A Freelance Gig to Consider: Taste (or Flavor) Tester

This would seem like a nice way for a foodie or culinary student to make extra money. Heck, I know of some people who would do this in place of regular meals. However, it's not quite that simple. According to Indeed, a number of qualifications must be met before taking on the role of food tester.

What's Needed to Be a Food Taster/Tester

Unfortunately, this isn't a position that allows you to gorge on random food by the pound. Most food tasters must take small bites and make notes as required by the company. This includes honest critiques using words other than "mmm" or "tasty".

You also must be able to distinguish flavors in the small bites you're required to take, along with aroma and other factors. Again, your feedback must be descriptive and objective enough for those who work in marketing, distribution, and so on. If you're someone who can't tell Cheddar cheese from Velveeta, you may want to consider mystery shops that specialize in the hospitality industry. Work may be sporadic but there's free food to look forward to once your visit is accepted.

Who's Hiring People to Taste Food for Money?

These are called sensory tasting companies and while this list is rather short, you can also supplement your part-time income by joining live survey panels, in addition to mystery shops. The latter isn't always as detailed and focuses on the service provided as well as food quality and taste. However, all entities that need food tasters want someone who can express themselves well in writing.

This job also requires that a person be open-minded about the product itself. In other words, you may be tasting a product never heard of by anyone in your social circle. Other instances include food that looks or smells strange. While you may have the opportunity to gorge on gourmet meals or other edibles, this is a business first. Also, many of these companies are not located in major cities so this may cut the competition.

Can This Be a Freelance Business?

Like anything else, there are advantages for the freelancer as well as the company when the middleman is cut. Unless you live in a large city and/or have a strong following that relates to food, like a social media chef, the opportunities may be limited. In other words, you'll spend a lot of time carving out your niche.

Other desirable qualities include having a degree or credentials that relate to food. This isn't limited to culinary students but also nutrition and science majors may also have an advantage over the typical home cook or foodie. However, you home cooks who can demonstrate a wide palate, meaning you're familiar with various spices outside of what's sold at chain supermarkets can also ease your way in.

What if Culinary School is Out of the Question?

Like anything else, there are a ton of videos that cover palate training, which teaches you how to distinguish flavors. Spoon University also has some ideas on how to do this at home. Even if you don't want to enroll in a program, many culinary and cooking (amateur) schools offer this online as well as a live class.

Tasting jobs may include taking sips of wine, chocolate, or a new product that is ready to launch. Chain restaurants that want to branch out from their normal menu also need tasters to help them decide if this will be a wise investment. See the below video for some of the most notorious menu fails ever.