HOME > Chowhound > Not About Food >
Jun 19, 2013 09:15 PM

Is food becoming overblown ?

There are more food commercials than ever. The word foodie ? I have built a $50,000 kitchen for someone who does not cook. There are alot more food shows on TV.Has it become more than just one of the three necessities of life. Food, Clothing, and Shelter?I do enjoy my good food and wine.But I think it's a little bit over the top.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Well, a 'meat-and-potatoes' guy might argue that food has been overblown since Escoffier or Careme. Obvious solution to this and certain other problems: Don't own a TV.

    1. You're observing two phenomena, the ever-increasing commercial time per hour of TV and the explosion of programming.

      Growing up in the 60's/70's we had 4 or 5 TV channels and there were 12 minutes of commercials per hour. We now have over a hundred channels with 18 or more minutes of commercials per hour. There are networks devoted to food but also to home improvement, hunting, animals, etc.

      So sure, there's more food-oriented TV, but that's justa function of more TV and more commercials. We had plenty of food commercials in the 60's/70's, easily the same proportion as today.

      As for expensive kitchens for non-cooks. I was in teh business over 20 years ago and we were building $75k-$200k kitchns for non-cooks back then too.

      29 Replies
      1. re: ferret

        also, some people look at their home as a financial asset.

        a phenomenal, well-designed, beautiful, kitchen will normally increase the sales price of the home.

        i live in a tract home in a development that has 5 models of home. i can clearly see that the sales prices of the models with bigger kitchens and a real pantry are markedly higher than the sales prices of my model and the others like it with smaller kitchens.

        the home flippers in my area normally remodel the kitchen first.

        1. re: westsidegal

          Keep in mind that if a homeowner does a kitchen Reno they're unlikely to get better than 60-70 cents on the dollar in terms of the bump to their home value. It only makes sense if someone is actually going to enjoy it

          1. re: jgg13

            In certain price points, having a nice kitchen will help sell a house. A high end home w/ an old kitchen won't sell unless the market is super hot.

            1. re: chowser

              That doesn't contradict what I said. You'd still not be getting full value for your dollar.

              1. re: jgg13

                "That doesn't contradict what I said. "

                That wasn't my intent. I'm just saying that in some price points, people don't want to bother w/ renovations. In the $1mil+ range if they need to redo the kitchen, the house is going to be hard to sell. Some people do it for that purpose, not as an investment.

                1. re: chowser

                  Fair enough. But even in that situation it'd be wise for someone who isn't going to use their kitchen to out in the bare minimum in terms of $$ that would meet that goal.

                  Of course, in some areas $1m still involves plenty of Reno work to do :)

                2. re: jgg13

                  You simply can't generalize like that. A kitchen should be about 15% of the home's value. Anything less and the buyer will see it as a liability, something they need to improve in addition to the purchase price. Any more, and you'll get less than dollar-for-dollar value.

                  So a $300,000 home should have a kitchen in the $45,000 range - not hard to do.

                  1. re: ferret

                    My kitchen is probably less than 1.5% of my house's value and that includes the three grills out back and the food in the fridge. But, I can walk to the beach, have a garden in front, and have handcrafted almost every other room. Sometimes, rules and formulas don't actually apply.

                    I guess location really matters, 'cause I could probably get over four hundred for this place after Sandy, but my galley is so tight, I had to put hooks on the wall so I had somewhere in the kitchen to hang my pans. A kitchen worth forty grand or more, that's like goin' on a blind date, walkin' in, and the hostess says, "Follow me." At the end of the walk, you're seated in a dark booth across from a gorgeous brunette and the first thing she says is, "I'm already drunk. Do you live around here?"

                    1. re: MGZ

                      The formula applies with respect to resale value, not personal preference. There are a great many things we do (overspend/underspend) based on our needs and wants. All I was saying about the "formula" is that a typical buyer has certain expectations based on a listing price. The kitchen is the most cost-intensive room in the house (with respect to cabinetry/appliances/finishes) so again, a "typical" buyer will expect the kitchen to be reflective of a 15% proportion of the listing price.

                      Will you find buyers who are aligned with your perspective? Probably.

                      Would you get your money back (or even a little more) if you upgraded the kitchen? Also probably.

                      1. re: ferret

                        Next person that buys my old house is either gonna be a craftsman or gonna have someone come take it away in a coupla thirty yards.

                        1. re: ferret

                          I think the point that you're missing is that the locale affects things like this. You're generalizing far too much. Where I live, a place in the 500k range will generally *not* have a kitchen in the 75K range. As an example, a friend of mine's place is valued ~400K and she just redid her kitchen from the studs - it looks a million times better and it ran her about 25k. Imagine what it was like beforehand.

                        2. re: MGZ

                          Sorry, I don't care how nice the location (and your location sounds like one I would look at) if your kitchen really is that small I wouldn't even consider buying it. The kitchen is a MAJOR buying point for me.

                          1. re: PotatoHouse

                            It's a major point for lots of people, even those who don't cook, because it's an expected part of the home. My mother never cared about the age of her kitchen and it took years to convince her to remodel. She kept saying, "it's not important to me" and I kept pointing out that it will likely be important to a future purchaser and she might as well get some use out of it.

                              1. re: MGZ

                                I am a lifelong parrothead raised on the beaches of California and Hawaii. Beach location is VERY important to me, but so is being able to cook for my friends and family. It's not an either/or, I want both in a house and I will easily find it in another house. I'm sure you would find someone to buy your house, but it wouldn't be me or many people I know.

                                1. re: PotatoHouse

                                  Shit. I can cook a solid dinner for a crowd with nothin' but flint, steel, a coupla logs, and a fish I caught that mornin'. Kitchens and cookware don't matter all that much to me. But, we all have our own priorities don't we?

                                  If you need the fancy clubs to play eighteen, fine. I play with the old Titleists my Grandfather willed to me..

                                  Now, I'm just askin'? These days, I either paddle out on my '63 Noll or the '75 Bolt. I used the former this mornin'. You?

                                  All I'm really tryin' to say, is WOW! That stick must hurt! Clearly you are better off than most. Relish that fact. One percent problems are lost on me.

                        3. re: jgg13

                          even if that were true, the homes with nice kitchens usually get sold much more quickly.

                          hard to quantify how much that is "worth" to a seller.

                        4. re: chowser

                          A high end home with a crappy kitchen will simply sell for less, the buyer will take the need for a kitchen remodel into account in making an offer and the seller will capitulate or wait.

                          We saw a house a few years ago that was priced upwards of $500K. They did a half-assed job installing a lower quality Home Depot kitchen with poor quality tile and other questionable finishes. The realtor was showing off all he "new" features, all I could think about was the wasted money that was now tacked onto the seller's expectations because most buyers would view the "new" kitchen as a $75K-$100K liability.

                          1. re: ferret

                            i've been touring mid-priced homes that have received the "treatment" by house-flippers.
                            it truly is amazing how awful some of their "new" kitchens and "new" bathrooms can be.

                            to me, they ruined the house trying to up the price

                            1. re: westsidegal

                              I'm always amazed how many of these look nearly identical. We get a lot of gut job flips near where I am and they're all so similar to each other it is crazy. The same 2-3 types of granite, the same 2-3 appliances, the same 2-3 flooring options. Contrast that with the homes that have been updated more organically, huge difference.

                              1. re: jgg13

                                don't forget to add: the same framed, particle board cabinets, the "contractor special" flooring, and all the bathrooms have the same prefab vanities that were manufactured in china.

                      2. re: westsidegal

                        This made me smile because I was calling on a house recently. The realtor told me right off I'd have to redo the kitchen and bathrooms. I saw the photos online. The kitchen looked fine to me. I mentioned it to my mother later that day as she also looked at the house online. She informed me that obviously I had no taste as there were no granite or stained concrete counters. I am a heathen.

                        1. re: Firegoat

                          My whole point is simply about math not individual preferences. If spending $2,500 (i'm just using random numbers) on granite countertops would get you a $5,000 return on a house sale (or let you break even but sell the house quicker) then it wouldn't be a frivolous expenditure even if you personally saw no need for it.

                          That's what the realtor was alluding to, not that your kitchen is unattractive.

                          We had a very nice kitchen which had higher-end appliances and laminate countertops when we bought it. We waited until last year to add granite even though (and because) we were planning on selling the home soon. I truly believe that we sold quickly (within a few days) because buyers' expectations were met in that they had to do nothing before moving in.

                          1. re: ferret

                            My original point was that spending 2.5k on granite countertops was not going to give you a 5k increase in resale value and more likely something less than 2.5k (ignoring some of the tangents that have been raised such as 'can sell it quicker'), in other words one better enjoy what they're buying to some extent as they're not going to recoup 100% of what they put in most likely.

                            1. re: jgg13

                              There are many, who do not care that much about resale value. They want things, for themselves, and if they recoup some of the expense, so be it.

                              Not everyone is trying to flip their homes.

                              We are doing a major renovation, but just for ourselves. We are not asking what we can recoup, and only "is this what we want?"

                              We did the same with our home in Colorado, where we renovated, just for us. Now, we DID recoup all expenses, but that was not our driving intent. The changes were for US.

                              Some only care about recouping every $, and that is their choice. Noting wrong with that. However, if I plan on living in a house for 15 years, it's then about me.


                              1. re: jgg13

                                <<some of the tangents that have been raised such as 'can sell it quicker>>

                                speaking as licensed real estate broker and an nmls mortgage broker: the time element in real estate transactions is hardly a "tangent".

                                real estate transactions are very often extremely time sensitive especially during times like these when the market is volatile.

                                time is even MORE important when both the market and interest rates are volatile.

                                1. re: westsidegal

                                  Agreed, although what I was saying was that my original point was purely one of resale value. It was then presented that XYZ would allow one to make a sale quicker, which is *not* the same as selling it for more money.

                                  Also, purely anecdotally regarding my area, many places are on and off the market in less than a couple of weeks. People I know who are actively house hunting figure that any place that's been on the market longer than 2 weeks has something wrong with it and tend to not bother looking closer.

                                  1. re: jgg13

                                    i've been around long enough to have seen both types of markets (three cycles, to be exact. yes, i'm that old).

                                    in a rapidly falling market (for the young people on the board: there is such a thing) the seller of the house makes less money if the house takes longer to sell.

                                    even in a stable market, if the house is vacant during the sales period, the carrying costs (insurance, real estate taxes, mortgage interest,utilities, etc.) will have a financial impact on the seller not to mention the increased risk of vandalism/theft. some sellers put a big chain link fence around their vacant property to prevent the vandalism/theft, and that fence reduces the sales price/demand for that house.

                                    in a falling or stable market, it is FAR FAR better to sell the house quickly. of course, in a rapidly rising market with low inventory all decent homes will be selling quickly in any case.

                                    i know the data about kitchens that you are citing.
                                    the flaw, in my view is that in practically all cases they assume that the market is flat during the time it takes to sell the properties and they don't take carrying costs into account when they do their calculations. ( they look at similar properties that are closing escrow at the same time.)
                                    since most of the time, the real estate market is not flat the value of those studies as a decision making tool is, in my opinion, very low.

                        2. re: ferret

                          All the more reason to stop watching tv. We rarely do except for the evening news and Colbert and John Stewart. We are big readers.

                        3. There are more Viagra and other testosterone commercials than food.

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: treb

                            I seriously doubt that. they just stick out(pun intended), because they bother you.

                            1. re: TroyTempest

                              all depends on what you watch. my b/f watches mostly sports. during football and baseball games it's viagra and flomax. during hockey it's trucks. during the local evening news? ads for so many different meds, scooters and diapers i think it must be only incontinent, immobile shut-ins watching.

                              the food network ceased being about learning to really cook when it went from chefs to personalities. i haven't watched in over a decade.

                              1. re: hotoynoodle

                                So agree with you on the Food Network, they need to get back to basics.

                          2. I have been in a number of those $50,000 show off kitchens and I can tell they have really never been used. I know exactly where you are coming from emglow.

                            32 Replies
                            1. re: mrbigshotno.1

                              Expensive, barely used kitchen as well as the people that don't really care about food or cooking that have all of the dream kitchen prep tools I could ever want, but they never use.

                              I also knew a woman that lived in a three person household that had three ovens and four dishwashers. Conspicuous consumption.

                              1. re: aasg

                                my kitchen designer designed one like that for a couple that formally entertains large groups regularly.

                                multiple appliances are really a necessity if you are having 3 course, sit down dinners for 20 people on a regular basis.

                                during these dinners there were usually 5 or 6 people working in the kitchen in order to keep up.

                                four dishwashers would allow you to have all the dishes washed and put away before the catering staff left.

                                  1. re: NanaMoussecurry

                                    That's fairly loony. No sane person would install - or waste space on - four dishwashers. We bought a used Hobart commercial dishwasher that runs a full wash and rinse cycle in about 2 minutes (rated at 30 loads an hour). It uses standard restaurant racks. That machine will handle anything you throw at it.

                                    1. re: ferret

                                      Wow. Really? I think it depends on how much you entertain. As westsidegal said, the couple she was speaking of formally entertained LARGE GROUPS on a regular basis (i.e., 20 people). I can totally see needing several dishwashers to keep up.

                                      Oh - and if they can afford 4 dishwashers and to serve 20 people on a regular basis? They aren't wasting space, as I'm assuming their home can more than accommodate.

                                      1. re: LindaWhit

                                        Yeah, pretty much really. And as I pointed out there are solutions especially well suited to high volume dish washing so installing 4 is just silly.

                                        1. re: ferret

                                          In your opinion. Obviously the homeowners feel differently. And while I'm not a fan of conspicuous consumption, it's their money - they can do with it what they wish. If that means 4 dishwashers, so be it.

                                          1. re: LindaWhit

                                            I have no issue with anyone doing anything, but I'm free to opine that it's a silly waste of space when there are better options out there. There's conspicuous consumption and there's nonsensical consumption. I designed high-end kitchens years ago (well into 6 figures) and in all our installations I never once saw 4 dishwashers.

                                            1. re: ferret

                                              I am curious what the "better options" are if you routinely serve entire meals to 20+ people? ‘Cause I would love to know!

                                              I serve 12-15 people 2-3 times of year. My dishwasher supposedly holds 16 “place settings" but the reality is that it doesn't hold 16 of *my* place settings. A typical Easter/Thanksgiving meal has me running the dishwasher, packed to the gills, a min of 6 times, some times more if there are multiple courses. I often dream of having a separate dishwasher just for my glassware in my everyday life, never mind the holidays. If I entertained like that once a month I sure as hell would want a more than dishwasher. Now bump that to twenty people?? Yikes.

                                              I guess a home owner could invest in a commercial Hobart but I don’t think that would save any money plus those babies use a TON of water and are not necessarily attractive so where to put the damn thing. Having multiples mean you would only use when you needed them.

                                              1. re: foodieX2

                                                The commercial Hobart is used at nearly every Starbucks I've visited. It's the same size as a standard residential dishwasher and uses much less water. The model we have is a 220V unit with a built-in heater that reaches a 192-degree sanitizing temperature (about a 15-second rinse) and the wash cycle lasts 90 seconds. It's louder than a Bosch or Miele, but the entire wash/rinse lasts about 2 minutes. We have entertained 20 or more with some frequency and I It rarely takes more than 6 loads to clean up afterwards and I'm done (with the dishes, at least) in under half an hour; getting the house back in order takes appreciably longer, but there's no machine for that.

                                                Here's a photo:


                                                There are, unfortunately, many restaurants that go out of business every month and there are restaurant equipment houses that resell these (barely) used at a great discount.

                                                Again, if someone wants 4 dishwashers, who am I to care? I just think it's the wrong approach.

                                                1. re: ferret

                                                  Got it- so your "solution" for me is to run a dishwasher 6+ times for every party. Hmmm-seems like that is what I am already doing.

                                                  And if I was building/renovating my home the solution is to buy a commerical machine and run it 6+ times as opposed having a couple and running those only a few times.

                                                  Doesn't seem like much of a solution.

                                                  1. re: foodieX2

                                                    You're missing that it's 6 loads IN TWENTY MINUTES. It's a 2-minute cycle. All six loads are clean at the end of the twenty minute period.

                                                    1. re: ferret

                                                      No I didn't miss it. Your "solution" to me was to replace my perfectly good working dishwasher with a used commercial one, one that is loud. I would still have to run it six it times. Time is not the issue, space is. The way you were talking I thought you had a more efficient way of getting the job done when entertaining large groups. Replacing my existing is not what I would call a “solution”.

                                                      And if I was truly renovating I would not want the typical commercial machine in my kitchen for everyday use. I don’t just don’t it need it. I can see someone who has large parties on a regular basis including one or two of those in their catering kitchen or large pantry. However, I still see them as wanting high end super quiet one in their everyday kitchen.

                                                      Heck I went on a house tour for “famous” person around here and his master bath had a mini kitchen with dishwasher between the his/her sides of the bathrooms. There was 1 in his main kitchen, one in the bar area for glassware, 2 in his downstairs catering kitchen and one with his outdoor kitchen. Excessive yes but not when you think about convenience rather than getting them done in the fastest manner possible. Why schlep things all over house and pile them up on the counters if you don’t have to??

                                                      1. re: foodieX2

                                                        I'm not trying to sell you on anything. If you (or let's just refer to a hypothetical person) have a need for multiple loads on a regular basis then the options are more machines or a more efficient machine. If you (or hypothetical) believes space is not an issue then there's your answer.

                                                        As for noise, a superquiet machine makes plenty of sense when a cycle takes 90 minutes, it's less of an issue when a cycle takes 2 minutes. As for the complaint that it requires 6 loads in one machine, it'll take 6 loads in 6 machines also. And also for 90 minutes. My suggestion means the dishes go from dirty to put away in a half hour. It's also a fine solution for a single load. I often use it to clean the grill grates or pans from our smoker, which may take several cycles in this or any other machine. I'm done and everything is put away in minutes. It's far more energy and water efficient than a residential unit.

                                                        I'm not telling you to go out and get one.

                                              2. re: ferret

                                                Perhaps "years ago", 4 dishwashers weren't the thing to have. Now they are. At least for some. :::shrug:::

                                                1. re: LindaWhit

                                                  Hope they are low on water intake, one day we will all have to worry about our consumption of it.

                                                  1. re: LindaWhit

                                                    "years ago" automatic transmissions and power windows and power door locks weren't the things to have on your car......

                                                2. re: LindaWhit

                                                  Unfortunately, I live in a place that, when these people reach retirement, if they haven't saved their money because of conspicuous consumption, they are receiving more government benefits than people who were more frugal and have more savings, so in the end, their conspicuous consumption is my business.

                                                  1. re: aasg

                                                    Hell, I'm so far from bein' a conspicuous consumer. Nonetheless, I can't help but note that that generalization is lousy. I gotta ask, have you spoken with all these folks? Heard their tales? Or, just do you think the government shouldn't help people when they need it? Bitter is the worst taste of all, I assure you.

                                                    1. re: MGZ

                                                      It isn't a generalization. My original reference to four dishwashers was about the conspicuous consumption of someone very specific that I know and that in turn, am well aware of financial difficulties created by such decisions. So please don't generalize about what I said by assuming that I was generalizing. Assuming people don't have a rational basis for their arguments because they haven't "heard tales" from people that don't even apply to the specific situation they are referring to is definitely worse than anything bitter.

                                                      Ferret, when I am aware of a specific situation and the circumstances, is isn't jumping to conclusions.

                                                      1. re: aasg

                                                        Just to be clear, you know of one person who did something careless, and then proceeded to refer to "these people" and "they". Umm, I forget, what's that called?

                                                        1. re: MGZ

                                                          Sorry, should I have referred to Mr. & Mrs. and their daughter specifically to avoid using they?

                                                          I guess in the end, I should be happy that I don't feel the need to put a dishwasher in my living room to avoid taking water cups to the kitchen like "these (very specific) people." If I meant to refer to some vast section of people, I would I have said "people" not "these people."

                                                            1. re: aasg

                                                              <<Personal pronouns?>>

                                                              I have a few of those, but seldom let them out of my sight - no telling what mischief they might get into.


                                                      2. re: aasg

                                                        Without desiring taking this thread in another direction, it's a bit of a jump to conclude that people who have lavish lifestyles are all doing it on a hope and a prayer and lots of credit. There's an ever-increasing segment of the population spending - and earning - at the highest levels. The rich are getting richer and there are more of them. They'll do fine in retirement without government benefits. I doubt people living paycheck to paycheck aren't blowing it on three ovens and four dishwashers.

                                                  2. re: LindaWhit

                                                    I think it also makes a difference if you keep a certain food religion. I've had several friends with two dishwashers to prevent one type of food contaminating another.

                                                    1. re: Firegoat

                                                      There are always specialized needs for things in a kitchen, especially for maintaining kosher or other dietary restrictions. This is more like buying three refrigerator-freezers because you occasionally need a lot of ice rather than buying a dedicated icemaker.

                                                    2. re: LindaWhit

                                                      not only could that particular home accommodate the dishwashers, iirc, the kitchens in their other 4 homes could also accommodate four dishwashers.

                                                      the kitchens were mainly used by the personal chefs, the event planners, and the caterers.

                                                3. re: westsidegal

                                                  I assure you this woman was not having 3 course, sit down dinners for 20 people on a regular basis. My mother has multi-course sit down dinners with options of multiple proteins on a regular basis for 8-10 people and functions just fine as the sole cook with one dishwasher and one oven.

                                                  In any case, the person I knew wasn't bringing staff in to prepare meals and assist on a regular basis. Her dishwashers were also scattered throughout her home, so I doubt there would be people running to dishwashers throughout the home throughout a dinner party. It was so that people didn't have to leave one room to put a cup in a dishwasher.

                                                  But I would say hiring staff on a regular basis to help host guests in your home doesn't make it justified consumption, just even more conspicuous consumption.

                                                  1. re: aasg

                                                    i disagree about hiring staff if one has the means. it allows the host to spend the entire event with guests and not be over a hot stove, carving, plating, serving, bussing, scraping, washing, drying, etc.

                                                    numerous friends i had growing up had live-in staff. it would be outrageous to people in those circumstances to attend a party that didn't have hired help. context, ya know?

                                                    1. re: hotoynoodle

                                                      my former roommate used to supplement her income by staffing such parties over the holidays.

                                                      the crews never left the residence before all the dishes were washed and put away, the table was clear and clean, and the kitchen counters were clear and clean.

                                                      i'm sure the housekeeper came the next day to do the floors and the laundry. . ..

                                                    2. re: aasg

                                                      fortunately for them and for most of the folks at that socioeconomic level in their world of international finance, they really don't worry about "justifying" anything to the likes of you or me.
                                                      they have the money.
                                                      they have the real estate.
                                                      they have the cash flow.
                                                      they really don't need to think about "justifying" how many dishwashers or houses they have.

                                              3. Depending how you see it. I agree that there are some excessive marketing going on, like the numerous food shows you were talking about -- when people who watch them do not cook. However, it is not overblown simply because one is to enjoy foods. It is one of the basic things in life and frankly basic human enjoyment in life.

                                                It is one of the necessities of life, but it is exactly because of this that it can also be a great enjoyment. It is something which anyone can potentially understand and appreciate, unlike music or art or spots. The moment we are born, we learn to like and dislike foods. It does not take a great amount of wealth or education to appreciate foods. We don't want to turn into snobs which think expensive food equal great food, but it is a good thing that people learn to enjoy and appreciate food -- appreciate the simple things in life.

                                                Talking about necessities of life. One can definitely find more excessive in the others like clothing and shelter and transportation. Just look at the really expensive clothing, houses, cars. I would argue that food is not where like these three.