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Difference between a chowhound and food snob

What would the difference be in your estimation?

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  1. This is the start of a good thread and I'm going to weigh in before I weigh in on the "I'm better/Insult you" thread.

    Snob: Has a lot of food knowledge and derives pleasure from PROVING it to others.

    Hound: Has a lot of food knowledge and derives pleasure from SHARING with others...to everyone's benefit...Win/win.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Monch

      I really like where you're coming from. Good on you! Hope to hear from more CHers.

      1. re: Monch


        I am a bit fearful of weighing b/c I am so new to Chowhound. But, from what I've seen here, a chowhound likes to discuss food. A food snob likes to discuss himself/herself under the guise of food.

      2. The FS looks for the show.
        The CH looks for the chow.

        1. pet analogy.

          FS wants a pedigree breed to enjoy.

          CH is just as happy with a cool mutt (but purebreds are good too).

          1. Jfood will go out to dinner and enjoy a meal with a Chowhound.

            1. Unfortunately from where I stand, with some exceptions there does not seem to be much difference. There is a lot of good info on this message board, however there is way too much bad info, more then enough pretension, and way too many hangers on just wanting to know what restaurant to go to , and amazingly what to order when they are told where to go.

              Just by asking the question you are implying there is a difference and that somehow a "chowhound" is somehow better than a so-called foodie. You are the one using the word snob. Some people would call a Chowhounder a snob also. What's that line about the Emperor having no clothes?

              6 Replies
              1. re: chipman

                I see where you are coming from but I tend to agree with the poster who said that the distinction comes from what one does with the information. Does one use it to share and educate or does one use it to demonstrate how superior he or she is?

                I always assumed that a foodie and a chowhound were one and the same but a food snob is dogmatic about food.

                1. re: Zengarden

                  I can live with your definition, but I've also seen where the term 'foodie' was used derisively compared to chowhound. Oh well, I guess it's just semantics. I think I'll go to dinner. Does anyone have any suggestions?

                  1. re: Zengarden

                    and a chowhound is by nature a snob...I'm sure somebody has written a haiku about this.

                    1. re: Zengarden

                      Hi Zengarden... I see you've started posting after the "new" CNET Chowhound was active. The old chowhound.com had a huge front-and-center manifesto that you had to click through before entering the boards, and this manifesto clearly defined "foodie" vs. "chowhound" (as envisioned by the site's creator, Jim Leff)

                      Courtesy of the Wayback Machine, here's chowhound.com from May 10, 2000. Note 2nd paragraph:

                      There is a "new" manifesto, brought back by popular demand, but it is all but invisible, relegated to tiny little letters at the bottom of the page. Also, this manifesto has been snipped of a lot of it's gusto and color, no doubt a victim of CNET's corporate sanitizing.

                      For an in depth discussion on the differences between the old and new manifestos, click here:

                      Mr Taster

                    2. re: chipman

                      When I tell someone on chowhound to "order the pork chop" at Restaurant X, I am doing so because I really really liked the pork chop there and I want others to enjoy the same experience I enjoyed.

                      Similarly, when I ask for suggestions about what to order at a restaurant, I'm looking for ideas from other chowhounds about experiences they have enjoyed. Most chowhounds I have met (and I've met many) share a passion for food that other people don't have (including posters on other sites, or even newspaper reviewers.) So I take these recommendations seriously. When I read a post that sounds snobby, I ignore it and move on.

                      1. re: chipman

                        You're right, you can be a food snob and a CH. They aren't mutually exclusive.

                        As for a definition, a snob seeks a bit of status and one-upsmanship or a special feeling through their endeavor...be it food or what not. Given everyone has to eat and not everyone has to collect 19th century ink fountains...food snobbery gets more attention.

                        If however you need a base line: snobs tend not to have much fun regardless of where they're at, too busy being critical. CHs (or plain old gluttons as I prefer) are there for the tastiness, lust for food/fun/gluttony and will have fun in process.

                      2. Bear in mind, though, that simply calling oneself (or other people) one or the other term doesn't make it so.

                        1. The difference between a chowhound and a food snob is in your perception. The snob thinks he's a hound!

                          1. I finally figured out what bothers me about this discussion, and other similar ones on Chowhound: the assumption that people can be accurately sorted into easily distinguishable types. Sometimes I act like a food snob; I'm sure that some of my friends and acquaintances think I'm a food snob. Does that mean that I AM a food snob at some essential level? Well, it's certainly not something I aspire to.

                            Behavior is complex. People are complex. And people change, both over time and according to context. The same person might be a "food snob" at certain times and places, and a "chowhound" at others. We're never going to say "okay, everybody on this side of the line is a chowhound, and those people over there are foodies or food snobs, and we all agree on where the line is and who is on which side of it." But discussions like this one seem to run on the assumption that it's possible and even desirable to do so.

                            4 Replies
                            1. re: jlafler

                              You've hit the nail on the head, j. And described exactly why I can't quite formulate a good response to this thread, either.

                              1. re: jlafler

                                Yes--my thoughts, exactly. Thanks for formulating it so articulately.

                                I just understand a Chowhound to be someone who uses this board enough to share a sense of common experience with others on this board and thus are part of the 'Chowhound community'.

                                1. re: jlafler

                                  Exactly. By the definitions above, there are only about 2 people on this board who would always fit into the chowhound line. And about 2000 who would think they did.

                                  Just logging on to this board show a little snobbishness. We all do it, we all have it. Embrace your inner snob and have some fun.

                                  1. re: lgphil

                                    well, said. but I would add, try to be a little gracious, forgiving and non-fussy about it. and above all laugh at yourself (before others beat you to it).

                                2. The old saying is still true for me:
                                  "I don't care what you call me, just make sure you call me for dinner!"

                                  I find labels limiting and they can create larger preconceptions which get in the way of true exchange. I realize a label can be a handy "speed dating" type way to give a synopsis, but I much prefer a slower get to know you process. I rather like peeling the onion and discovering all the layers...

                                  So when I am asked if I'm a foodie, etc. I generally explain that I am a very enthusiastic eater!

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: meatn3

                                    Hurray for that! It's all about the food!

                                    1. re: meatn3

                                      I too am uncomfortable with the term foodie. I am very enthusiastic about food, but don't consider myself a food snob. I agree with opinions given above about how a snob will lord his or her knowledge about food over others.
                                      I try to stay away from the labels period because they mean different things to different people....but if seeking out delicious food regardless of it's sophistication or pedigree is being a food snob...then I am guilty as charged!

                                    2. Not sure cause I consider my self a hound/foodie/food lover and home cook but my wife thinks I'm a food snob, cigar snob, whisky snob.......you get the picture.

                                      4 Replies
                                      1. re: scubadoo97

                                        Being married to a fellow food lover who also happens to be a HUGE cigar afficionado too. So I am curious about your views on cigars. Mr. HR hates being called a cigar snob because he equates it with people who have no knowledge of cigars and will only smoke a cigar that's expensive or one with a "name" and ignore other cigars that are less pricey but sometimes much higher in quality...just curious about your thoughts on that.

                                        1. re: HungryRubia

                                          I can tell you that price is not an indicator or quality. I have a love of cigars from one particular country but again price is not the indicator I look for. I smoke what I call "pedestrian" cigars and leave the Limited Edition-hype cigars for the others to enjoy. I find the more I pay the less my expectations are met. A $12 cigar doesn't taste twice as good as a $6 cigar. Sometimes it's worse. To be certain, there is a lot of hype in the cigar industry.

                                          1. re: scubadoo97

                                            In Costa Rica I bought a bundle of excellent cigars very cheaply in the open air mercado and could not afford the ones sold at the airport. Used to get Cuban cheaply in Bolivia and send them back to Dad & Bro w/ a customs declaration that stated the illegal Cubanos were "poker accessories"! they always got through. What a great smoke they were. Sigh.

                                            1. re: Passadumkeg

                                              a customs declaration that stated the illegal Cubanos were "poker accessories"! they always got through.
                                              LOL! Well, you *were* being truthful! ;-) (I assume, however, that the packages were never opened by Customs.)

                                      2. this currently raging thread basically devolved into the OPs question.


                                        1. So what's driving all this foodie vs. hound vs. snob vs. better hound discussion here lately - we've had at least 3 of these (not counting the purposefully started manifesto discussion) - all connected in one way or another.

                                          Do we have a bunch of revolting newbies? (Sire, sire, the peasants are revolting! Revolting! I think they're disgusting!) Did we get published in something and referenced in such a manner that people feel free to come here and deride our goings-on? Is there some other site that functions so much better than we do without any of this disrespectful and acrimonious irony? Why are we, a) losing the well-grounded posters, and/or b) attracting the food neurotics?

                                          Is this some sort of annual beating ourselves up ritual we must endure that goes along with the authenticity debates?

                                          Let me make some suggestions:

                                          1) Concentrate on what we're here for. It's the food, stupid. Just what is all this foodie vs. hound vs. snob vs. better hound discussion teaching anybody? Let me tell you all a big secret: People are different. Wow.

                                          2) There used to be a difference between a Soap Opera and Chowound.com. Let's get back to being a food site. If you really, really like these discussions about what to label people, and how not to treat people, please go watch a Soap Opera and get your fill, and then come here for some good advice and discussion on food.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: applehome

                                            I was wondering about this mini-proliferation myself but then again this particular board is called Not About Food... there have been a lot of answers so I guess it is a topic that is deemed worth discussing.

                                            FWIW most people I know would say a food snob is someone who uses food interests and knowledge against the rest of the world, and a chowhound is someone who likes to eat a lot (maybe too much). None of my friends know that there is a site-specific, proper noun definition of Chowhound.

                                          2. Might the difference lie in the perceived knowledge one has about a particular food or cuisine? I consider myself a New Mexican food snob, but a Mexican food chow hound. I know New Mexican food intimately through in-laws and know what is good, but Mexican food in general, is so diverse and I traveled Mexico extensively so long ago, that I want to learn more and seek out others for more info.
                                            The same goes for chowder and New England food, in general. I know chowders, but am still trying to learn (and like!) New England cuisine. Now to my fish cakes and beans for breakfast, Cappy.(But dontcha go eatin' the junk in cans!)
                                            "If I'm absolutely sure about anything, I've forgotten what it was."
                                            Tom Paxton

                                            1. About the simplest way I can put it is that a food snob is an excluder ("What! You've *never* had rognons brochette a l'espagnole?" Rolls eyes) and a chowhound is an includer ("Hi, Maureen. Any chance you and Joe can join us tomorrow night? I've found this really old French recipe for kidney kabobs I'm dying to try, but just in case none of us like them, there will be plenty of steak kabob too.") To transpose a dictum from real estate, "Attitude, attitude, attitude!" '-)

                                              EDIT: Oh, and in a true food snob, the attitude is inflexible.

                                              15 Replies
                                              1. re: Caroline1

                                                maybe we should just embrace the title of snob and say @$#% it. nobody else seems to want rognon anyway. more for us, they could play along if they weren't touchy freaks.

                                                sad, but if one can't get over the idea of organ meat, well, take your ball and go home. we'll just inflate a bladder (gotta tie off the ends and save the duodonem for, ummm...) and play with that.

                                                1. re: Caroline1

                                                  (Off topic...)

                                                  "rognons brochette a l'espagnole"

                                                  Hmm, let me see:
                                                  marinated, then grilled?
                                                  How you marinate the kidneys?
                                                  Veal, cow, pig?

                                                  1. re: RicRios

                                                    you're not off topic. maybe score first.

                                                    "Veal, cow, pig?"

                                                    does it matter? use plenty of olive oil and judge by taste and grilling time. (I'd give the pig a little longer). if bloody, soak in saltwater first (which works for many things like chicken or eggplant)

                                                    1. re: hill food

                                                      As a self described Eastcaost foods nob I take offense to comments about food snobs. Even though I made an effort to call myself foods nob because I think the name has bad connotation no matter what I am a food snob/hound/fan/critic/lover/hater because i am passionate about food. To layman all you hounds sound like snobs and snobs sound like critics without merit to restaurants. So who care what other people call us but only thing that matters is that we are all passionate about food.

                                                    2. re: RicRios

                                                      Escoffier says:

                                                      Prepare* mutton or lamb kidneys, cut into halves without dividing them; stick them two or four at a time on a skewer;season them, and grill them in a somewhat hot oven. Place them, after removing the skewers, upon a hot dish and put into the cavity of each a piece of softened Matre-d-hotel butter the size of a hazel nut.

                                                      Page 455, The Escoffier Cook Book

                                                      * The kidneys are prepared by "clearing" (peeling?) them of their outer skin, then cutting in half, presumably like a hamburger bun without completely severing the two halves. No mention is made of soaking them to clear out any uric acid, but that may be presumed. Some of Escoffier's (as well as Careme's) recipes are amazingly simple and not at all what most would expect, based on their reputations.

                                                      The dilemma here comes from Escoffier himself. In his recipe for buerre maitre d' hotel, he maniers (combines with equal parts of flour) the butter before adding the standard minced parsley, lemon juice, salt and pepper. His is the only recipe I can recall that combines the butter with flour first. I'm wondering if the uncooked flour in his recipe somehow tames the flavor of the kidneys if they are not soaked to reduce/remove the uric acid? I would probably soak the kidneys and leave out the flour... But I'm scared to death to price in today's market. Last time I bought them, I think they were 60 cents a pound.

                                                      1. re: Caroline1

                                                        Sheesh. Out of morbid curiosity I Googled the web for lamb kidneys for sale. These are the only ones I could find: http://tinyurl.com/58puyt That's just under $2.75 per kidney! I want time travel. I want to earn now and shop then!

                                                        1. re: Caroline1

                                                          You need to move to someplace that has a lot of Armenians! There are at least two markets a few blocks from me that always have lamb kidneys, liver, hearts, tongues...

                                                          Last time I was accused of being a Food Snob was when I was seeing a nutritionist that someone had recommended, and all the breads on her list of recommended foods were supermarket brands. I asked politely about the stuff I might get from, say, Trader Joe's, and she said, "Oh, you're a food snob, right?" Yeah, well, if that's all it takes...but I don't think so. I'm a food ENTHUSIAST, if you need a label, and if I'm eating Tripes Proven├žale it's not to show off, but because I love that stuff so much I could put it in my pants. So there.

                                                          1. re: Will Owen

                                                            Wow! That was quite uncalled for. I probably wouldn't have said anything but would have seriously thought about switching nutritionists from that comment alone. But there are some people out there who'll call you a snob just because you'd rather have homemade waffles versus Eggo.

                                                            1. re: Miss Needle

                                                              It has been my experience that nutritionists are seldom if ever truly interested in food as an art form, cooking as an art, eating as a sort of art appreciation. By inclination as well as training they think of food ONLY as nutrition, and consider the function of good flavor to be solely that of getting us to eat what's good for us. I would point out that it's almost always nutritionists who run school cafeterias...

                                                              1. re: Will Owen

                                                                Nutritionists are cyborgs who are merely designed in the shape of humans, albeit enviously thin ones.

                                                                Their view of food is akin to how the Mars Lander analyzes rocks on a foreign planet. Composition, mass, portion size.

                                                                The truth is that nutritionists themselves run purely on solar power.

                                                                1. re: thebordella

                                                                  To understand what's up with nutritionists, it helps to know a little about the eating habits of most of the people they see. When your client eats Doritos and a Coke for breakfast, almost anything is a step up.

                                                            2. re: Will Owen

                                                              Will: "I love that stuff so much I could put it in my pants."

                                                              I am going to have to steal that phrase.

                                                              1. re: Will Owen

                                                                Will, I would love to live someplace with a lot of Armenians, or Turks, or Greeks, or Lebanese, or Syrians, or.... I want the FOOD!

                                                                But in all fairness, I do have a great little halal market about four miles thataway, a couple of blocks from the local mosque. I just haven't thought to price lamb kidneys. Been too busy munching on lamb chops! And just last week I found out he gets mutton in every once in a while! Gonna have me some stew...!!! '-)

                                                        2. re: Caroline1

                                                          My sentiments exactly. I also feel like chowhounds are more helpful when it comes to food knowledge, because they have a genuine love of food. Food snobs, it seems, love themselves first, and just happen to express it through food sometimes.

                                                          1. re: Caroline1

                                                            that's kind of what I was thinking-- we were sharing a vacation house last week with my father, my brother, and my brother's family. My sister-in-law wanted BBQ. I did my research (here of course) and found that the BBQ place in the town we were in was only so-so, but that 10 miles up the road was a take-out only place that was highly recommended. I gave everyone the results of my research, but everyone else wanted a sitdown place that was close. If it had been just my family, we would have driven up the road and gotten take-out, but I wasn't going to make an issue of it. I think a food snob would make everyone know that they were settling for second-best-- I just went along without a blink of complaint.

                                                          2. if i did not know food, i would learn it here. somedays that comes with humor, some days with sarcasm. that to me makes the difference between a 'hound' and a snob. i have an acquaintance who loves to go eat at 'authentic' places. whether she knew anything about them or not, she is my definition of a snob. love to eat, love to share knowledge of food and related is the chowhound.

                                                            1. food snobs are haters, chowhounds are lovers.

                                                              1 Reply
                                                              1. re: bigjeff

                                                                XO, Big Jeff!

                                                                In my view, a food snob eliminates possibilities; a Chowhound embraces them.

                                                                A food snob goes solely by Michelin and Zagat; a Chowhound gets as excited about a great food cart as a white tablecloth.

                                                                A food snob obsesses about vintages and bouquet; a Chowhound knows that Trader Joe's has some awfully good deals on drinkable wines.

                                                                A food snob will drive I-80 across Pennsylvania without stopping; a Chowhound can't wait to get to the nearest Eat n' Park.

                                                              2. ok how about this:

                                                                if there was a global apocalypse, chowhounds would live, and food snobs would die.

                                                                1 Reply
                                                                1. re: bigjeff

                                                                  yeah, but we'd still have nutritionists.

                                                                2. Without reading other responses, here is mine...a Chowhound may love really great food but will have fun even in the presence of average food. A Food snob will allow the lack of truly inventive cuisine to impede their good time.
                                                                  Someone that will eat at a chain restaurant if the company I'm with is good :-)

                                                                  1. Actually, now that I think of it, it's simple.

                                                                    Food snobs are orange. Chowhounds are purple...or chartreuse -- anyway, not orange! Never, never orange!

                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                    1. re: jlafler

                                                                      Hmm, I wonder what rworange on the SF Bay Area board would think of that :-).

                                                                      1. re: grayelf

                                                                        Uh-oh. Well, I guess a chowhound can rhyme with orange, if necessary.

                                                                    2. It's been pointed out that labelling people doesn't work so maybe we should talk about chowhound and snob BEHAVIOUR. Individuals may exhibit varying degrees of each.

                                                                      Chowhound behaviour shows a love of food and the use of knowledge to get more good food. Snob behaviour is the use of information to score points on others to make the individual feel better about themselves.

                                                                      It's all about the agenda to me. The goal might not be obvious at first but is usually revealed pretty quickly.

                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                      1. re: sharonanne

                                                                        It's not just about labels (i.e., Chowhound=good, snob=bad). It's about judging behavior and ultimately trying to change other people's behavior to meet YOUR agenda. WHO, THE FUCK, CARES????

                                                                        Personal agendas and goals are completely irrelevant to the food and food knowledge. If someone wants to one-up himself by telling you something you didn't know - who cares if he has an agenda of sounding more knowledgeable than you? People look foolish doing all kinds of things. If it's good advice about a restaurant or something about some ethnic food I didn't know very well, I'll listen and maybe I'll learn a thing or two.

                                                                        Sometimes it's just how you hear things. David Rosengarten comes across as a know-it-all. People used to think of him as a snob and hate his food show - they still often complain about his newsletters. You know what? I say bitch away - I know more about certain food items because I read his stuff. His agenda is to make money telling you stuff he knows. Indeed - he had better be a know it all.

                                                                        I would guess that there are people around the world who would have refused to have a conversation with Picasso or Heifetz because of their snobbery.

                                                                        1. re: applehome

                                                                          Pablo and Jascha were horrible house guests.

                                                                          we had to replace SO much linen after every visit. elephants are more house-trained.

                                                                      2. I know it when I hear it: Years ago, my (just-married) husband and I were dining at the now (justly) defunct Ernie's in SF. We heard a pompous ass at the nearby 4-top announce to the server in a lofty tone that they "were gourmets from Phoenix." We couldn't help it -- we burst out laughing and couldn't stop. In those days, Phoenix was still a dusty little hick town, and the nearest decent food was in LA.

                                                                        1. People who agree with you on this board are chowhounds.
                                                                          People who disagree with you are food snobs/reverse food snobs.