How To Get A Job As A Dietitian In The Restaurant Industry
Spending money on dining out overtook grocery store purchases in March of 2015, according to Bloomberg and the Commerce Department. With more and more Americans dining out for most of their meals, the job opportunities available to dietitians is growing rapidly. Not only are the restaurants in a competitive business between one another, they are in competition for who offers healthier menu items, local, organic, or sustainable food choices, and special diet-specific needs to accommodate allergies, illnesses, and health concerns. And who best to do these tasks but the dietitian! This article will inform you how to get a job as a dietitian in the restaurant industry and what to expect once you have the job. – Sarah
1. Know the Industry. “Take the time to understand the restaurant industry and outline the types of services you can provide to help the restaurant meet regulations, minimize potential risks, and seize opportunities,” advises Cheryl L. Dolven, MS, RDN, owner of CLD Nutrition, who has worked for retail and restaurants for over 15 years and makes menu labeling manageable for business and meaningful for consumers.
2. Speak the Language. “Find ways to gain food science and business acumen. Having these skills will allow you to speak the food and business language and will open job opportunities to work in the food industry,” recommends Sarah Hendren, RDN, CD, dietitian for a fast/casual restaurant chain, Culver’s, with over 570 restaurants.
3. Get a Mentor. Both Dolven and Hendren advocate getting a mentor and gaining some experience. Experience will help you find a job easier once your foot is in the door.
4. Hendren suggests getting involved with a “Dietetic Practice Group like Food & Culinary Professionals (FCP) or Dietitians in Business & Communication (DBC). FCP has a subgroup specifically for dietitians who work within the restaurant industry. Use the electronic mailing list to post questions to others, look for a mentoring opportunity, or utilize other opportunities to network.”
Wondering if this career path is right for you? Dolven notes, “Working in the restaurant industry is the perfect fit for nutritionists who love food and want to exercise their culinary knowledge.” But be cautious because the industry can be fast-paced and “lightning quick,” according to Dolven. Be prepared to keep up with the required timelines and many evolutions of recipe changes. Quick piece of advice from Dolven is to embed yourself within the culinary team so you have a good, strong-working relationship with them. Hendren adds, “Building strong relationships with your culinary team and suppliers are essential to achieve key culinary initiatives that may be driven by the dietitian. For example, removing an allergen, reducing sodium and looking into clean label opportunities.”
Overall, Hendren states, “You have the opportunity to impact public health and feed millions of people every day. Having a voice in public policy can help steer new government regulations and change lives for the better.” Time to jump in now and help shape the health of Americans nationwide when dining out.