service in a nursing home, I managed a small catering company, I ran a large catering department for ARAMARK, I opened two café bakeries, and I sold two café bakeries. Along the line I had lost sight of what was truly important to me: family, friends, and good food.
After selling the restaurants, my wife Amy and I moved from New England to Portland, Oregon and I found a job teaching at a culinary school. Prior to our move I had only briefly visited Portland, but when we began to settle in I felt like I had moved home. The local food community was so vibrant and omnipresent it was inspiring. After three years of teaching, Amy convinced me to apply to the University Of Gastronomic Sciences in Italy. In 2006 we sold our condo in Portland and took a giant leap of faith. We moved, with our eight month old daughter Annabelle, to Parma, Italy so I could pursue a degree in Food Culture.
How did you get your current good food job?
While I was in Italy I sent an email to Joseph Durocher, my mentor and professor from UNH. My intention was just to catch up and let him know how I was doing. His response was short and to the point: he thought I should come back to UNH to teach culinary labs to the Hospitality Management students. I had my doubts about doing that, and was hoping for a more exciting option. But I figured it would not hurt to get my resume out there. Within days of sending my resume, the Hospitality Management Chair contacted me to talk about a new program he was helping to start at UNH: EcoGastronomy.
Before I knew it I had accepted a job at UNH teaching food culture and culinary labs. I was also on my way to join the committee working to develop and implement a (first of its kind) Dual Major in EcoGastronomy. I spent my first year at UNH scrambling to keep up with my teaching duties and working on EcoGastronomy. In June of 2008 we had final approval to go ahead with the program and I was asked to take the position as director of the program.
How did your previous work or life experience prepare you for a good food job?
Virtually all the jobs I have had were related to food, but not always good food. Some of those good food jobs helped me to learn about how the “conventional” system works and what we are up against in trying to reshape our food system. Over the past decade I have spent a lot of time meeting people who care about good food. Through Slow Food, Chefs Collaborative, school, teaching and more I have become part of a network of people who really care about food. Read more…
And while you’re there, check out the education page, as well as their internship/apprenticeship and job listings, and be on your way to your own Good Food Job! For more information: www.goodfoodjob.com.
*Excerpt and photograph courtesy of Good Food Jobs — thanks!