An American university in a state known for its cheddar is hiring for a remarkably cheesy position.
On June 2, The University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Center for Dairy Research opened up applications for a job you’ve got to see to brie-lieve: a descriptive sensory panelist. The lucky person who secures the position in the College of Agricultural & Life Sciences will spend their days tasting and describing the unctuousness, creaminess, sharpness and more of all sorts of dairy products.
“The Center for Dairy Research is looking for individuals passionate about all types of foods, but especially cheese, pizza and other dairy products,” writes the Center for Dairy Research in the job posting. “Once hired, we will train you to become part of a group of expert tasters capable of verbally describing their sensory experience on the basis of appearance, texture, taste and aroma attributes for research and product development purposes.”
A sensory panelist is trained to evaluate and express all aspects of consuming food items including its taste, flavor and texture. Sensory analysis translates the wishes of a consumer base into the overall recipe of a food item. This often comes into play when a company wants to test a new flavor of chip, ice cream and more. In the simplest possible terms, your job is to distinguish the “ew” from the “yum.”
Folks fantasizing about grubbing on pepperoni with extra mozzarella all day long should know that this is an actual job with real responsibilities. According to the CDR, panelists should expect to be tasting up to 24 cheese samples and 12 pizzas a week, along with other food products.
In addition to describing a range of food products “in terms of appearance, texture, aroma, and flavor,” applicants should be able to recognize and learn these attributes and evaluate them accurately and reliably. The job listing says that previous sensory panelist experience is preferred, but don't let that dissuade you. Brie-lieve in yourself.
The job also involves participating in descriptive panel discussions as well as training discussions which focus on product attributes, entering their scoring data into electronic ballots, actively participating in panelist performance monitoring studies, taste acuity rescreenings and more. It’s not all fun and gameyness, folks.
Although scheduled hours will vary according to the posting, panelists will need to make themselves available for sessions which last three hours consecutively and up to three sessions per week. At nine hours a week, this makes it a part-time gig, thankfully, since no digestive tract could handle a job like this full-time.
Still, at $15 an hour and more cheese than you can shake a mozzarella stick at, it seems like a grate gig. Since the position requires work to be performed in-person, there is no remote cheese-tasting option.
The job posting notes that the position “has the possibility to be extended based on need and/or funding” which means you could be chewing on Camembert, caciocavallo and Colby for years to come.
While the position is required to be on-site at a designated campus work location, the university’s campus is located in scenic lakeside Madison, Wisconsin, so you will have plenty of opportunity to walk all the cheese off.