Side jobs for people who love food

Sticky chicken thighs with orange and cucumber salad.
A plate of sticky chicken thighs with orange and cucumber salad. Prop styling by Kate Parisian. Food styling by Leah Choi.
(Silvia Razgova / For The Times)

You don’t have to be a top chef to make money as a foodie. There’s a plethora of side hustles for food lovers, such as doing food photography and reviews, offering cooking classes, and working at restaurants, bars and — eventually — events.

Food photography

A recent job posting at Creatively seeks skilled cooks and food photographers to prepare and photograph recipes for Serious Eats, a website for cooks and foodies of all stripes. This side hustle is a remote freelance position, but there are some in-person gigs.

Google “jobs in food photography” in Los Angeles and you’ll get multiple results, including one from Your Super. The Venice start-up wants to hire someone who would like to “get in the kitchen and play.” The idea is to dream up, prepare and photograph recipes that include the company’s products.


Culinary reviews

Serious Eats’ parent company, Dotdash, is looking for people to review commercial kitchen equipment, paying $30 an hour to editors who can work up to 20 hours a week. It’s also advertising an opening for an editor who can update recipes, promising $25 an hour. The rapidly growing online publisher has dozens of other freelance openings supporting its food and lifestyle brands.

Making meals

The most popular side hustles for food lovers involve cooking meals for people to eat. A number of online platforms can help you cook for others for pay.

For instance, a site called DishDivvy will help you offer homemade meals for pickup. DishDivvy lets cooks price their own offerings and determine how many servings are available. The site simply books the reservations and collects payment from your customers.

What do you feel like cooking?

Jan. 25, 2019

Cooking for in-person gatherings also may be an option, depending on where you are and how long you’re willing to wait. In many places, gatherings are still prohibited or restricted because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Eatwith platform is for cooks who want to serve meals in their own homes. You create the menu and decide the dates, the price of each meal and the number of guests you can accommodate. The site will book and charge guests, adding a 13% service fee when it sells the meal online.

Meals sold here are designed to be an experience, meaning that you should make the setting elegant and charge accordingly. Chefs who have worked with this site say they can easily clear $350 to $500 per night, after expenses, for hosting what equates to a small dinner party.


In Los Angeles County, the Department of Public Health said, such an event would qualify as a private gathering.

Under current pandemic rules, “persons may visit indoors at a private residence without wearing a mask and dine together only if: (1) All attendees are fully vaccinated; or (2) Fully vaccinated people visit with unvaccinated people from a single household that does not have individuals who are at risk for severe illness,” the department said in an email. It said the event can include members of only two separate households aside from the cook’s household, with a maximum of 15 people, and should last two hours at most.

If you’re accustomed to cooking for a crowd, you may also want to sign up with EzCater, where caterers can post a menu and get bookings for corporate and individual client events.

Cooking classes

Cooking classes are also hot, thanks in part to the pandemic. A number of sites, including ChefsFeed and Cozymeal, help chefs market their cooking classes to the masses. Once again, you set the agenda and prices. Want to teach about sauces? Or how to bake bread? Prefer a taped class to livestreamed? In-person teaching to online? It’s all up to you (and your area’s pandemic safety rules).

You can also teach cooking classes with more generic teaching platforms, such as Teachable and Thinkific. But the advantage of the niche cooking sites is that all their visitors are looking for what you have to sell.

Food service

Food service personnel such as waiters and bartenders got slammed when the pandemic shut eateries. Now, as cities open up, bars and restaurants are looking to fill slots. A recent ManpowerGroup survey says the hiring outlook in hospitality and leisure is the brightest among all industry groups.


Several sites specialize in finding food service workers to fill slots. Each has slightly different advantages and disadvantages.

Jitjatjo, for instance, hires workers as W-2 employees, which means the site covers the employer portion of Social Security and Medicare taxes, saving you 7.65% of your earnings. The disadvantage: Jitjatjo is available only in a handful of major cities, mostly on the East Coast.

Qwick pays workers within hours of completing a shift, making it a good choice for those in need of quick cash. The site also encourages employers to develop relationships with the servers they like and doesn’t penalize the employers if they hire the server directly. However, Qwick also only operates in a handful of cities, including San Diego, Phoenix and Dallas.

Wonolo and Shiftgig, meanwhile, operate all over the U.S. However, workers say it’s tough to find gigs that pay much more than minimum wage. That said, bars, restaurants and all sorts of hospitality companies are starting to hire again. That’s likely to increase the number of available opportunities and eventually drive up wages.

Kristof is the editor of, an independent site that reviews hundreds of money-making opportunities in the gig economy.