Gourmet Cells (グルメ細胞 Gurume Saibō) are special, highly adaptive cells first discovered and harvested from Gourmet Jellyfish by the "Gourmet God" Acacia 605 years ago. The cells have extreme regenerative and strength-enhancing qualities, such that when implanted into the cells of another living thing they can enhance it in various ways. When gourmet cells are implanted into an ingredient, for instance, its flavor improves drastically, though it may become more powerful and difficult to capture as well.
When a human successfully adapts Gourmet Cells into their body they gain overwhelming life force and power. Enhancements common to many implantees include extreme physical strength, speed, and general athleticism; incredible stamina and endurance; enhanced senses; and the ability to project a terrifying 'Intimidation' aura. As long as calories are available, the cells also grant incredible regenerative power. This amazing vitality granted to a gourmet cell user is often reflected in their appearance, as the vast majority of the (mostly male) users possess incredibly muscular physiques. A few, such as Jirou, Mansam, and Chin Chinchin are even capable of releasing more of their power to become truly monstrous giants of intimidating muscle.
More exotic enhancements are also possible through gourmet cells, however. They can physically mutate the user to generate a wide variety of outright inhuman abilities or grant superhuman senses. Examples include: Sunny's ultra-sensitive prehensile hair; Coco's poison generation, incredible vision, and advanced use of synaesthesia; Tommyrod's compound eyes and remote control of limbs through insect ganglia; and Midora's use of blending. Gourmet cells also seem to increase the compatibilty and effectiveness of transplants (as in the case of Grinpatch's multiple arms and Elg's Heraku body) and symbiotic relationships between organisms (as with Tommyrod and his internally-bred army of insects).
An individual's gourmet cells 'evolve' when they consume delicious foods that suit them and the 'tastes' of the cells; this enhances the strength of the user and their abilities. They can also evolve as a response to harsh new environments, instantly creating adaptations which allow the user to survive. Training one's gourmet cells to adapt to a variety of such environments is an integral part of training to survive in the Gourmet World.
Because of the incredible and wide-ranging abilities of gourmet cells, and in particular their ability to increase fighting strength, many prominent bishokuya, saiseiya, chefs, IGO members, and even criminals have them. Many of these, such as the members of the Bishokukai, seek out new and rare ingredients specifically to increase their fighting strength.
Implanting gourmet cells into the body carries risks, however. If an individual is not compatible with the cells at the implantation stage they may gain no power, or even die. Gourmet cells also have extremely high energy demands, so users must frequently consume large amounts of delicious food, lest the cells begin uncontrollably devouring the their body at the cellular level. So far only Bishokukai sous-chef Starjun and the boss of the Bishokukai Midora are the only ones stated to have been born with gourmet cells, presumably avoiding some of the drawbacks faced by implantees.
The greatest advantage afforded by Gourmet Cells is the Appetite Energy they manifest internally. Versatile and highly powerful, mighty predators can externalize this energy by drawing out their overwhelming desire to devour prey. The energy can then be used to generate a variety of powerful effects. The ability to manipulate appetite energy is not an automatic consequence of Gourmet Cell infusion, however. Even very powerful individuals with strong Gourmet Cells are only able to, at best, semi-conciously manifest a degree of appetite energy on the instinctual level. Truly mastering the energy's incredible power requires its concious manipulation and a taxing degree of mental control.
While all of these qualities of Gourmet Cells make them extremely powerful and useful, it has been shown that they do have limitations. Their strength and regeneration-enhancing qualities are dependent on the user's calorie intake and even their mental state and fortitude. Mental training in disciplines such as Food Honor can make a vast difference in how effectively and efficiently the cells expend energy. Sufficiently powerful techniques can also simply exceed the powers of an individual's gourmet cells, such as when Elg's cells (boosted in regenerative power through his fusion with the Heraku, no less) were nonetheless overwhelmed by Buranchi's continuous electrical attacks.