What Does Gourmet Mean

A chef putting the final touches on a gourmet meal

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Gourmet (pronounced gor-MAY) refers to high-end food, a person who appreciates that food, or a restaurant or place where you can buy or prepare it. In general, the term gourmet is less about the food than it is about the person who is the subject of the word.

What is Gourmet?

Adding the word gourmet to any food or drink makes it feel upscale and generally more desirable. It is often it is wrongly overused. Here are some correct ways to accurately use the term. In brief, the term gourmet may refer to:

  • Someone who is a connoisseur of good food and drink.
  • Food of the highest quality and flavor, prepared with precision and presented in an artful manner.
  • A restaurant and its chefs where food is prepared and served with the highest quality standards.
  • A store that stocks and sells high-quality, unique, or hard-to-find ingredients needed to prepare gourmet dishes.
  • A kitchen that is well-appointed with professional-grade appliances and storage areas for specialty items and equipment.

What Is a Gourmet?

A gourmet doesn't see food as a means to an end. To a gourmet, food is art. Such a food enthusiast is into edible luxury. Gourmets enjoy the experience of eating, making, or displaying food. Some even explore the history and the anthropology of the foods they eat. A gourmet takes time and care in preparing food and usually eats food slowly. Gourmets frequent places that offer extra information about a food's origin, have ingredients of top quality, prepare foods from scratch, and serve dishes in a luxurious manner. The person you may have called a gourmet years ago might today be called a "foodie."

What Is Gourmet Food?

Gourmet food refers to food and drink that takes extra care to make or acquire. Gourmet food is often found or made only in certain locations, and its ingredients may be unusual, hard to find in regular grocery stores, only be available in limited amounts, rarely exported outside of their place of origin, or available only for short times of the year. Some, such as truffles, must be wild harvested and can't be cultivated. These foods often are unique in flavor or texture.

Gourmet ingredients may 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.

You will find gourmet ingredients in a gourmet section of a grocery store or in stand-alone gourmet stores. For example, some grocery stores have typical cheeses in the dairy aisle but have a gourmet cheese section for higher-quality and imported cheeses.

A gourmet store will often stock ingredients of the highest quality from around the world, thanks to special contacts that help import foods that otherwise are not readily available in the area. You may be able to work with the store to acquire ingredients by request. In addition, such stores often stock the equipment needed to prepare gourmet dishes.

What Are a Gourmet Restaurant and Chef?

Gourmet restaurants prepare dishes from the highest quality ingredients with impeccable technique. They can serve food that challenges the palate or offers a twist from a traditional dish. For example, gourmet mac and cheese may use Gruyere, a cheese that is almost exclusively made in France and Switzerland. A 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.

A gourmet chef has a very high level of skill in preparing food and making good use of the finest ingredients. The chef may be talented in creating new dishes and using innovative techniques. Skill in the presentation of food on the plate also defines a gourmet chef.

What Is a Gourmet Kitchen?

A gourmet kitchen will have professional-grade appliances and fixtures, often conveniently arranged for ease of food preparation. For example, it may have a six-burner gas stovetop and dual ovens plus a warming drawer, with a powerful ventilating hood and a pot-filler faucet over the range. The cabinetry can provide convenient storage for appliances, tools, and pantry items. A gourmet kitchen also has enough counter space for food preparation tasks.