R&D Chef



Vacaville, CA, USA
Posted on Wednesday, January 24, 2024
Thistle was founded in 2013 with a mission to make it easy to get and stay healthy while improving the sustainability of our food system. We deliver delicious, ready-to-eat plant-forward meals, snacks, and cold press juices to our customers’ doorsteps to empower our customers to improve personal and planetary health by eating more plants. To date we’ve delivered over 20 million nourishing meals to customers across the West and East Coast and we’re just getting started! The San Francisco Business Times named us one of the Top 100 Fastest Growing Private Companies in the Bay Area in 2023, and Inc. awarded us Best in Business in 2022 among companies that “go above and beyond” in both food and sustainability sectors.
Reporting to the Director of Culinary Development, the Chef de Cuisine, Research and Development (CDC) heads menu development, ideation, and innovation for Thistle. This role is an individual contributor that works cross-collaboratively with other roles on the Culinary Development team. The primary responsibilities include developing recipes and slating them into menu cycles to create a balanced menu with regard to popularity, operational feasibility, cost, and allergen composition.
This position is a hybrid of three days onsite and two days remote. On-site days are either in the Vacaville, CA, production facility or the Napa, CA, test kitchen. Some travel may be required for marketing events (up to 10%).


  • Lead the planning of seasonally appropriate menus that align with flavor, varietal, nutritional, operational and allergen guidelines
  • Develop and test seasonally appropriate recipes that are aligned with Thistle’s mission and values Delegate recipe development to additional stakeholders on the R&D team in order to complete your menus
  • Lead internal recipe approval tastings
  • Keep all food cost below KPIs set by Finance
  • Scale recipes in preparation for Commercialization
  • Work with Procurement to identify new products and opportunities for recipe development
  • Work with operations departments to determine new opportunities for production efficiencies
  • Lead cross-departmental tastings to propose new recipes and menus


  • High school diploma or equivalent required
  • Degree in Culinary Arts or equivalent experience preferred
  • 5+ years of experience in food service with a preference towards cooking at scale; experience in hotels or catering a plus
  • 2+ years of experience in food development (CDC or R&D Chef) with some experience in cooking for special diets (Vegan, Gluten Free, Dairy Free, etc)
  • Experience in leading small teams
  • Some experience in public speaking and cooking in front internal and external audiences
  • Familiar with large format commercial kitchen equipment (combi ovens, tilt skillets, steam kettles) Very knowledgeable in vegan and gluten free cooking and baking methods
  • Advanced knowledge of kitchen math
  • Familiarity and comfort with the Google Suite, especially Google Sheets
  • Familiar with MMS software such as Galley
We are mission-driven and share a growth mindset. We let our values guide the way we approach crafting our healthy products, solving problems, and working collaboratively together. As a Thistler, you'll help transform the health of people and the planet by living our core values every day.
Be Human: We’re always willing to learn and aim to empower the people around us.
Think Bigger: We’re here to do more today than we did yesterday, and we figure it out together.
Build the Future: We tackle every day with the positive attitude of someone who can see the future and knows how bright it is.
Make a Lot with a Little: We get creative and look for ways our resources can take us as far as possible.
Lead with Purpose: We use our mission to guide our decisions and give our work meaning.
Diversity, equity, and inclusion are essential values at Thistle. We know we do our best and most impactful work when we feel we are represented and belong. We're proud to actively recruit and hire talented people from a wide variety of backgrounds and experiences. We do not discriminate based on race, religion, color, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, age, marital status, veteran status, or disability status.