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Can BBQ Be Considered a Gourmet Food?? I Think SO!

Posted By: Richard Wachtel
Published: July 25, 2017


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A while back I was having a conversation about my passion and love for Grilling and Barbecue, and it got a bit heated because this person was arguing with me that Barbecue specifically isn’t considered a “Gourmet Food.” Well after this heated conversation I thought to myself, does this person even have a point? Does barbecue fit into the Gourmet Food category and more importantly what makes a cuisine gourmet?

Grilling with Rich BBQ Op-Ed

So with the task at hand, I took the internet and first did a search on what is the true the definition of Gourmet foodGourmet Food is defined as: a connoisseur of fine food and drink; Epicure or f or characteristic of a gourmet, especially in involving or supporting to involve high-quality or exotic ingredients and skilled preparation: gourmet meals; gourmet cooking. And lastly: elaborately equipped for the preparation of fancy, specialized, or exotic meals: a gourmet kitchen.

We all know that there is a big difference between barbecue fair that you serve at a barbecue competition and barbecue food that you eat your local BBQ joint. We also know that many people who walk into a bbq restaurant think that they are going to be getting the same exact food that you would get at a barbecue competition. While it would be nice to get exactly the same type of food that you get at a barbecue completion at your local barbecue restaurant it is just not possible due to the fact that at a barbecue restaurant you are making food for the masses and at a barbecue conception you are only making food for a few people.

When I first started to think about this article and this debate that I had, it was in 2012 and barbecue was moving into the main stream of cooking and popularity due to the fact of TV shows like BBQ Pitmasters, Best in Smoke and others. Many people have been smoking foods for years in their backyards for years and years with techniques, recipes and more passed down from generation to generation.

It wasn’t until 2015, three years later from my initial thought and debate, when BBQ restaurateur Aaron Franklin from Franklin Barbecue in Austin Texas took home the title of Best Chef: Southwest by the legendary James Beard Foundation that I was completely sold that barbecue fair can, in fact, be considered gourmet food.

From that point forward it was super clear to me that yes barbecue fair can, in fact, be considered gourmet food and here is why I think so.

To me, gourmet food can be considered something that takes a long time to not only prepare and requires a certain skill set to accomplish on a very high level and great barbecue requires both. You can not simply throw a large piece of brisket or a pork shoulder into a smoker sit back and relax and hope and pray that it comes out perfect. In order to really perfect and does, in fact, require some highly specialized equipment to achieve that perfect smoky flavors that everyone loves to enjoy. In addition, you can now find barbecue food that which the main ingredients can be in fact exotic such as different types of fish, meats such as bison, alligator and crocodile meats just to name a few.

After Aaron Franklin’s James Beard achievement in 2015, there have been numerous barbecue pitmasters that have cooked at the legendary James Beard House in New York City and have really put barbecue on the culinary map around the world. BBQ pitmasters such as World Champions Chris Lilly and Tuffy Stone have helped elevate barbecue into one of the most popular food categories in the last couple of years.

To me, and many others around the world, barbecue isn’t just something that you do during the hot summer months, on a weekend it is a lifestyle full of achievements and passion. The sheer number of individuals who barbecue year round in all different climates has grown dramatically and individuals have helped perfected their craft in smoking meats and shared their passion with others, truly takes barbecue to the same level as a gourmet food.

Gone are the days of barbecue being considered just something that a few people do only on the weekends during the summer and hello to the days of barbecue enthusiasts around the world trying to create masterpieces in the smoker on a daily basis for the masses.

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