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What Is Gourmet Food?

While you likely heard the term gourmet use in connection with a kind of food, you may not be able to place your finger on what exactly defines gourmet food. What makes a gourmet dish different from a regular one?

For some people, it’s the price tag, but that’s not what the definition is all about. For others, gourmet food denotes where it comes from. If it comes from a fancy restaurant, it must be gourmet food. That doesn’t really nail down the definition either.

Gourmet Defined

The actual definition of gourmet food characterizes it as any food that has been specifically prepared to offer a very pleasing taste and food that is made of a high-quality. Some people will pair the two of these qualifiers together, whereas others will say that either one of them could denote gourmet food.

If you go with the latter notion of gourmet, then any food that is made very well can be considered gourmet food. That means pancakes made with expertise can be considered gourmet pancakes.

The same definition holds that any food made specifically to give a pleasing taste to the person eating it can be considered gourmet, so a delicious cheeseburger might be defined as a gourmet cheeseburger just because it tastes very good and was designed to taste good.

Does that all sound kind of ephemeral? If so, then you understand the problem of trying to define gourmet food. In many instances, the definition is in the eye of the beholder.

Perhaps the person eating it or preparing the food may determine whether that food is truly gourmet or not. The food might be prepared in a method that the chef may consider gourmet, but the person eating it may consider the food to be of poor quality or unpleasing taste. In their eyes, it may not qualify as gourmet.

Gourmet could be considered any food that is high end. That would typically mean it comes with a hefty price tag because it’s made with quality ingredients and made by an experienced chef or food artisan.

You would expect a gourmet food to be made with great care, precision, and skill, and you would expect it to be flavorful and pleasing to your palate. These are the kinds of expectations that restaurants will play on when they advertise their food as being gourmet.

The word and the idea of gourmet bring certain connotations to mind. You probably think that food listed as being gourmet is better than food that isn’t, and while that can be the case, it’s not always true.

Gourmet as a Marketing Term

The notion of gourmet food has been co-opted by eating establishments that are savvy about what their customers are looking for. They know that people will pay more for something that’s listed as gourmet and may be less likely to complain about a high price tag.

Unscrupulous business owners may take the same food they were offering at a low price and simply slap a gourmet label on it to charge more for it. It’s been known to happen, and it’s something that consumers should be aware of.

You may find gourmet used as a promise of quality, flavor, and skill. In other words, gourmet is sometimes used as the customer satisfaction guarantee. You know that when you eat at a gourmet restaurant or eat a gourmet dish, you’re going to experience something of exceptional quality or perhaps something that is made with great skill.

People expect gourmet food to be made by someone who has years of experience at making that particular dish. They become an expert in that area, qualifying any food of that sort that they make as gourmet.

Using gourmet as an advertising term can give the consumer the idea that the food will be very tasty and bursting with flavor. It gives the notion that the seasonings and spices used were carefully selected, freshly picked, thoughtfully sourced, and professionally applied.

When you bite into a dish that is classified as gourmet, you expect it to have plenty of flavor. You would be disappointed if it were bland or lacking flavor.

All of this is not to say that gourmet is a term that’s always used deceptively or in the wrong way. Many restaurants simply use the word gourmet to tell their customers that they can expect their food to be very high-quality. They are setting themselves apart from other restaurants with regular, non-gourmet food and letting their customers know that any food they get from their gourmet restaurant will be to their liking.

If you are preparing to open a restaurant or offer food that you consider to be of exceptional quality, or you consider your cooking skills to be high end, it wouldn’t be wrong to classify your food as gourmet.

All this would fit very well with the accepted definition of the word, and if your food really is exceptional, you probably won’t get any complaints about using the term gourmet to describe it.

Making Gourmet Food

So, how do you go about making gourmet food on your own? First of all, you’re going to need quality ingredients. The best of the best is required for gourmet cooking. Buying high end food is a great first step towards making gourmet dishes. Fresh, quality ingredients are key to making food that someone would consider gourmet.

You may want to shop at stores that are known for their high-end food. You may also want to buy foods when they are in peak season, which would be when they are considered at their ripest, tastiest, and highest level of quality.

The other component required for gourmet food is skilled food preparation. The way you dress the food, cook it, slice it, and garnish it all contribute to whether that food is gourmet or not.

For some dishes, it may take you many attempts to make something that would be considered gourmet. To get your skill to that level where it is gourmet quality food you’re making can take a long time. Plenty of practice goes in to making gourmet food, and you may have to spend a long time on a single dish to get it just right.

Part of making gourmet food is the way you present your dishes. Presentation is key to making gourmet food actually look gourmet. It’s not enough to know how to make food taste good; you also have to know how to make it look good. How it’s arranged on the plate, how the other foods on the platter are arranged in cooperation with one another, your use of colors, the garnishes you choose, and other factors all contribute to the presentation.

A gourmet chef is an artist, not just in the way they work with food in the pan but also how they place it on the plate. The level of precision needed to make gourmet food elevates it above conventional dishes.

It’s little wonder, then, that gourmet food is considered so prestigious and those who make it can charge exorbitant prices. People are willing to pay more for something that’s considered high-quality and that looks appealing.

Written by Pauline

I'm Pauline, a mother of four grown children, my passion for cooking stemmed from the joy i get cooking for my family. I love to try new dishes, especially when dining out but creating and sharing my own recipes is my favourite thing to do!

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