In my life, I have had many experiences in which connoisseurs have surrounded me. I have been around them so much that I have even adopted some of their qualities. This is very unusual because a connoisseur is usually somebody that is older and has had a lot of experience in the subject. Nevertheless, there are many varieties connoisseurs out there in the world, yet many of them have certain characteristics that make them similar to their peers.
One thing that all connoisseurs must have to receive the designation is an extensive knowledge of the subject matter. If you were to ask the connoisseur a question about the area, they should be able to give you a well-articulated response regardless of how specific the question may be. That being said, a connoisseur is not just an expert. While an expert may be all knowing as well, the connoisseur is able to distinguish the good from the bad. The connoisseur’s opinion must be credible. He or she must display an intrinsic penchant for assessing the quality of any item in the category of expertise and be able to explain the nuances of why one is better than the other. This evaluative ability does not come from training, but rather from personal experience and intuition. In other words, you can’t teach someone to be a connoisseur; they must have the “sixth sense” ingrained. Furthermore, the ability to assess is not a difficult task, but rather a quick and easy response. The connoisseur does not do research to provide an evaluation. He or she “just knows”. Finally, the connoisseur’s word is the final word in the subject. This means that unless around other connoisseurs of the same discipline, the connoisseur possesses the only valid opinion.
One area in which connoisseurs differ is in their attitude. There is a whole spectrum of the way connoisseurs project themselves. On one end, you have those who are extremely humble considering their ability and are happy to share their knowledge with anybody in a down to earth style. On the other end of the spectrum are those people that are extremely arrogant because of their knowledge. These people tend to be very wealthy and they talk down to everybody else because they simply do not possess the same ability. Of course, there are also many people in between the two extremes.
The New York Times article, “You Call This Thai Food? The Robotic Taster Will Be the Judge,” by Thomas Fuller helps highlight the exceptional qualities of a connoisseur. The e-delicious is not a connoisseur in any sense. While it is able to assign a rating to different curries, it does it through a series of scientific metrics. This machine is not a connoisseur because it lacks the emotional input needed to evaluate and compare. Its fixed set of metrics limit the scope of evaluation. On the other hand, a human connoisseur is multi-faceted and has a broad range of assessment. Ultimately, a machine will never be able to replace a human in the evaluation of something so subjective as food.