A chemist whose main goal is to alter the taste of food and produce synthetic flavors is called a flavorist. Flavorists work with a number of different chemicals in order to produce certain food flavors ranging from "butter popcorn flavor" to "artificial strawberry flavor." As with many other professions, the need for flavorists was born out of necessity.
As soon as indoor refrigeration became available to the general population, food manufacturers and consumers alike began to notice a significant problem. Processed foods did not taste the same as fresh foods. Through processing, foods simply lost a great deal of flavor, and this caused consumers to stop purchasing certain processed foods. The solution to this problem became apparent when it was discovered that the taste of food could be altered with the help of certain chemicals.
There are no specific steps that a person must take in order to become a flavorist. While many of these professionals have obtained chemistry training, most flavorists do not have any formal training at all. In fact, the position of a flavorist is frequently obtained through on-the-job training. Many of these professionals work as apprentices within flavor companies, though there is one school in France that trains future flavorists.
The Institut Supérieur International du Parfum in Versailles, France, offers a two year flavorship training program. This program provides students with basic flavorist training including the skills needed to formulate new flavors and test existing flavors. This degree is recognized around the world, and it is one of the best ways to achieve a position as a flavorist within a flavor company.
Many of the foods on store shelves today have been enhanced by a flavorist. Any product that contains artificial flavoring or coloring has gone through a flavoring process prior to being sold to consumers. While adding flavor to foods helps make processed foods taste better, some people argue that altering the flavor of a food is not beneficial. In any case, the flavorist profession is likely to keep growing as more and more foods are processed.
To begin work as a flavorist, it is a wise idea to seek an internship within a flavor company. These companies are strewn across the globe, and many of these companies frequently look for new flavorists. The position of a flavor chemist is one that's both interesting and rewarding to those who enjoy concocting new flavors and experimenting with chemistry.