The 18th World of Flavor International Conference and Festival will kick off at The Culinary Institute of America’s Greystone campus from April 20–22. The conference will look at the myriad ways chefs use their passion and define their cultural identities—national and personal—to invent unique spaces and styles. Worlds of Flavor: On Fire will examine culinary trends and the networks that are built within a country, a culture, and an individual kitchen.
The conference will present the insights and personal journeys of influential chefs from Europe, Latin America, and the U.S., and look into how they found their voice in this conversation about tradition and invention, who influenced them, and what is shaping their culinary vision for the future. Where Kitchens Connected (CIA’s 16th Worlds of Flavor conference) examined the external, increasingly global networks among chefs, On Fire examines internal, proximate networks—the ones that occur within a country, a culture, and a kitchen.
Complementing the singularity of individual, chef-centric creativity, On Fire also explores the vital role of community—in professional kitchens, with customers, and among chefs, traditional cooks, and cultural experts—in sustaining passion and supporting excellence. What is perhaps a distinct trademark of the food industry is the way kitchens function as communities, from brigade-style organization to the camaraderie created by spending most waken hours together. It’s not rare to hear celebrity chefs say that they are opening more restaurants to offer opportunities to “homegrown” talent, to give promising chefs de cuisine, sous chefs, and assistant managers platforms of their own. This theme of community will extend to the conference’s extensive tastings and World Marketplace, highlighting collaborative pairings between chefs as well as relationships of inspiration.
General sessions, seminars, and workshops will explore what drives chefs and how they use their cooking talent to bring their cultures to life on the plate. The purposes behind their approaches are often equally gastronomic, exploratory, and educational: Through the mere act of eating, guests can learn more about their own or others’ culture. Innovative dishes will feature ingredients perhaps never before seen in the U.S., with the aim to inspire attendees to look for their own roots and in their own backyards to explore their cultures and what they have to offer, to inspire them to come up with new culinary strategies and develop their own voices.