World Casual: The Future of American Menus

Posted by: WendyLane in: Food/Beverage -

This was the title of the recent Worlds of Flavor Conference I attended at the Culinary Institute of America.  The three-day event highlighted next generation flavors and culinary strategies from Europe and the Mediterranean to Asia, Africa and Latin America.

Attracting more than 500 food professionals, the conference’s “casual menu” theme was the natural outgrowth of a long economic downturn coupled with an increasingly food savvy public.

The speakers were exciting.  They ranged from Paula Wolfert, America’s foremost authority on eastern Mediterranean food; and Chandra Ram, the editor of Plate; to Jim Poris, a senior editor at Food Arts and Rick Bayless, the chef-owner of Frontera Grill, Topolobampo, and XOCO in Chicago.

It was refreshing to see restaurants pull inspiration from Asian noodles, eastern Mediterranean tangines, North African maghrebis (sandwiches) and Spanish tortillas (potent-egg omelets) into their menus.  Diverse colors, textures and flavors were all being combined within one menu.  The orientation, however, remained on fresh, local and simply prepared foods.  Many of these dishes were paired with flavorful Spanish wines which provide a complete spectrum of taste, color and style.  Many are also priced well for more casual meals.

Here are a few of my favorite photos from the conference.

World Casual team photoWorld of Flavors chefsChefs cooking

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