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Dream Job: $10,000 to Be a 'Culinary Ambassador'

Wednesday, 10 Nov 2010 | 11:00 AM ET

Do you consider eating to be one of your "skills"?

Eric Justice
Courtesy of P.F. Chang's China Bistro
Eric Justice

Can you explain the finer nuances of the eggroll?

Well, this next dream job is for you.

The Pei Wei Asian Dinerchain, owned by P.F. Chang’s, is looking for a "culinary ambassador" — a writer to travel with their executive chef through Asia for three weeks while he looks for inspiration for new dishes and document the experience.

“We want to show our guests how we get that inspiration and see those things first and how they translate into something they eat,” Executive Chef Eric Justice said.

Taking a page out of other “dream jobs” like the island caretaker joband wine blogger job, the company is holding a contest, where they’re asking applicants to submit a brief bio, a blog entry on a topic determined by the company and a few additional blog posts. Like those jobs, the pay is attractive — $10,000 for three weeks — though with this one, there won’t be a public vote — it will all be decided by a panel that includes Justice.

The person doesn’t have to be a food expert but they should have a passion for food, Justice says, and most importantly — know how to describe it vividly.

They’ll tour five countries — Thailand, Vietnam, China, Japan and Korea. They’ll eat everything from street food to five-star cuisine and meet everyone from rural farmers to cutting-edge chefs.

The writer’s job will be, not only to eat, but then document the trip with blog posts, Facebook updates, tweets and YouTube videos.

Justice said he hopes the contest highlights the level of quality and diligence the company puts into its dishes.

“The level of quality is two to three times what we charge guests,” Justice explains.

He’s been doing inspiration trips like this for years; their mango chicken dish was inspired by walking through the food markets of Bangkok — though it wasn’t based on any dish he ate, but rather the overall experience.

“There are unbelievably bright colors,” he recalls. “Everything is light, bright and aromatic … lemongrass, kaffir lime and Thai basil.”

Their carmel chicken with salad slaw on top was inspired by a visit to Vietnam.

“It’s hot, cold, fresh and savory at the same time,” he said, adding that Vietnamese carmel is nothing like the gooey carmel we know in the U.S., but more like burnt sugar.

In addition to being passionate about food and able to put that passion into words, Justice said the writer is going to need to be able to handle the fast, intense pace of the trip.

“There’s a lot going on,” Justice explained. “It’s like Disneyland on steroids everywhere you look!”

And, be prepared to eat a lot — Justice said the last time he was in Thailand, they tried 50 dishes in one day.

Aspiring “culinary ambassadors” can apply at www.peiwei.com/blogasia through Dec. 20. The winner will be announced the week of Jan. 17 and the trip begins in late February.

It starts with a nice, crispy burst, followed by a cabbage bouquet …

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  • Cindy Perman is a writer at CNBC.com, covering jobs, real estate, retirement and personal finance.

  • Based in Los Angeles, Jane Wells is a CNBC business news reporter and also writes the Funny Business blog for CNBC.com.

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