According to the Urban Dictionary, gastrosexual is a term used to describe men who cook, using it to impress friends and prospective partners – according a recent survey, men are now spending more time in the kitchen than in the garage.
Iconic, high-profile celebrity chefs like Jamie Oliver, Saturday Morning Kitchens James Martin and Heston Blumenthal, have helped create the perception of cookery as a macho pursuit. Mr Ramsay even famously declared that women "can’t cook to save their lives". The latest trend of celebrity chefs inviting the TV viewing British public into their personal kitchens is providing inspiration for a growing number of men to discover cooking as a hobby.
But men not only aspire to be their culinary heroes, they aspire to have their kitchens too.
So, bigger work surfaces, kitchen islands, multiple sinks, eye level storage, the latest gadgets and sociable, well-designed spaces are all being demanded. Whats more, the look of kitchens is evolving to reflect male tastes and aspirations.
Five years ago Daval, the UKs leading custom-built kitchen manufacturer that can bring individual possibilities and ideas to life through its bespoke option-I technology, was selling homely looking, shaker style kitchens by the truckload. With its traditional feel and soft edges, it certainly couldnt have been described as macho!
But now, industrial, sleeker, more masculine kitchens are becoming increasingly popular. Daval reports that Black Gloss finishes and simple slab doors are currently its best sellers and start from around £10,000.
Because it cuts each kitchen to order, this has given Daval a real-time insight into changing needs. Larger scale everything is now being demanded super wide drawers and cupboards, giant preparation areas and more intelligent internal storage solutions for easy access to a wide variety of ingredients.
Most interesting is the switch towards islands either stand-alone or breakfast bar style. Jamie Oliver started a revolution when he unleashed the Naked Chef. He reinvented informal eating; socialising while cooking for his mates. Hangover breakfasts, brunches and afternoon through to evening family cooking events all happened in the kitchen preparation of food was the key entertainment factor and everyone had a role. An explosion in islands followed on.
Everyone wants islands, says Simon Bodsworth of Daval. Social interaction is key, and aside from gadgets, this is the biggest result of the gastrosexual generation.
The archetypal gastrosexual is masculine, upwardly mobile, and aged between about 25 and 45. Hes passionate about cooking and the rewards it might bring, whether this is pleasure, praise or even romance and sometimes dubbed as men-tertainers.
The suggested reasons for this include the fact that an increased proportion of women now work 70% in 2008. This has led to a positive demand for more help in the home, and it seems that men prefer to focus on cooking as the most creative and enjoyable aspect of domestic work, as opposed to other chores cleaning for instance!
A recent study shows that men are more likely to spend their time in the kitchen than getting their hands dirty in the garage. Research suggests that men are 30% more likely to play host, spending an average of £1,315 on party food and drinks each year £400 more than their female counterparts.
And the rise of the gastrosexual is showing no signs of halting. Len Deightons cult 1960s mens recipe book, the Action Cook Book, is being re-released, Gordon Ramsays 5th series of the F-Word is on air and Marco Pierre White has made ITV1s Marcos Great British Feast, where macho Marco shows how real men hunt and cook. So, the rise of the gastrosexual and associated research has captured the imagination of the UK public, and now the kitchen industry is seeing the evidence.
Simon from Daval continues: We have noticed a massive shift in consumers buying habits. Now, men and women come into the showroom together and make a joint decision on a kitchen, whereas traditionally, it would be the woman picking out the design and the man picking up the cheque.
So, it seems, the gastrosexual is not taking the purchasing power away from women, who are still the big cheeses when it comes to buying the kitchen. But men have certainly moved up the ladder – from chequebook-wielder to esteemed consultant.