Careers In Food — Culinary Content Manager
For this month’s Careers in Food highlight, we are featuring SF Cooking Alumni Mandy Morris. Mandy is the Culinary Content Manager at June — a company with an amazing, high-tech smart oven. Below is a little about Mandy’s journey on how she landed her job and what an average day looks like for her there.
What were you doing before you went to culinary school at SF Cooking?
I spent a little more than a decade implementing enterprise software systems for corporations first as a business systems analyst, and finally as an IT project manager. Along the way I was very fortunate to have the opportunity to travel and work with people around the world. I got to experience different cultures and their cuisines and that was really the spark that got me thinking that I should try to explore a career in food. I started taking cooking classes on nights and weekends and went from there.
What’s your official title at June and can you give us a short description of what you do there?
I’m the Culinary Content Manager at June. My team is responsible for creating and maintaining the guided video cookbook that syncs with our oven to set the correct cook times and temperatures. We test and develop recipes, program automated cook-programs, as well as produce and edit videos and photos for our mobile app.
What path did you take to get this position at June? What were you doing right after graduating culinary school?
After cooking school I honestly wasn’t sure what kind of career I wanted to have in food, so I tried everything. I worked as a line cook in a Michelin-starred kitchen, an assistant food stylist, a cooking teacher, a production manager at an organic food company, and a pastry cook at a bakery. I was a freelance recipe tester and developer in my spare time. It took 3 years, but eventually I realized my passion was recipe development. I learned about the opportunity to build the digital cookbook at June through a connection at one of my previous clients where I worked on a similar recipe video project.
What misconception do people have about your job?
That I just cook and eat all day. There is more traditional office work than most people would realize. You need organizational and time management skills, and having experience with modern productivity software can really help. I never thought spreadsheets, Github, Slack, and Trello would be a part of my culinary career.
What is your favorite thing about working as a culinary content manager?
I love getting feedback from customers. Reading about or seeing pictures from customers who cook our recipes at home for their families is very rewarding.
Do you feel going to culinary school was helpful to land a job like this?
Without a doubt. There’s no way I could have landed my job at June without going to culinary school. It gave me the fundamental skills and confidence to pursue this path.
What does your average day consist of?
I don’t have an average day per se. The workflow of my team is driven by our content creation process which culminates in a week-long video and photo shoot where we will shoot 30–35 recipes. If we aren’t filming then depending on where we are in the process I could be researching and developing new recipes or programming and validating unpublished cook-programs. I also spend time meeting with different teams across the company, working on cross-functional projects.
What are some other positions you work closely with at June? Since our product is an oven I work with teams across the company. I work with marketing to decide which recipes to promote and develop. I work with customer support to answer questions about recipes or cooking from customers. I work with the software and design teams to include culinary work into new software updates. Since the June is a smart oven we send new or updated features through over-the-air software updates.
What would be your advice to someone who wants to have a career in recipe and development?
Never be afraid to ask questions or ask for help. Get as much cooking experience as possible. No matter how tedious or mundate a cooking task or recipe can be, it will be useful to you one day. When I was working in a bakery, dog biscuits was one of the items I was responsible for. I had to make 6 pound batches and punch out these dog bones by hand. I didn’t have a dog and would have never thought to make these on my own. Fast forward to my current job at June. Marketing wanted collateral for National Dog Day. Luckily I had plenty of experience creating dog biscuits!
I think the turning point for me as a recipe developer was when I learned to focus not on what I was interested in, but what target audiences were interested in. The possibilities are endless when creating recipes and it can be overwhelming. Focusing on who the recipes are for helped me write better recipes without sacrificing creativity. The constraints actually unlocked my creativity, which is the opposite of what I think most people would assume.
Special guest on set for the Milk Bone Dog Treats recipe, Whiskey the Goldendoodle