General Career Questions
Flavor chemists (also known as flavorists), develop flavors using natural and synthetic approved flavor chemicals and extracts for a wide variety of food and beverage products using creative and artistic talents along with various analytical tools including GC/MS. Another path for flavor development involves understanding how the chemistry of cooking generates taste and aroma, this is called reaction or processed flavors. A savory flavorist understands how to develop flavor profiles using these materials via specific heat and pressure parameters.
Flavor Chemistry is the artistic blending of approved chemicals and extracts to achieve a desired flavor profile for a specific food, or beverage product. The flavor may enhance, shift, or even mask the flavor of the food itself. In some cases the added flavor provides the full flavor profile of the product.
Process or reaction flavor chemistry seeks to mimic or enhance the flavor of cooked foods. Sugars, amino acids and fats are used to mimic or enhance the cooking process.
There is no difference in these terms. They are used throughout the industry interchangeably.
In general a BS degree in food science or chemistry is desirable (and with some companies, a requirement). A good memory, strong basic mathematic skills, creativity, and good sense of taste and smell are essential.
A flavorist uses natural and synthetic approved flavor chemicals to achieve a desired taste and flavor perception. A perfumer uses natural and synthetic chemicals to achieve a desired fragrance. Fragrances are not designed for ingestion. The two careers share many skills.
Many food and flavor companies offer internships. Connect with industry social media such as LinkedIn. You can also attend trade organization meetings to network and explore opportunities for internships.
Literature recommendations can be found in The Society of Flavor Chemists Syllabus and includes the following
John Wright, Flavor Creation
Steffan Arctander, Perfume and Flavor Chemicals
Dolf DeRovira, The Dictionary of Flavors
Burdock, Fenaroli’s Handbook of Flavor Ingredients
Earl Merwin, Flavor History
Earnest Guenther, The Essential Oils
Dr. Brian Lawrence, Essential Oils
Gary Reineccius, Flavor Chemistry and Technology, Source book of Flavors
Perfumer and Flavorist
Journal of Agriculture
Food Product Design
Food Chemical News