A flavorist, also known as flavor chemist, is someone who uses chemistry to engineer artificial and natural flavors. The tools and materials used by flavorists are almost the same as that used by perfumers with the exception that flavorists seek to mimic or modify both the olfactory and gustation properties of various food products rather than creating just abstract smells. As well, the materials and chemicals that a flavorist utilizes for flavor creation must be safe for human consumption.
Flavorists, as profession, came about when affordable refrigeration for the home spurred a major growth of food processing technology. Processes used in the food industry to provide safe products often affect the quality of the flavor of the food. To the detriment of the manufacturer, these technologies remove most of the naturally occurring flavors. To remedy the flavor loss, the food processing industry created the flavor industry. The chemists that tackled the demand of the food processing industry became known as flavorists, and, thus, the flavor industry was born.
Today, the vast majority of everything we eat now includes natural flavors or artificial flavors developed by a relatively elite and small group of trade professionals.
Educational requirements for the profession known as flavorist are varied. Flavorists may have had little or no formal education up to PhDs obtained in subjects such as Biochemistry and Chemistry. Because, however, the training of a flavorist is mostly done on-the-job and specifically at a flavor company known as a flavor house, this training is similar to the apprentice system.
Located in Versailles (France), ISIPCA French School offers two years of high-standard education in food flavoring including 12 months traineeship in a flavor company. This education program provides students with solid background in flavor formulation, flavor application, and flavor chemistry (analysis and sensory).
In the United States, a flavorist can join the Society of Flavor Chemists, which meets in New Jersey, Cincinnati, Chicago, and the West Coast 6 to 8 times a year. To be an apprentice flavorist in the society, one must pass an apprenticeship within a flavor house for five years. To be a certified member with voting rights, one must pass a seven-year program. Each level is verified by a written and oral test of the Membership Committee. As an alternative to training under a flavorist, rather than the above mentioned cases, a 10-year independent option is available.
In the United Kingdom, a flavorist can join The British Society of Flavourists, which meets near the London area. To acquire membership, applicants must be sponsored by at least two voting members, shall not be under thirty years of age, and shall have been engaged as a creative flavourist for a period of at least ten years. To be an associate member, applicants must be either a full-time creative flavourist with at least four years' experience, a flavour application chemist, or a food technologist responsible for flavor blending, assessment, and evaluation for a period of at least five years, or a person of such standing in the flavor-producing or using industries as satisfies the Membership Committee that he/she is eligible for membership. An Associate Member must be proposed by two voting members. To be a student member, the applicant must be a new entrant to the flavor industry, not yet able to qualify as an Associate, and proposed by one voting member. To be an affiliate member, applicants must be Technical and Marketing Consultants, Commercial and Technical Managers having a direct relationship to the flavoring industry, and sponsored by three voting members.