When over 200 chefs gathered together at the recent 17th Worlds of Flavor International Conference and Festival, there was sure to be discussion about what the next new culinary trends would be.

Here are the trends heard most frequently at the Conference on the CIA’s stunning Greystone Campus:

Fermentation – There are several reasons for the popularity of fermentation. It highlights the sought after umami flavor because it intensifies and heights the umami effect. Fermentation also benefits the diner’s health. The friendly bacteria generated by fermentation can aid digestion and assist in absorbing nutrients.

Suntory Whisky – Once Scotland was the sole source for premier whisky. But ever since Masataka Taketsuru went to Glasgow in 1918 to study organic chemistry and became intrigued by the art of distillation, there has been a growing interest in whisky in Japan. Finally in 2012 at the World Whiskies Award, Suntory’s Yamazaki 25 year old whisky was voted in blind tasting the world’s best single malt whisky. Today Suntory, lead sponsor of this year’s Worlds of Flavor Conference, export over 10,000 cases on their fine spirit to the United States alone.

East West Conversion – As Millennials replace the Baby Boomer generation as the largest consumer group in the U.S., a new culinary era is emerging. Because Millennials are the first ‘foodie’ generation, they have grown up watching The Food Channel and traveling internationally prior to forming families. As a result, they want to bring their east-west taste adventures to their dining experience stateside.

The Umami Connection – As more and more research documents the danger of excessive fat, sugar, and chemical additives in fast foods, chefs are realizing the benefit of employing umami producing ingredients in their menu choices.

Forgotten Culinary History – Sometimes the newest food trends isn’t about what is contemporary, but rather it is about what has been forgotten and then rediscovered.  Consider the classic (and very healthy) temple food of ancient Japan. Elegant in its simplicity, it was once restricted to only the enlightened and the elite. Now subtle variations of this exquisite cuisine are appearing in restaurants worldwide.  Such is also the case with heirloom rice in a seemingly endless array of colors from Southwest Asia, once available only from street side vendor carts.

New Ingredients – As East meets West, new ingredients are appearing, many with a healthy soy base. As marinades and unique sauce ingredients, they offer a stunning new culinary experience for both chefs and diners. 

Inclusive Sustainability – Whether the culinary path is from farm to table or tide to table, terroir and merroir mean more than mere land or water. Sustainability  also mean the people, the culture and the society evolving around the product used. The Internet now makes unfair labor practices and abusive environmental practices visible to all.   

Food as Performance – More and more frequently, as discussed at length by the world famous designer Takashi Sugimoto, the distance and transparency between chef and diner is growing ever thinner. Younger diners desire to be ‘part’ of the culinary experience beyond the table from photo selfies to field dining.