Inspiring Food Careers

From developing quiche and canapes for Waitrose and Tesco, to working for Heston Blumenthal and Charlie Bigham - Claire Gibbs tells us about her exciting food career to date!

National Careers Week 2024 - Focusing on food!

It's National Careers Week (4-9 March 2024) and we are showcasing some of the fantastic career opportunities in food. Read on to find out about Claire Gibbs' inspiring food career journey - from developing quiche and canapes for Waitrose and Tesco, to working for Heston Blumenthal and Charlie Bigham! 

What qualifications do you have?

GCSEs and A Levels including Food Technology. BSC Hons degree in Food and Consumer Studies from Sheffield Hallam University

What does your job involve?

I manage and implement strategic plans for the Development and Innovation teams across two kitchens.  Responsible for a team of Chefs, Managers, and Technologists providing innovation for the brand alongside quality improvements to current dishes, processes, ingredients, sourcing standards, and equipment.   As a member of the Senior Leadership Team, I am responsible for directing the overall strategy and management of the Quarry Kitchen. Providing strong leadership, coaching, and mentoring to the team, defining its purpose, and setting out team values. 

What, or who, inspired you to take your chosen career pathway?

I’ve always had a passion for food, cooking with my Gran from an early age. As a family we used to eat out a lot, as my mum didn’t enjoy cooking, and so I tried different cuisines in my teens. Initially, I wanted to train as a chef, and loved doing dinner parties for my parents, but very quickly realised how hard this path was, and so decided to work towards studying something food related at university.

What route did you take from leaving school to your current job?

After leaving school, I went to university to study Food and Consumer Studies, a course I adored, as it combined food science and the consumer perspective. I applied for a placement year in the Development team in an M&S Food to Go sandwich factory, where I learnt what Development teams do; from concept through to launch of a new product. This was a real eye-opener for me, I finally understood how food products got on to the shelves of the supermarkets! After finishing university, I got a job as a Technologist developing quiche and canapes for Waitrose and Tesco. I then moved to London and joined Greencore, developing sandwiches, salads and sushi for all the major supermarkets. After 8 years I had the opportunity to join The Fat Duck restaurant heading up the Heston Blumenthal Brand, working with partners such as Waitrose, Bloomsbury Publishing, Renegade Production Company, British Airways, and Precision by Salter. I managed the creative development of food dishes, recipes, products, and equipment, working alongside the Fat Duck chefs and external partners. I realised I missed manufacturing and joined Charlie Bigham’s over 10 years ago, and that’s where I am today, having developed and launched over 60 different dishes, loving every minute of my job, making delicious food, day in day out.

What is the key knowledge, skills and experience needed for your job?

A strong passion for food. A creative and curious mind. Energy and enthusiasm for improvement at every step of the way. Working collaboratively with other teams to provide the best solutions.

What is the best thing about your job?

Working with passionate and incredibly talented people, all with the sole aim of creating delicious food, for people to enjoy at home. I love to walk into the supermarket and stand at the Bigham’s shelves to watch people pick up our food to take home. I also love meeting and working with our key ingredient suppliers.

What questions are you often asked about your job?

Is Charlie a real person? (Yes, he is!). What is my favourite dish we make (Chicken Jalfrezi and Pilau Rice).

What advice would you offer to someone interested in doing what you do?

Read, learn, eat, travel, be curious about all aspects of food!! Take any opportunity to speak with people about food and the food industry. Offer to work in restaurants at weekends, or save up to visit new foody places, they don’t have to be top end.


Useful careers resources

Take a look at some of our careers resources below, including case studies, a webinar recording and poster.

You can find our full range of careers resource, here.

Careers in food poster

A classroom poster to showcase the variety of career opportunities available in the food industry.

Graduate Engineer

Aaya Mohammed, ADM Milling Ltd

Nutrition Manager

Beth Hooper explains their job role as a nutrition manager for Nestle.

Head of Food & Sustainability

Claire Gibbs, Charlie Bigham’s


Sarah Wallace, University Hospital Coventry & Warwickshire

Executive Chef Lecturer

Gary Maclean, City of Glasgow College

Bakery Apprentice

Jordan Bradley

Butchery Apprentice

Annie Jones

Apprenticeships in the food industry (Video recording)

Frances is joined by a panel from around the UK, sharing their knowledge of apprenticeships in food

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