What Makes Someone a Foodie? Experts Weigh In

I was recently immersed in casual conversation at a social function and referred to myself as a "foodie." The person I was speaking to looked at me quizzically, and asked “what makes someone a foodie...doesn't everyone like food?”

To this, I replied with my own personal off-the-cuff definition of a foodie relative to why I consider myself one and what it generally means to me. My answer was this: “For a foodie, eating is more than an act…it’s an experience. Foodies don’t just eat a meal, they revel in it and regard all facets of the dish in the process: the ingredients used as well as how and where they were sourced, the preparation (and skill related thereto), taste, texture, smell and presentation.”

I was not at all prepared to answer this question so specifically, but was relatively satisfied with my on-the-fly answer that duly conveyed how I personally identify with the word “foodie.” The question weighed on me however, as I later wondered if I had defined it correctly in a universal sense. Had I aptly conveyed the intended sentiments that most associate with the word “foodie” — a moniker I wear with much pride?

In pondering this, I decided to query applicable industry purveyors who would have an interesting and presumably on-point perspective of the word. Here are some of the easily digestible definitions and perceptions of the term “foodie” that I received:

"Foodies are people that talk while they're eating. Maybe not with their mouth full, but they talk about the experience of what they’re eating, how it's cooked, who cooked it, the history of the dish, and more. Those things are all to be discussed, explored, and passed on as part of enjoying any meal. So the greater the diversity of what you eat, or the more fascinating the history - the more you have to talk about - and true Foodies seek that out more than others." --Andrea Cutright, Foodily

“A foodie is someone who delights in all things food related and seeks the high quality experience and taste. Today foodies unite for events, grub crawls, Yelp reviews, and even persuade restaurant owners to change menu items.” --Brandon Sowers, BAMGAM.ORG

“A foodie is someone who seeks out experiences through flavor.” --Babette Pepaj,

“A foodie is a person who is concerned enough about what they eat to search out the "best" food, know its source or provenance, and cares about flavor, taste, texture, aroma more than how much they can eat and how much it costs. Foodies often also want to eat seasonal. Locally and sustainably produced food, too.” --Jill Nussinow, The Veggie Queen

“The great differences between a foodie and person that just likes to eat, comes down to those who make it their mission to try every new restaurant and cuisine, those who spare no expense when it comes to eating out, and those who consider their free time to be a search for gastronomic delight; a foodie will go above and beyond, both budget and means, in an attempt to try the latest and greatest food around.” --Simon Joseph, BiteHunter, Inc.
“The defining principles between a foodie and a eater of food is that a foodie delves into the why's, the flavors and the pairings of foods, always searching for defining moments, creating, and the uniqueness of the combinations. Although not an expert in the field as a Chef, a foodie revels in the newness of it, almost like a child at Christmas.” --Chef Mary Beth Lawton Johnson, Executive Pastry Chef, Chef de Cuisine

“A foodie is a person who wants every bite to be an experience. Whether it’s simple comfort food or a complex dish, foodies want it fresh, carefully prepared and memorably seasoned. Foodies don’t drive thru, but they do walk up to trucks, trailers or stands.” --Chef Chic Henderson, Potato-Potahto
“A foodie is somebody who likes to eat, definitively, however also a person who knows about food, where it comes from, what is in season, proper cooking techniques, responsibility how it is caught (fish) or raised (cattle, chicken, etc.). Who never overeats, who is ready to accept that cooking sometimes takes longer than 20 minutes, somebody who can enjoy, a gourmet, somebody who likes a large plate with little food on it.” --Ula Robertson, At Your Service NY Catering

“A foodie is someone who is extremely passionate about food; it's a way of life for them. They are in the know and want to be the first in their group to find out about the newest trends such as an up and coming chef, restaurant openings, restaurant pop ups and cannot miss the weekly local farmers market. Foodies are extremely knowledgeable about the food they are eating while someone who loves food may not know where the food came from but enjoys the dining experience. [A Quintessential] foodie dish: brown butter basted abalone with roasted sweet corn speatzle and a Bordelaise jus." --Chris Brugler, Chris Brugler Catering
“As a personal chef, I believe the difference is truly the appreciation of ingredients, subtle flavors and unique flavors. Someone who loves to eat will enjoy a good meal. A foodie will know that you used porcini mushrooms over generic, yuzu over lemon juice and champagne vinegar in their dressing. The foodie questions the ingredients, discusses the recipe. The lover just wants seconds. Lovers order what they know in a restaurant. Foodies order what’s different. Lovers shop one grocery store. Foodies will spend the day visiting specialty shops for ingredients. It is truly love vs. passion.” --Laura MacDougall, Home Plate Advantage

With these disparate foodies conveying remarkably similar sentiments, sensibility and outright emotion around the word in question, one thing is clear: foodies are cut from the same cloth - indubitably a tablecloth.
Photo Courtesy of Thinkstock

Merilee Kern

Forbes Business Council Member Merilee Kern, MBA is an internationally-regarded brand analyst, strategist and futurist who reports on noteworthy industry change makers, movers, shakers and innovators across all categories, both B2C and B2B. This includes field experts and thought leaders, brands, products, services, destinations and events. Merilee is Founder, Executive Editor and Producer of “T...(Read More)

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