Dwarf salt masters
"You are taking ALL of it to store away for later? Can't we eat some of it now and taste the food fresh?" -Every dwarf at one point in their livesdwarves usually live in the mountains because they find the presence of stone near them to be comforting, and a dwarf's stereotypical career is a stone mason, miner, or blacksmith, but it is hard to swing a pick or hammer accurately if you are hungry. Even with an active group of dwarf rangers hunting and foraging, even with trade with humans and elves, even after securing life stones, even with underground fish hatcheries and fungus farms, it is difficult to secure enough food in the mountains and underground. Very few mortals in Scarterra are wont to waste food, but in dwarf society, wasting food is often a literally criminal act. dwarves are used to harsh winters and long sieges, so whenever dwarves have a windfall of food, it is important to store it safely and ration it carefully. Salt masters are the dwarves that see to this task.
"When times are good, the people call us misers. When times are lean, they call us as saviors. This is why we must be harsh during good times to make sure there is enough to go around during the lean times." -Salt Master GrardolBesides careful rationing, it is important to make sure stored food is safe. A large store of food is worthless if it's despoiled by rats or goblins. It is common that salt masters will establish food vaults with the tightest seals that magical and mundane stone shapers can craft. As the name suggests, it is very common for dwarves to pack their food in salt, but this is not the only thing salt masters do. Salt masters smoke, salt, and dry food of course. They will seek out cold naturally places to store provisions or they craft artificial ice boxes. Some of them dabble in alchemy to study alchemical food preservation techniques and salt masters that work for wealthy clients may have limited access to magical methods of food preservation such as invokers creating ice. While the salt masters do have a guild, the guild is in place to ensure high professional standards and not to play politics. Even in Stahlheim where the guild masters routinely play puppet masters to the nobles, salt masters are expected to be apolitical. To do otherwise would bring dishonor on their noble profession.
Salt masters need to know at least the basics of culinary arts for at least a basic understanding of the food they safeguard. They need to know a little bit of stern diplomacy to work with the various dwarf professions who collect food and to deal with would-be food critics. Dwarf salt masters commonly work with kalazotz on a more routine basis than most other dwarves so many make it point to learn to speak Zocatec.
Apprentices typically get put to work salting and drying food. They often get saddled with grunt tasks of carrying loads of food from Point A to Point B (and this of course builds character). Journeyman work on more exotic methods of food preservation such as alchemy and iceboxes, nd above all they secure the food vaults. Journeymen also act as middle men to the other links of the dwarven food supply chain. Journeyman will coordinate with dwarf hunters and fisherman as well as outside traders. Master level salt master coordinate the whole show running logistics and managing the ledgers and inventories. They are the ones who decide which food gets released to which people, so angering them is a bad idea if you don't want to get stuck with gruel and hardtack for every meal.
Payment & Reimbursement
Salt masters are paid well, but they are rewarded with coin not food. Given that everyone wants access to the tastiest food, it is very easy to imagine a situation where salt masters leverage their position to extort favors out of the rest of dwarf society. To avoid this, salt master guild leaders work hard to foster a strong sense of ethics and patriotism. Guild leaders vigorously screen the moral character of would-be new recruits. Dwarf elders in general are infamous for giving younger dwarves unpleasant task "to build their character" but salt master elders take this to an extreme. Salt masters are expected to not show favoritism to themselves or to their friends. If an apprentice is caught taking a "free sample" of the best food without permission, they are given a stern warning. On the second offense, they are typically thrown in the stocks. On the third offense, they are expelled from the salt masters and will almost assuredly have a hard time finding new employment with the stigma of their dishonor hanging over their head.
Salt masters are paid fairly well but the main reason dwarves seek to be salt masters is that they are given a lot of respect and admiration by society at large though a salt master who abuses his or her position is the lowest of the low.
To make sure there is enough food for everyone.
It is a high status job because every dwarf understands this job is very important but the salt masters face a lot of derision. Whenever there is mandatory rationing, it is tempting to shoot the messenger and blame the stingy salt masters. It is also common to complain about them being too paranoid or stingy.
Men and women are about equally likely to enter this profession. While salt masters work with gnomes and kalazotz often, non-dwarf salt masters are rare. It is very common for dwarf clans to become associated with a single trade, but this has not happened with salt masters. In order to avoid favoritism or even the appearance of favoritism, salt masters try to recruit new apprentices from many different clans.