Gourmet Cells (グルメ細胞 Gurume Saibō) are special, highly adaptive cells first discovered and harvested from the Gourmet Jellyfish by the "Bishokushin" 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.
There are two known ways to infuse Gourmet Cells into a living being. The first and safest method is through "ingestion": where one must regularly take a pill or a food item containing Gourmet Cells, at which point the cells will begin to slowly conform and adapt to the consumer's body as the consumer continues to eat them. However, this method takes far longer to have an effect on the body and there are many cases where the cells are never able to adapt and give no physical enhancements to the consumer.
The second method is through "injection": which involves directly injecting Gourmet Cells into the body via syringe but this method is the more dangerous of the two but also the fastest, as direct injection causes the injected cells to adapt faster and thus the time it takes for them to adapt to the body is overwhelmingly fast when compared to the safer method, however this method has many risks for if the cells do not properly adapt they begin to invade the body and mutate it, turning the injected individual into a horrific-looking monster, or worse it may end up killing them. An example of mutants created via injection are the members of the Gourmet Corp. and the ancient ancestors of the denizens of Hex Food World. It should be noted that those who become mutant monsters can still breed and their descendants will inherit their monstrous traits and become a unique species of their own.
When a human successfully adapts Gourmet Cells into their body, they gain overwhelming life force and power. Enhancements common to many implantees generally include: extremely increased physical strength, speed, general athleticism, stamina, endurance, and senses. 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 Jiro, Mansam, and Chin Chinchin are even capable of releasing more of their power to become monstrously muscular giants.
The cells can also grant 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 synesthesia, Tommyrod's compound eyes and remote control of limbs through insect ganglia, and Midora's use of blending and camouflaging with the environment. Gourmet Cells also seem to increase the compatibility and effectiveness of transplants (as in the case of Grinpatch's multiple arms and Elg's Herac body) and symbiotic relationships between organisms (as with Tommyrod and his internally-bred army of insects).
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 Toriko, Starjun and Midora are stated to have been born with their Gourmet Cells (although in Toriko's case he appears to have red and blue gourmet cells), potentially avoiding some of the drawbacks faced by implantees.
Because of the incredible and wide-ranging abilities of the Cells (and in particular their ability to increase fighting strength), many prominent Gourmet Hunters, Saiseiya, Chefs, IGO members and criminals have them. Many of these, such as the members of the Gourmet Corp., seek out new and rare ingredients specifically to increase their fighting strength.
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. Certain individuals can also develop new abilities or resistances 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.
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. However, the ability to manipulate Appetite Energy is not an automatic consequence of Gourmet Cell infusion. Even very powerful individuals with strong Gourmet Cells are only able to semi-consciously manifest a degree of Appetite Energy on the instinctual level at best. Truly mastering the energy's incredible power requires its conscious 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 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 (which were boosted in regenerative power through his fusion with the Herac) were nonetheless overwhelmed by Brunch's continuous electrical attacks.
Gourmet Cells are also prone to manipulation as stated by Mansam and demonstrated by NEO's leader Joie. When Gourmet Cells become active, there is a possible chance of permanent scars appearing on the user's body in specific areas (most likely the face as shown by most Gourmet Cell users with scars). These scars do not disappear as the Gourmet Cells allow them to stay instead of healing them like any other wounds. These scars can either form on their own or they can be formed through the process of using dark techniques to "cook" the Gourmet Cell, both these methods will cause any current scars to grow longer as the Gourmet Cells become more active as shown when Teppei's scars grew longer after Joie manipulated him and when Toriko's scars grew slightly longer after using his Blue Demon during combat. When these scars are formed through the use of dark techniques or further grown, the user becomes prone to manipulation as shown by Joie when he manipulates many members of the IGO, Saiseiya and the Gourmet Corp. to joining the ranks of NEO. Mansam states that for the manipulation of Gourmet Cells to work, the Gourmet Cells must yield to the power of whoever manipulates it therefore the Gourmet Cells allow the manipulation to happen.
There are only two possible solutions to removing any form of manipulations of Gourmet Cells on its users; one is to remove the scars which the Gourmet Cells have allowed to stay, however this method is extremely difficult to achieve as the scars are deemed permanent; the other is to use an even greater power to the former manipulator however the dangers of this method is that if a person doesn't possess the techniques for manipulating Gourmet Cells, they will instead need to inflict a devastating damage to the manipulated person, which will result in either the person returning to normal or dying in the process due to the overwhelming damage. Shigematsu is first to experience the second solution through damage however before his mind could returned to normal completely, he has already suffered extensive damage through Toriko's attack and was devoured by Angler Birds while he was weakened.
The most mysterious aspect of the Cells so far is their ability to "fly out" or "bloom" and somehow physically manifest in the form of the user's Appetite Demon, or to manifest elements of the Demon on the body of the user. This ability is apparently triggered after a user consciously discovers how to manipulate Appetite Energy, and is pushed into a life-or-death struggle. It seems to suggest that the Appetite Demon is in fact a sentient manifestation of the user's Gourmet Cells, rather than a mere projection of fighting spirit. When they began to "emerge", both Sunny and Toriko's Intimidation forms spoke to them, and Sunny seemingly had to fight his Demon for control of his Satan Hair ability. Toriko's Red Demon offered him advice while he was unconscious, and itself emerged at a crucial moment, summoning its upper torso over Toriko's broken body to puncture a hole through Starjun. Starjun's own Cells later manifested in the form of a third eye on his forehead, mirroring the single eye of his Cyclops-like Appetite Demon. Although how the process works is still unclear, Toriko's Appetite Demon and Jiro have both stated that consuming Acacia's Full Course grants perfect control of one's Gourmet Cells, apparently including this mysterious ability.
Whenever a person with an untrained Appetite Demon approaches an ingredient that is beyond what they can comprehend, these Demons go berserk, manifesting themselves outside of their user's body and completely taking control as Chichi stated that before the Four Heavenly Kings could even make a judgment as to what ingredient was presented to them, the Demons have already gone wild and manifested themselves.