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Director of Culinary Development 12 views

San Francisco Bay Area

Who we are:
Founded in 2013, Thistle’s mission is to empower our customers to get and stay healthy while improving the sustainability of our food system. We deliver delicious, organic, healthy, plant-forward meals, cold-pressed juices and snacks to customers on the West Coast who want to put their nutrition on auto-pilot.
We don’t want to be just another food delivery startup. Our focus is on the health and happiness of our customers, and we are revolutionizing how fresh, nutritious, high-quality food is purchased, manufactured, and delivered at scale. 
Thistle is headquartered in San Francisco and has raised capital from the best investors in the industry, including PowerPlant Ventures – a leading investor in the plant-based space.
About the role:
The Director of Culinary Development is responsible for designing, executing, and overseeing Thistle’s Culinary R&D function.  This is an exceptional opportunity for the person in this role to take our R&D function and team to the next level with formulating, developing, and implementing menu and recipe development for multiple geographies.  This role reports to the Chief Manufacturing & Innovation Officer.
The Director of Culinary Development will lead a team of four and will have the opportunity to scale their team as Thistle expands our operations to the East Coast.  We anticipate that the person in this role will travel up to 30% of the time to our facility in Vacaville, CA, and to our new facility in New Jersey.

What you’ll do

  • Oversee and lead the Culinary R&D team and establish best practices and standards for following a new product development process, leading projects, meeting cadences, and managing the overall day-to-day workload and priorities for the team
  • Develop, plan, and manage the Culinary R&D departmental budget taking growth, scaling, and projections into account; collaborate with the Chief Manufacturing & Innovation Officer and Finance on maintaining budgets and costs in real-time as the organization scales
  • Collaborate and partner with cross-functional teams on culinary implementations to effectively bring new products to life, including Product, Marketing, Procurement, Operations, and Food Safety teams
  • Develop and maintain Culinary R&D SOPs and training programs ensuring that teams adhere to directions and protocols at all times
  • Collaborate and partner with the Procurement team to continuously source new ingredients and products, and lead the development of product specifications and evaluations
  • Build and maintain a network of external development partners, including, but not limited to ingredient suppliers  and vendor chefs to support product development and enhancements
  • Develop consistent ingredient database utilizing Galley; develop SOPs for ensuring that the system stays up to date at all times
  • Oversee test kitchen activities as an effective vehicle for experimenting with new flavors and ideas, the development of new products, and the refinement of existing menu items and products
  • Lead consistent weekly Culinary R&D meetings keeping operational teams up to date on new developments
  • Collaborate with Product and Customer Service teams to develop systems to obtain customer feedback in real-time on current and new recipes; adjust recipes accordingly in collaboration with the Culinary R&D and operations teams
  • Collaborate with Talent Acquisition and People Operations to recruit, hire, and monitor team performance
  • Maintain up-to-date knowledge and understanding of food industry laws, mandates, and R&D trends; ensure compliance with nutritional and menu item requirements(e.g. gluten-free, nutrition labeling, sodium reduction, prohibited ingredients, etc.) and implement accordingly
  • Collaborate with the Chief Manufacturing & Innovation Officer to strategically plan for recipe creation for multiple geographies across the US
  • What you’ll bring

  • 10+ years progressive experience as a Culinary R&D leader or equivalent; experience in a high-volume, start-up food manufacturing environment required
  • 7 + years as a chef with large scale production experience working with different cuisines with a background in plant-base or vegan cuisine preferred 
  • Bachelor’s degree or equivalent, preferably in Food Science & Nutrition or a related field
  • At least 5 years people management experience required; experience growing and scaling a team highly preferred
  • Demonstrated success in culinary creativity(e.g., new products and flavors) and implementing new product development processes
  • Thorough understanding of food safety and HACCP principles, including but not limited to the manufacturing and handling of protein products
  • Ability to set aggressive and achievable KPI goals for the team ensuring that deliverables are met
  • Highly organized with the ability to work in a fast-paced environment while managing multiple projects and meeting deadlines
  • Experience with ingredient optimization, nutritional analysis, commercialization and scale-up, cross-functional coordination, trend research, sensory paneling and evaluation, product demonstrations
  • Experience with project management and stage-gating processes as it relates to new product development and new product launch
  • In-depth knowledge of food product and commercialization, including quality assurance, supplier manufacturing, and processes 
  • Solid understanding of budget and expense development and management
  • Comfort with data analysis; proficiency with Excel and Google sheets required
  • Experience with developing and building new systems, scalable processes, SOPs, and training as the organization experiences rapid growth and new facilities come online
  • Tech-savvy approach; comfort with G-suite, Slack, Microsoft Office, and other platforms
  • Solid understanding of how to balance priorities and deadlines to meet the changing needs of the organization
  • Proven experience with vendor management and ingredient cost control
  • Who you are

  • A low-ego, people-first leader and an executor; you lead by example and have a proven track record of gaining the trust of your team, your business collaborators and partners, and the executive team
  • An excellent communicator; you understand that consistent communication is key and are able to convey information in real-time utilizing a variety of tech platforms and mediums
  • Have a proactive, goal-oriented approach to the work; you are able to set and achieve your KPI goals and objectives in a high-volume, high-energy, sometimes difficult to navigate, rapidly scaling organization
  • Analytical and strategic; you have a proven track record of planning and solving for now and the future; you see the“big picture”, and strategically plan and execute by collaborating and working with business partners, and analyzing data in real-time
  • Diversity, equity, and inclusion are essential values at Thistle. We know we’ll do our best and most impactful work when we feel we’re represented and we belong. We’re proud to actively recruit and hire talented people from a wide variety of backgrounds and experiences. We do not discriminate on the basis of race, religion, color, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, age, marital status, veteran status, or disability status.  You can get some deeper insight into how we approach DEI, along with some statistics on the internal demographics of the company and leadership team, here:
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    Company Information
    • Active Jobs 36 Jobs
    • Company Address San Francisco, CA, USA
    • City San Francisco
    • Location California
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