Adventures in the Specialty Food Trade: A Unique Culinary Career

by Sonja Albrecht
CulinaryEd Columnist
May 19, 2011

In an era of mass production, it's good to know there's still a place for Imperial Reserve caviar from the Caspian sturgeon Acipensur persicus. If you can distinguish Sel Gris de I'lle de Re sea salt from Morton's, you might have a taste for a specialty food career.

Prospects for Adventurous Foodies

According to the National Association for the Specialty Food Trade, the demand for 'haute' grocery has soared since 2002. "Specialty foods are a vibrant and growing industry," says Ron Tanner of the NASFT. "People are interested in buying quality food with a certification and with a personality."

This trend may expand in the next decade, as 2011's young people gain purchasing power. Specialty Food Magazine notes that this web-savvy generation "possesses a sense of adventure and interest in other cultures." They gravitate toward exotic cuisines and "innovative, high quality, healthful" products.

An Example in Action: Trader Joe's Travels

Joe Coulombe, AKA Trader Joe, built his food career around the theme of culinary adventure. Hoping to "turn a mundane shopping trip into a treasure hunt," he stocked his store's shelves with obscure brands and exotic foods. On the principle that people are more apt to try new things while traveling, he outfitted his staff with Hawaiian shirts and his stores with nautical decor and cedar plank walls.

Education for the Road: A Culinary MBA

Wondering what kind of culinary school education to pursue for a specialty food career? Many culinary schools offer a business culinary master's program, essentially an MBA for culinary professionals. Keep an eye out for a business culinary master's program that caters specifically to the food retail industry; many school programs slant toward hospitality careers. A specialty food business student should make an effort to learn about business and entrepreneurship, and perhaps to network with industry professionals. If you want to turn culinary school training and food wanderlust into a career, a business culinary master's program can help you get there.


  1. Dean & Deluca
  2. Specialtyfood.com
  3. Gourmet Retailer
  4. Gourmet News
  5. National Association for the Specialty Food Trade (NASFT)
  6. Trader Joe's

About the Author

Sonja Albrecht works as a writer and editor for an online media company. She has also taught college writing and completed a Ph.D. in English.
Culinary Art Schools
Refine School Matches
Hide filters
  • SUBJECT Clear All

    See More


    See More



    Please enter valid US or Canada Zip.
            Results open in new window

            Showing schools in your area

            Matching School Ads
            Culinary Arts
            • Received the 2015 and 2013 “Cooking School of the Year” Award of Excellence from the International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP).
            • Accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC).
            • Externship opportunities are available at numerous famous New York City restaurants.
            • Campus is located near downtown Manhattan, within walking distance of many popular attractions such as the Radio City Music Hall.
            Show more [+]
            • Accredited
            • Flexible Scheduling
            • Financial Aid
            Professional Culinary Arts
            • Hands-on culinary education with focused attention on each student
            • An ACCSC School of Excellence with multiple “Best Vocational Cooking School” awards*
            • 15,000 graduates, including celebrities like Bobby Flay, David Chang, and Christina Tosi*
            • Programs in Culinary Entrepreneurship, Professional Culinary Arts, Professional Pastry Arts, and much more
            • Campuses in New York and Silicon Valley with nearby housing available
            Show more [+]
            Culinary Arts
            Good for Working Adults

            The goal of Virginia College lies in its responsibility to its students, the technical and business communities, and the general citizenry. We have a long history of offering new direction to students.

            • Accredited
            • Flexible Scheduling
            • Financial Aid
            • Transferable Credits
            AAS Degree in Culinary Arts
            • Culinary Arts program includes the 3-week Farm To Table® Experience, where students gain a direct, in-depth look at where food comes from.
            • Numerous scholarship opportunities and financial aid are available to students who qualify.
            • Accreditation from the Accrediting Council for Continuing Education and Training (ACCET), and the Council on Occupational Education (COE).
            • 2 campuses located in Boulder, Colorado and Austin, Texas.
            Show more [+]
            • Accredited
            • Flexible Scheduling
            • Financial Aid
            Associate of Science in Culinary Arts

            Since 1977, Keiser University has maintained a practical, hands-on approach to career-focused education to help our students achieve their personal and professional goals.  Our student-centered approach remains at the foundation of the Keiser University mission and continues to attract students who prefer a more personal learning experience. 

            • Accredited
            • Flexible Scheduling
            • Financial Aid
            • Transferable Credits
            Culinary Arts and Food Services
            Good for Working Adults
            • Has been training students in the culinary arts since 1946.
            • Teaches hands-on culinary training in French, Asian, Mediterranean, Latin and American cooking, along with professional baking and pastry techniques.
            • Helps students gain professional skills in culinary management.
            • Offers an Italian Culinary Arts program where students get to externship in Italy.
            • Its instructors are respected chefs who put their dedication and life experiences into their instruction.
            Show more [+]
            • Accredited
            • Flexible Scheduling
            • Financial Aid
            Culinary Arts
            Get the experience you need to succeed in the exciting and fast growing culinary field at Keiser University - Center for Culinary Arts. We offer the flexibility of day or evening classes, experienced faculty, and small class sizes for plenty of personalized attention. Internship opportunities and financial aid are available for students who qualify.
            Search Schools Near You
            Subject :
            Degree :
            Zip Code :
            Culinary Articles
            10 Colleges with Delicious Dining Hall Food
            Forget boring college cafeteria dining: campus food can be both healthy and delicious. Here's a look at 10 colleges where you might actually enjoy getting your grub on.
            Four International Cuisines Influencing the American Foodscape
            Ethnic cuisines are an integral part of America's culinary landscape, and none more so than these perennial favorites.
            5 Ethnic Cuisines for Serious Foodies
            Love food? Want to broaden your culinary horizons? These five international cuisines might be an excellent starting place.
            Healthy home cooked meals can improve health, longevity and family social community
            Read how cooking at home rather than eating out can help you live longer, reduce the risk of cancer and improve family dynamics. Not only has cooking at home become the hip choice, it's also become the smart choice.