Flavor chemists examine the characteristics of proteins, fats, starches, carbohydrates, natural flavors, and other components. They determine the role each component has in a particular flavor or food and explore how that role is affected by additives. Flavor chemists develop flavors that remain sharp even when put through various methods of food preparation such as processing, freezing, cooking, or boiling.
Essential oils, plant extracts, aroma chemicals, natural flavors, and artificial ingredients are all manipulated by flavor chemists to develop new flavors. Flavor chemists can create flavors that smell better, have a more distinct taste, and last longer than natural flavors. They can also reformulate flavors so they don't irritate consumers' allergies.
Before flavor chemists can enhance a natural flavor, they must first recreate the natural flavor in the lab. To do this, flavor chemists are reliant on previous research from flavor chemists who figured out the chemical makeup of a majority of naturally-occurring flavors. The research enables flavor chemists to use various mathematical formulas that indicate how much of certain substances must be blended together to achieve certain characteristics.
People want to eat food that's pleasing to their palate, and a flavor chemist's job is to fulfill that desire by experimenting with various foods and extracts.
Students interested in creating flavors for a living should consider earning a bachelor's degree, or even a master's, in a subject such as chemistry, food science or biology.