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Foodie vs Epicurean vs Foodist vs Gourmand

I'm working on an article on different levels/types of food love/appreciation. The terms I could come up with are "foodie, epicurean, foodist, gourmand." Am I leaving any out?

To me a foodie is someone who watches Food Network, likes Paula Deen, etc... An epicurean is more of an Anthony Bourdain type and open to tryin anything but hates food fluff. A foodist is more of the food snob who demands things like everything being made from organic and local ingredients. A gourmand only touches food made by a top chef.

Am I off base?

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      1. I don't know what Webster's would say but I think you're way off base with your definitions and I don't think the terms "foodie" and "foodist" are sufficiently established to have a good definition.

        5 Replies
        1. re: toomuchfat

          Foodie sounds so cute and childish to me (I never use it) even though it came out of the same cultural milieu as hippie and yuppie.

          1. re: maria lorraine

            Hey ML,

            I was THERE, when you were still in diapers... Terms can be very confusing, and seldom typify the person, their relationship to the food, and seem to place too many, into the wrong "cubbyhole."

            On that, I agree with you.


          2. re: toomuchfat

            I was just struck that lots of these new words that attempt to define a person and their eating are modeled after other words with sociopolitical or pop-culture origins.

            Foodist connotes someone whose eating is affected by current political or social issues. It can be complimentary or denigrating, depending on usage. More below.

            Foodista also uses a trendy current suffix with Spanish origins: -ista. A fashionista is hip, slavish to fashion, obsessed but also trendsetting, so perhaps the same adjectives can be applied to a foodista. It's not a complimentary term.

            Others are hippie, yuppie, yippee. Foodie is an affectionate term but lacks gravitas.

            1. re: maria lorraine

              Yes, "foodista" sounds like someone, who would trade arms for food, and for political gain?


          3. I'm curious as to how you arrived at these. They seem rather arbitrary--and loaded w/judgment. I may be misreading, but I'm guessing that, in your schema, all but "epicurean" are pejorative terms? You're a Bourdain fan? Not a Deen fan?

            Labels and categories are always tricky and, too often, they do more to reveal the user's prejudices/preferences than to offer useful information. (I love the Chowhound site but have never really paid much attention to Jim Leff''s distinction between a "foodie" and a "chowhound' although I can see why, for his purposes, it was important to come up with such a distinction.) But then again, as a writing professional, I'm probably overly sensitive to language issues.

            Without knowing how serious the intent of your article is, of course, I'd advise re-thinking your terms and the criteria used for arriving at those, and then doing some research into how the ones you settle on are understood in popular usage.

            1 Reply
            1. You need to work on your definitions, because, yes, you are way, way off base. Just from the couple of sentences you wrote, it looks to me as though you have set up a theory and you are going to prove it, regardless. Not the best approach, in my opinion.

              1. sorry buddy, but you are barely in the correct zip code.

                Foodie and Paula Dean are opposites. Foodies know better
                Gourmand - eats too much and brags too much, think Jeff Steingarten
                epicurean - jfood guesses it is someone from the island of epicure, just south of montego bay. never heard of this one, maybe spends too much time on epicurious.com
                foodist - your definition is more of a self-important PIA locovore.

                bottom line...who cares about titles, write an article about food versus an article bucketizing non-important lables.

                4 Replies
                1. re: jfood

                  jfood- in his memoir James Beard said "I must say, my gourmand tendencies began early".n He was a child at the time

                  I was always told that gourmand=glutton- truth?

                  1. re: EWSflash

                    Yes, you are correct EWSflash: gourmand refers to someone who enjoys food, not always with refinement and concern and always with eating to excess. Bragging has nothing to do with it.

                    1. re: EWSflash

                      <<I was always told that gourmand=glutton- truth?>>

                      Not the way I learned the word, initially, and not the way Escoffier or Herve This used the word in the 20th century.

                      The definition varies by context. Gourmand does not always connote one who consumes large quantities of food or a gluttonous person. It CAN mean that, but context has to supply that definition. Here's what the American Heritage Dictionary says about the usage of the words gourmet and gourmand:

                      "A gourmet is a person with discriminating taste in food and wine, as is a gourmand. Because gourmand can also mean “one who enjoys food in great quantities” or even “a gluttonous eater,” care should be taken to make clear its intended sense."

                      Dineandcook, read this similar thread with lots of comments:
                      "How would you define gourmet and....?"

                      Extensive definitions and differentiation between gourmet and gourmand here:

                    2. re: jfood

                      And not only that, but I have watched Paula Deen for years, and although she'[s OTT now, I watched her culinary skils on tv before she became a FN icon, and you know what? she has mad kitchen skills. Hand techniques I envy I''ve seen her do while jabbering on and on. The lady has mad skills, whether you think she's a poseur or not. In other words, I like Paula Deen, jeebus cripes, what a survivor,

                    3. I'm inclined to say that foodie is a very old term. It doesn't, to me, say Food Network/Simply Delicioso, etc. It's been around much longer than those shows have.

                      I tell people I've been a foodie since the '70s, when I used to scour the auxiliary book sales at the hospital where I work for Gourmet magazine, which at the time they were selling as books (and rightfully so).

                      One of the most whole-life (fill in your most respectful gourmet-term) people I ever met used the term gourmet. He was a true gourmet, which didn't involve strait-laced snobbery, rather if they were having a neighborhood chili party, yeah, they used beans in the chili and freely (VERY freely) served Carlo Rossi wine because they were feeding the whole neighborhood, after all, and probably had a band hired on his nickel, too. He also had many many true high-end dining experiences all over the world. I should add he was a hell of a cook, has a son who's a local restauranteur who studied under, among other people, Paul Prudhomme, who all became friends of his father because he had such a joy of life and was so much fun. He was also instrumental in starting a local chapter of (hope I spell this right) Le Chein de Rotisseurs, which fell apart after his death.

                      So I guess it's somewhat subjective, but when I think of Fred I think of "gourmet" in the most affectionate terms, he lived his life very, very well and I miss him.

                      May be an outdated term, but it will never be a negative one for me.

                      1. You're missing the obvious "gourmet" in your list. And yes, I would say you are way off base on most of your definitions. JMHO.

                        You need to check several dictionaries and note the similarities and differences in how they define these terms. Gourmet vs. gourmand is particularly interesting. The original French meaning was gourmet = appreciate fine food and gourmand = glutton, but they have changed over time and geography. Start with Websters 2nd, the OED, and the American Heritage, and work out from there. The terms foodie and foodist are more recent.

                        The one thing you will quickly learn is that there is little agreement on these terms. Thus it may be you can safely dismiss anything posted here, including what I just said (LOL).

                        7 Replies
                        1. re: johnb

                          Honestly, I didn't mean to offend. My definitions were very casual observations based on conversations I've had with some industry people and from postings on the blogosphere. I'm not a big fan of labels myself, but I find it very, very interesting how people label their relationship with food.

                          Foodie has gotten a bad wrap I think recently, be it misdirected or not. From my interactions with chefs, they're using the term negatively. "Oh God not another foodie." Maybe it's a lack of education thing on the diner's part (asking to see the chef, taking photos, asking for recipes, etc...)

                          When people ask me what I call myself, I just say I like food, 90 percent of the time the next comment is "oh so you're a foodie." Granted it's easy for me to fall back on the food writer title.

                          I personally like the term gourmand, but I don't know how other people receive the term.

                          I do think though, I'm on point with the foodist definition. Face it; there are a lot of them out there who use food as a status symbol. You know the type, someone Who only shops at Dean & Deluca, eats at Michelin starred places... someone who always wants to one up your food story with there's because they went to the best.

                          1. re: dineandcook

                            Don't worry--I don't think anybody has been offended.

                            We all agree that there are people who use food as a status marker and elevator, but there are people who use a whole host of things as a status marker (often the same people). Food is just another tool for social climbers. I'm not sure about the term "foodist" to describe such people. In general, I'm not too sure there is agreement that there really is a term "foodist" to start with, but if there is it seems to connote some type of genuine expertise about food matters, not social climbers. The suffix -ist is used to denote a person who either practices something (artist, machinist, terrorist) or a person who is concerned with something (realist) or a person who holds certain principles, doctrines, etc. (capitalist, communist). I'm not sure there is a single word to capture the concept of a person who uses food as a social climbing/status marker. Maybe you can invent one, but I don't think the "ist" suffix is what you want.

                            1. re: johnb

                              Maybe you're thinking "Foodista"

                            2. re: dineandcook

                              I think you've got a gimmick not anything close to credible concept. I don't agree with any of your definitions or characterizations. Not a good start, just IMO. No offense taken, but no credence given, either.

                              1. re: dineandcook

                                <<I do think though, I'm on point with the foodist definition...A foodist is more of the food snob who demands things like everything being made from organic and local ingredients. >>

                                Nope, don't think so. Your definition describes a foodista, a slavish, trend-obsessed food person. This is like the definition of a fashionista (see above).

                                My sense is that foodist connotes someone whose eating is informed by current political or social issues. Michael Pollan is a foodist; Marion Nestle could be described as a foodist. Raw foodist is a term I see fairly often.

                                But New York magazine recently used the word in a non-political sense. Foodist was used to describe someone who has a deep interest in food and who is informed about food. In this usage, it's the American equivalent of gourmet, a non-gluttonous gourmand, or gastronome.

                                Here's the quote:
                                "Edible Brooklyn editor Gabrielle Langholtz suggested that bona fide food fans — those who read food books, travel to food destinations, and taste obsessively — could refer to themselves as 'foodists.' ”

                                1. re: maria lorraine

                                  To me, the "ist" suffix currently in vogue has an "anti" connotation (unlike feminist -- someone who supports the rights of women). Think the currently trendy "ageist" and "sizeist." In this vein, a "foodist" is someone who denigrates food.

                                  1. re: pikawicca

                                    Thanks, PIccawicca. Interesting.

                                    I haven't come across the use of the word "foodist" with an *anti-* slant, like the words truthist, ageist and sexist. I'm so used to hearing it used to describe interest or food philosophy, like "raw foodist."

                                    Can you list some examples of foodist used in an "anti-" way?

                            3. I think you're definitions are way off base, but then I'm an older person with a fairly broad vocabulary. There are certain terms that carry the same general degree and terms that are more specific. I would rank them this way:

                              Foodie, Chowhound, even "foodist" (and probably a lot more words that don't spring to mind at the momeht) as people who GENERALLY like food. These are rather general terms that do not necessarily differentiate between people who just "like to eat," whatever it may be, but also includes people who are very discriminating. So all of these terms are more like a general category as opposed to designating someone with specific tastes or skills.

                              Then there is gourmet, someone who appreciates food that is well prepared and not just "something to fill your stomach." It's an overused term. And it carries no implication of wehter or not the person can cook.

                              Gourmand is synonomous with gluttonous.

                              Then up at the top echelon, there is epicure, connoisseur, gastronome. Again, these words do not carry a clear implication of whether someone can or cannot cook. Just that they are likely well versed in all things related to fine food and drink.

                              And Chow/Chowhound is a place where all can come together. Hope this helps. Oh, and NO!!! Anthony Bourdain is not what I would call an epicurean. He is a chef. And that brings us to the edge of designations for people with knowledge and experience in food preparation and (normally) food history. I'm not gonna go there, but will say that there are very clear and specific designations for those who earn their living in professional kitchens, but not so much for those who cook well (or poorly) but do it in their own homes.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: Caroline1

                                These are wonderful words: "epicure, connoisseur, gastronome."

                                Agreed: "Anthony Bourdain is not what I would call an epicurean."

                                An epicurean is interested in luxury, elegance and sensuality in regards to cuisine. Usually this means haute cuisine.

                                In contrast, Bourdain is more likely a gastronome, someone who is interested in the regional cuisines of the world, and the food eaten by everyone from peasants and aristocrats.

                              2. I watch the Food Network, love Anthony Bourdain, love to eat, love to cook, and love cheap and expensive food alike. What's that make me?

                                2 Replies
                                  1. So I am so curious? I wonder if somebody mixes or crosses over between being a chef and home cook... what is the label for that person? How would you label a cooking video that blended Asian cooking with Western cooking style... would the Ivy Ho Cooking show offend real chefs and entertain or bore foodies? http://myown.oprah.com/audition/index...
                                    Video link (after July 3 -http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PvZS1K...)

                                    1. Drop the labels, or you're just going to seem silly: people's relationships to food cannot be so neatly pigeon-holed.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: pikawicca

                                        <<people's relationships to food cannot be so neatly pigeon-holed.>>


                                      2. I think you'll have a hard time defining these.

                                        I've never heard of foodist.

                                        Foodie, to me, implies someone who is interested not just in eating food, but also in the growing/raising process, preparation, preserving, and all the aspects that go into the final product. The implication is more hands on.

                                        Epicurean (and gourmet) implies someone who is interested in fine dining and fine cuisine - the best ingredients and preparation methods, rare foods, etc. The emphasis is on the final product.

                                        Gourmand has two meanings. The first is similar to gourmet, as above. The second is someone who love eating and food, and implies excess or gluttony. That is the meaning I generally think of when hearing the word gourmand, kind of like Mr Creosote.

                                        1. i think food geek belongs on the list as well.

                                          2 Replies
                                            1. re: EWSflash

                                              i mean it in the sense of "geeking out" over food...so basically, it's someone who's extremely knowledgeable about food *and* gets far more excited/passionate about (or obsessional about) all things food-related than the average person.

                                              or, to quote the person at geekfoodie.blogspot.com: "a geek is someone who is extremely passionate about a specific subject, but in a literate, educated sort of way. This leads to the expression "geeking out", which describes the action of getting extremely excited about something you really love or just learned, related to the subject in which you are a geek. "

                                              so that, in relation to food.

                                          1. Okay, so I'm smiling so hear my reply with kindness, but I'm going to be blunt. I'm a personal chef who went to culinary school.... So after mentioning that let me just say that it is annoying that the whole world thinks they are a foodie now. Someone who likes to eat, watch foodnetwork, etc is not a Foodie or any of the ones you mentioned.

                                            A foodie is someone who knows which chef is at which restaurant, the history of dishes, what's hot in the culinary world. Liking food doesn't have anything to do with that. There is a big difference between loving to learn about cooking and actually knowing the technique and science of it all. Point is... it's all bullshit... people should just embrace food and what they like. The foodnetwork is amazing, yet it has turned America into a bunch of annoying "foodies" or the others labels you listed. I mean I'm chef... and I don't consider myself a true "foodie". Am I amazing in the kitchen, classically trained and cooking all the time... ? Yes, but let's value the art of cooking and the art of creativity and get off our high horses.

                                            And again... not directed at you. :)
                                            Just my feedback...

                                            1. .............vs.........no one really gives a shit?

                                              1. While I wish you much luck, and success with the article, I find that trying to differentiate between "levels" of folk, who appreciate great food, to be rather a Quixotic endeavor - mostly semantics.

                                                I love great food, at all levels, really indulge in fine-dining, watch some Food Network, but seldom know the "celebrities," except for some top chefs, and participate on CH. What would I be called?

                                                I would work less on monikers, and concentrate on the outcome.

                                                Good luck,


                                                1. Well, dineandcook, since the OP was well over two years ago, did you write the article and publish it, and if so what did you say?

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. These definitions are way off. There is a new thread on this subject: