It sounds like something your Aunt Ida says when she goes out for sushi but the term Fancy Food is more than a way to say gourmet, it's an actual grade for the quality for food, as decided by officials in the United States and Canadian food and beverage industry.
Producers must comply with strict regulations in order to attain the status, the only higher grade being extra fancy. While this food grading is applied differently depending on the commodity, overall the grading boils down to: how close to “perfect” the food is.
Countries around the world have individual ways of defining perfection in their food system that are the equivalent to our fancy food.
In Italy, for instance, D.O.C. or D.O.P or Denominazione di Origine Protetta means the origins of the food are protected by a legal standard, much like French Champagne which only carries this title if grown and produced in its eponymous region in Reins.
Food quality is so important Italy, food grades have even made their way into the language. When someone wants to show off their local cred, they might use the term “D.O.C” to describe their own authenticity, like: “Cacio e Pepe is my favorite dish, I’m definitely Roman D.O.C.”
In the United States, The Fancy Food Show is one of the most important trade shows in the industry, happening twice a year in June and December, in the coastal cities of San Francisco and New York. Chefs, buyers, journalists, and entrepreneurs come from around the world to attend the show not only for the comradery and to place orders, but to learn what new food trends we can expect to see in the coming year.
The show doesn't boast the same flair as trade shows in the fashion industry like Pitti Uomo in Florence for instance, but for the luxury food sector it is a critical source of information that will determine how the market will be affected and what's on the table for next year for luxury consumers.
The luxury sector functions almost as its own category, interconnected across industries, serving a common level of clientele with specific standards for quality. In a world where collaborations have become a marketing staple for brands and manufacturers, fancy food trends can be an indicator of what other luxury brands will be following and investing in.
Fancy Food as a food grade designation in such accelerated markets such as the United States and Canada has become more than a regional category but a harbinger of new trends and innovation that has a ripple effect across global markets.