What Makes Gourmet Food "Gourmet?"

Well, the the title pretty much asks the whole question, but to expand; At what point does a (for example) burger become gourmet?
If I personally pick out, slaughter, grind, and cook my own meat to perfection, is it gourmet even though I’m not a chef? Is a Quarter-Pounder cooked using McDonald’s supplies and equipment, but by a two-star Michelin chef, gourmet? Is it exotic ingredients or unusual combinations that make something gourmet?
I’m not a frequent “fine dining” person; I’m more comfortable in a cheap diner. Somehow, I’ve found myself in many “starred” restaurants, and the food was good, but wasn’t a life-changing experience, or even that memorable.
I’ve had Otoro Tuna, prepped by a master sushi chef; It was delicious, but all he did was slice it. I know it took skill and knowledge to do it correctly, but if he used a lesser type, would it have still been “gourmet?”
Honestly, I’m not trying to insult gourmets, gourmands, or even “foodies.” I’m just curious what makes food gourmet. Is it ingredients, ingredient combinations, equipment, skill of the cook/chef, or some combination of the above?

Thanks in advance - DESK

Basically, food is gourmet if at no step during its creation no one ever decided ‘eh, that’s good enough.’ The best ingredients (this doesn’t necessarily mean the most expensive or the most rare, but there’s a correlation), prepared by someone that knows how to treat them.

Excellent ingredients prepared by an incompetent cook are just a waste.
Cheap/readily available ingredients prepared by an expert cook is Grandma. :smiley:

Did you pay 6-10 times more than it would cost elsewhere? It’s gourmet.

Today I made me a burger fried in bacan grease. Topped with bacon, slice of cheddar, fresh guac, and some right fine BBQ sauce.

I’m not sure if I should call it gormet or Homer-licious!!

So in your experience, gourmet restaurants serve $60 stuffed potato skins and $80 chicken wings?

Not exactly - though to be totally honest, with the newfangled molecular gastromony phase chefs are going through, I might actually expect to see a ‘concept’ tater skins and wangs being made of buffalo sauce pearls on tiny crispy bits of deep fried and freeze dried chicken skin, and potato puree mixed with black truffle formed into mini potato shells with bacon puree garnished with a crunchy bit of cheddar cheese [you know how cheese gets really crunchy when baked and cooled like the cheese on a pizza crust] presented OH MY GHU KAWAII on some fancy artisanal hand made porcelain plate … paired with a vintage bottle of some plonk so damned tannic it tastes like the damned sahara desert.

The sad part is, if I can concieve of it, some damned molecular chef could, and probably has, and probably sold it to some damned schmuck that would honestly be better off going to a neighborhood hangout bar and having wings, tater skins and a beer for $20

No, they serve a $60 dish “inspired by” potato skins, and an $80 “play on” chicken wings. Oh, yes, and they’re “tasting portions”, which means that if you get any more than two bites of each you should consider yourself very lucky, indeed.

Gourmet food is that which you spend more time talking about, before, during and after then you actually spend eating.

It must be very frustrating for world class Chefs, knowing that every one of their “Works of art” will be fecal matter within a few hours.

Except, no, no they don’t.

That would be gourmet, although I’m not sure how many would eat it!

Seriously though, I think the line is somewhat blurred compared to what it used to be in say… 1983.

As a boy growing up in Houston, there were grocery stores, which basically all had the same stuff. From what I can tell, people chose them by the quality of the chain or location’s meat or produce. There wasn’t much in the way of non standard US grocery store stuff. No gruyere, no block parmesan, very little in the way of Asian stuff outside of La Choy, a small amount of Hispanic stuff that wasn’t Ortega or Old El Paso, little in the way of non-domestic wine or beer, and even then, only the mass-market stuff. All coffee came in cans.

Back then, you went to a small number of places like Spec’s or Jamail’s to get imported olives, cheese, wine, beer, etc… That was gourmet, although back then, they were usually called “Fine foods”.

Contrast that with today, when you can get a wide variety of ingredients unheard of back then, at your local grocery, and the specialty stores are both larger and more well stocked than in the past. Gourmet takes on a new meaning- it’s no longer just being able to get imported parmesan, it’s about what artisan producer’s parmesan you have, or what small-batch bourbon you have, etc…

Sometimes I think it’s nothing more than the word “gourmet” placed in front of the name of the dish or ingredient that makes it gourmet. That is the only explanation I can think of when I’m in the market and see a box of gourmet croutons or a can of gourmet creamed corn.

It’s a lot like the word “deluxe”. As in Kraft Deluxe Macaroni & Cheese Dinner. I wonder what I’d be missing out on if I opted for the plain old non-deluxe mac & cheese kit.

Except, yes. Yes, they do.

Years ago, “continental cuisine”, lobster thermidore, filet mignon, and stuff doused in spirits and flambeed was gourmet. I don’t think they make those kind of dishes any more.

Except, no, no they don’t. Show me this $60-$80 “tasting portion” of grilled cheese or buffalo wings or potato skins. It doesn’t exist. As part of a greater tasting menu, these usually work out to about $10-$15. Still expensive, yes, but your characterization is a gross exaggeration.

That chefs take fine-dining or molecular gastronomy or whatever twists on classic American comfort of junk foods…well, of course they do.

So you’re trying to back up claims of tasting size portions of potato skins and chicken wings for $60 and $80 dollars with links to things that are not in any way like these at all, including not being restaurant dishes?

That sort of thing lives on on cruise ships. Beef Wellington, baked Alaska, etc.

I have actually eaten Baked Alaska in a real restaurant exactly once, about 3 years ago.

They made it in advance and just threw the whole thing in the fridge. Not the best texture on that meringue, lemmetellya.

Gourmet concerns not only the food itself, but the quality of said food, the presentation of said food, they way it’s prepared. In addition the presentation of the food, is part of a larger dining experience. So it’s the way the food is presented to you as a course and the way it’s presented as one of many courses.

Gourmet is about a total dining experience.

Gourmet is like the Emperor’s new clothes. If you say it’s gourmet, and say it with enough conviction, people believe it and it magically comes true.

Just today, I walked past a Jimmy John’s Gourmet Sandwich shop. You know it’s gourmet; it said so right on the awning!

When it says “gourmet” on it.