A cynical person might say that cooking like this--with ambition--is really just another way of showing off, a form of what might be called conspicuous production. It says, I have the resources, sophistication, and leisure time to dazzle you with this meal. No doubt there's often an elements of truth to this, but cooking is many other things too, and one of them is a way to honor the group of people you have elected to call your guests.
Another thing cooking is, or can be, is a way to honor the things we're eating, the animals and plants and fungi that have been sacrificed to gratify our needs and desires, as well as the places and the people that produced them.
--Michael Pollan, The Omnivore's Dilemma