The Definition of Gourmet: Food, People, and Places

A Chef Putting The Final Touches on a Gourmet Meal. andresr/E+/Getty Images

Add the word gourmet to any food or drink and voila, it feels fancier, more upscale and generally more desirable. But gourmet is less about the food than it is about the person who is the subject of the word. Gourmet, pronounced gore-may, is a term for a food connoisseur. Gourmets are also known as foodies.

The Five-Star Treatment

Food isn't just food when it comes to gourmet. Gourmet refers to food, a person and a restaurant or place where one can have food and drink.

The three things that define gourmet are:

  1. Someone who is a connoisseur of good food and drink.
  2. Gourmet food is of the highest quality and flavor, prepared well and presented in an artful manner.
  3. A gourmet restaurant or grocery store is one considered to serve or sell the highest quality food and ingredients.

What Is Gourmet Food?

Gourmet food connotes food and drink that takes extra care to make or acquire. Gourmet food has a certain flair as it is usually found or made only in certain locations. The ingredients used are usually exotic, hard to find in regular grocery stores and usually unique in flavor and/or texture. Gourmet ingredients usually blend herbs and spices in an interesting manner or add flavor to foods that are usually not flavored. For example, lemon olive oil spray,  black truffle balsamic glaze, and Calvi white wine vinegar are unique takes on otherwise simple ingredients.

What Is a Gourmet: The Person?

A gourmet doesn't see food as a means to an end.

To them, food is art. Some people refer to gourmets as into edible luxury. Gourmets enjoy the experience of eating, making and/or displaying food. Some even explore the history and anthropology of the foods they eat. A gourmet takes time and care in preparing food and usually eat food slowly. Gourmets frequent places that offer extra information about a food's origin and one where ingredients or likely all organic, foods are not processed and the food is served in a luxurious manner.

What Is a Gourmet Restaurant or Grocery Store?

Gourmet restaurants and grocery stores carry the highest quality foods the world has to offer. They go to great lengths to make foods that are not readily available. They also have foods that challenge the palate or those that offer a twist from a traditional dish. For example, a gourmet mac and cheese may use gruyere, a cheese that is almost exclusively made in France and Switzerland. A gourmet beef dish, such as Crab-Stuffed Filet Mignon with Whiskey Peppercorn Sauce is gourmet because the sauce and stuffing are unique and challenge the taste of filet mignon on its own.