Conference Beat® – American Culinary Federation (ACF) National Convention, Orlando, August 2019

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The American Culinary Federation (ACF) is celebrating its 90th year and met in Orlando for its annual conference this year. ACF is the largest professional chefs’ organization in North America, comprised of more than 15,000 members. The organization is considered the leader in offering educational resources, training and accreditation to enhance professional growth for all current and future chefs and pastry chefs.


Food & Flavor Trends 2020 & Beyond

A global trend survey done by Les Dames d’Escoffier International (LDEI) was presented at the conference by Sharon Olson, Executive Director, Culinary Visions and board member of LDEI during a panel discussion with six chefs from diverse culinary backgrounds.  Major topics of discussion included:


Mediterranean Flavors – these dishes, known for healthfulness, are expected to grow in popularity.  Expect more exotic flavors from North Africa and the Middle East to gain attention on menus.


Street Food Culture – affordability, convenience and cultural exposure are driving the growth of this portable culinary pleasure.


Plant Power on the Menu – expect health and lifestyle trends to encourage more consumption of fruits and vegetables with smaller portions of meat and amped up flavors.


Indian Spices – as exploration of Asian cuisines continues to fuel menu exploration, Indian spices and dishes are moving closer to mainstream appeal.


Light Footprint Living – growing consciousness among consumers of all ages is fueling behavioral shifts to less waste and more sustainable living.


Highlights from the Tradeshow

Trend Setting Tables – tableware that compliments the menu, from rustic fare to durable fine dining ware, was on display. There was also great attention to glassware to compliment signature cocktails and beverages.


Tools of the Trade – a personal selection of knives continues to be important to chefs. There was interest in the latest foodservice equipment that suits the diversity of the
modern menu.


Slow Food in The Fast Lane – there is no doubt that convenience drives much of foodservice, yet consumers have high culinary expectations.  Exhibitors were featuring a wide range of premium ingredients including, meats, cheeses and spice blends to fuel diverse menus and high volume feeding.


Implications for Food Marketers

Inspiring The Next Generation – Culinary educators and students are interested in engagement with manufacturers and suppliers for inspiration.


Culinary Inspiration is Immersive – Chefs want to be connected and explore first hand. According to the LDEI survey the top three places professionals look for inspiration are travel, cookbooks and farmers markets – internet and social media ranked fourth.


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