How do I Become a Flavorist?

Harriette Halepis

If you wish to become a flavorist or food chemist, you will first have to begin by obtaining an undergraduate degree from an accredited college or university. Most flavorists study either biology or chemistry at the undergraduate level, and then move on to food-specific studies at a post-graduate level. In some instances, a PhD may be required in order to obtain a job as a flavorist.

Flavorists are chemists whose job it is to produce synthetic flavors and change food's taste.
Flavorists are chemists whose job it is to produce synthetic flavors and change food's taste.

Within the United States, there are a few different colleges and universities that specialize in food science studies. These schools include the Universities of Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, and Michigan; Rutgers University and Cornell University also have top food science programs. Since any job related to food chemistry or food science is largely based upon curiosity, you must have a curious nature in order to become a flavorist.

A flavorist must be familiar with a number of herbs and artificial flavorings.
A flavorist must be familiar with a number of herbs and artificial flavorings.

These scientists spend their days mixing and matching specific chemicals in order to create unique flavors. Therefore, someone who works within the food science field must be creative and intuitive. Even though an academic background is important in order to gain a job as a flavorist, curiosity and creativity are two qualities that cannot be taught.

Most flavorists study chemistry at the undergraduate level.
Most flavorists study chemistry at the undergraduate level.

Food scientists must also have a general understanding of food composition. Many flavorists thoroughly enjoy the cooking process, since cooking can be a large part of working as a florist. Most spend a great deal of time working in laboratories in order to find unique flavor combinations. These laboratories are frequently equipped with standard kitchen equipment such as microwaves, stoves, blenders, and even complete kitchens.

Since the job of a flavorist is to combine different chemicals with everyday food, it is important that a flavorist knows how to create specific and desired reactions. Not only is it crucial that foods taste good, but any food developed by a flavorist must also be safe for human consumption. This type of knowledge can only be gained through academic work and through an intimate knowledge of food.

Many successful flavorists have an excellent sense of smell and taste, since these two senses are used on a regular basis within the food flavorist field. Thus, in order to become a flavorist, all of the factors mentioned above must be combined. To become a flavorist, begin by looking for a school in your area that offers an undergraduate degree in chemistry or biology. Once you have obtained the appropriate undergraduate degree, you will be able to decide if the career of a food chemist is the right path for you.

A flavorist should have a great sense of taste and smell.
A flavorist should have a great sense of taste and smell.

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Discussion Comments


Food science is so interesting. I know there are a few restaurants now that try to formulate their recipes based on scientific principals rather than traditional cooking techniques (although, of course, using one doesn't mean always chucking the other out the window!).

One of my favorite recipes that uses science to improve the food is garlic mashed potatoes with lime jelly. It was developed in a restaurant in England.

The little bits of lime are like a palate cleanser, so that you don't become overwhelmed and stop tasting the garlic. They realized they should add the lime because the scent molecules from the potatoes would build up in a person's nose and dull the taste.

Isn't that cool? I can't wait to see what gets made next.


Its interesting to think of needing to have a hyper sensitive sense of taste and smell in order to excel at your job. I wonder how a person would determine if their sense were more acute than other people? Obviously smokers would probably be disqualified but what about the rest of us. Is there some kind of test you can take to discover where your sense lie on the spectrum? If there is I would love to take that test. I probably don't have the science knowledge to become a flavorist but maybe I could become some kind of food tester.


I think people who become flavorists must be quite passionate about food. It seems like a strange job to go all the way to getting a PhD for. That's years of study, so that you can develop flavors for snack foods!

I like to think of them as mad scientists, mixing flavors and testing on them on themselves, but I'm sure it is much more strictly controlled than that.


On the surface being a flavorist seems like a simple job. It conjures up images of cooks tinkering with recipes or soda jerks adding specialized flavors to their mixes. But in reality this is a very difficult and technical job that takes a lot of training. It has more to do with science than with anything culinary.

This is because the job of flavorist has less to do with combining flavors and a lot more to do with synthesizing flavors. Think about a company like Doritos. All they sell are corn chips with different flavors sprinkled on them. But these flavors imitate the taste of nachos, tacos, ranch sauce and buffalo wings. It is not easy to create a powder that tastes like nachos. So the next time you are eating your favorite snack food thank the flavorists who toiled in their lab to make it taste that way

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