Rachel's Table

KING of the Food Snobs

A while back, I wrote a post about how I was fearful of becoming a food snob. After boring my friends with talk of grass-fed meat, local eggs, and the evils of Taco Bell, I feared the worst – I was a genuine food snob with elitist views about butter, produce, and even oatmeal.

To make myself feel better about my snobbery, I regularly visit an intriguing blog authored by my friend, Sean–Skinny Girls and Mayonnaise. In my opinion, Sean is the ULTIMATE food snob. He hosts fancy-schmancy dinner parties for sixty people, serves dishes with names like “Caspian Still-Life,” hangs out with real-life chefs (and James Bond), and much to my jealous chagrin, keeps his own chickens. For these reasons, and oh-so-many-more, I call him KING of the Food Snobs.

So here he is to share his thoughts on this dubious title in an essay aptly named, “Accepting my Fate as King of the Food Snobs”:

Introducing Sean, King of the Food Snobs (photo credit goes to Sean's son, Flynn, Prince of the Food Snobs)

Introducing Sean, King of the Food Snobs (photo credit goes to Sean’s son, Flynn, Prince of the Food Snobs)

It was on a fateful late June morning that Rachel dubbed me “King of the Food Snobs”. Commenting on this blog about Rachel’s “Food Snobs Anonymous” post (June 26), I had pointed out that things had gotten so bad at our house that my 9-year-old son would take one look at his dinner and challenge me: “Dad, is this Maldon salt??”

Little did I realize that this innocent-enough comment would result in my being crowned with this somewhat dubious distinction. (“I think we’ll hang your photo in our club meeting room,” she wrote.)

The subject had come up several times previously between our two blogs and our vague daydreams about one day having a cooking show together. (“I’d be the down to earth one,” Rachel would say, “And you’d be the elitist cheffy snob.”) On a recent post of mine, for example, I’d pointed out that I’d arrived at a pizza-making party armed with duck confit, house-cured and -smoked salmon, homemade Chinese plum sauce, San Marzano tomatoes from the garden, pancetta, Spanish chorizo, radicchio and squid tentacles. “OMG,” Rachel commented, “This is why you are the ultimate food snob – you bring your OWN ingredients to the dinner party.”

I’ll admit it. My name is Sean and I’m a food snob. (“Hi Sean…”) But my food snobbishness, such as it is, comes not from any arrogance or feelings of superiority to the rest of you. It comes from a passion for great ingredients prepared with care, respect and mindfulness (in other words: “Don’t leave that @#%$ing salmon on the grill so long!!! That fish DIED for you!!”)

Am I food snob because I enjoy the simple pleasure of cutting a carrot on the diagonal, versus some obnoxious young chef who thinks he’s done something unique by “creating” carrot cardamom ice cream (when they’ve been eating in India for centuries)? By that definition I could argue that we are all food snobs, and who are YOU to disagree with that!? You, after all, are reading food blogs for pleasure.

I thought it might be helpful, being the King and all, to offer up to Rachel and her humble readers some guidance to criteria for citizenship in the Commonwealth of Food Snobbishness. Check and see if you recognize yourself in any of these:

• You bring a basket to the farmer’s market.

• You nod as a friend tells you about their experience at a particular restaurant, because you too had a similar experience.

• Your heart flutters when your issue of Saveur or Cooks Illustrated arrives in the mail.

• “Grass-fed,” “local,” “non-GMO” and “seasonal” are regular parts of  your speech.

• You like to discuss “Omnivore’s Dilemma” at dinner parties.

• A good day involves patronizing at least two ethnic markets.

• The name, “Bobby Flay,” makes you wince.

• Your pantry contains 12 different kinds of vinegar, and you have separate olive oils for cooking and drizzling.

• You’ve looked on Twitter to see where a particular food truck would be parked that day.

• You’re proud of the fact that you love not only Michelin-starred restaurants, but gritty taco stands and grungy Chinese joints in strip malls.

• Thomas Keller is your hero.

If you match five to seven or more of the above criteria, you too are a food snob. Welcome! {A note from Rachel: I’m going to be honest – seven of these are true of me. The French Laundry Cookbook by Thomas Keller is one of my prized possessions; I could look through it all day.}

It’s not so bad, really. As my friend Derek says, it’s a “fancy problem.” (Derek and his wife Cristina are currently struggling with life in Malibu because there aren’t as many trees as in Topanga, where they used to live.) If I’m upset because I can only find DuBreton pork belly at the upscale food provision store and not Iberico Bellota, I can live with that. I can’t solve all the world’s problems, and I’m not hurting anyone. I eat well, honor the ingredients that go into my food, and my friends and family benefit from the fruits of my labors — from, you might say, my snobbishness.

So it is with a Hamlet-like sense of resignation that I accept my destiny. My parents were foisting escargot on me and taking pleasure in my pronunciation of “Pouilly-Fuisse” when I was barely out of diapers. I never stood a chance…


  1. I am only a little bit of a food snob. In fact I aspire to be MORE of a food snob! I think it is a noble thing to show so much respect for the food you eat. No judgement here. I will however, pair exquisite food with mediocre wine – which kind of ruins things… Oh well!

    • I do the SAME thing! I always tease Sean that I ONLY drink box wine (which is not true). But I’m not ashamed to spend $6 for a bottle and enjoy it with my more posh local ingredient dinner. It’s all about respect! (And sometimes I have to respect my wallet more than my wine.)

  2. Oh! Thank God! I’ve been so worried that I’m becoming a food snob. Fortunately, since I don’t ever, ever, ever check Twitter for any food trucks (like I would trust anything they have to serve me!!), I’m obviously not a food snob. Nevermind that that’s the only criteria that I don’t fit… Really. Never you mind. And, while you’re not minding, don’t look behind the green curtain either.

  3. I’m honored to continue membership in your Food Snob club. I even know which food trucks grow their own veggies. Duuuh. Homemade ketchup, please. Do I have to admit that I scored a 100% on the quiz? Oh, that’s just bragging …

  4. Love the crown! With 5 kinds of vinegar and 3 kinds of olive oil, I was looking hopeful until I remembered we have no food trucks in North Dakota. Sigh. We eat at Taco Bell for a reason- we have no tacos on wheels and no ethnic markets.

  5. Bobby who?

    I love Vinegars, but part of this goes to my love for annoying my husband with the smell (he hates them). I love ethnic markets, but living in the far NE of Dallas they are not easy to find and those in town, well lets just say you are risking your life in some of them. But my Farmers Market, it is the best!

  6. I resemble many of those points (vinegars, different oils for cooking and salads, Bobby Flay hater) but because there is practically NOTHING I won’t eat, I guess I’m not a food snob. I do draw the line at used-to-be-living beings — super picky about “who” I eat and how they were raised and/or dispatched.

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