Food companies and restaurant chains are constantly trying to make food products taste better or last longer, reduce their fat content, increase their fiber, or improve them in a thousand other ways. To do that, they employ research chefs and food chemists to develop new ingredients and new processes.
Research chefs -- sometimes also called product development chefs or innovation chefs -- create new foods for quick casual restaurants, fast-food chains, and large food manufacturers.
Culinology(R), a term coined by the Research Chefs Association (RCA), sums up what research chefs do as "the blending of culinary arts and the science of food". Research chefs need to understand areas such as mass production, food preservation and chemistry, and be creative in developing new foods that are responsive to trends in dining and consumer preferences (not to mention affordable for a restaurant or food company to produce).
Most research chefs hold a bachelor's degree in culinary arts, with extra classes in food science, chemistry, and sometimes business. You can also receive certification from the RCA, which requires a bachelor's degree, 3-5 years of experience in food research and the culinary arts, and a passing score on their written exam.
Hours are more standard for research chefs than for regular restaurant chefs, and travel is often necessary to do research on the latest food trends.