The American Culinary Federation (ACF ) has met annually for over 70 years to share knowledge and to discuss developing culinary trends. On July 22-26 in Las Vegas, over 1600 of the top chefs from the finest restaurants in America joined great chefs from Europe, Asia, and—for the first time—seventeen South American countries. Their insights are offered here.

Nouveau global is pushing to join Asian Fusion, Nuevo Latino, and Traditional European Cuisines on America's finest tables. For example, at Charlie Trotter's in Chicago, Fennel-Lemon Chicken, Thai Braised Pork, Moroccan-Spice Lamb and Hoisin-Ginger Beef Tenderloin share the menu. From San Francisco to Miami, Asian, European, and Latino flavors, ingredients and cooking techniques can be found on the same menus.

Seasonality is the latest buzzword on chef's lips across the country. Chef Todd Gray, owner of the award-winning Equinox restaurant in Washington DC, demonstrates how using the freshest seasonal ingredients, combined with masterful European techniques, raises seemingly simple American fare to amazing levels.

Personalized convenience foods are what customers expect from Candy Wallace, director of the American Personal Chef Association. Unlike a private chef, personal chefs create custom prepared meals for a number of clients. These meals are either frozen or refrigerated and then reheated and served by the client. In the past three years, this business segment has increased more than 300%.

Flavor layering is becoming the preferred technique of creating and preparing exciting new menu items. Executive chef Travis W. Smith, World Culinary Olympic Gold Medal Champion, tells us that a few individual intense flavors layered one upon the next allows each wonderful flavor to be tasted and enjoyed. In the past, less sophisticated tastes were created by blending many flavors into one “blurred” compound. Understanding and using flavors in balance is far more important.

New traditional ethnic items are being seen on America's finest menus. The hottest of the new ethnic trends are upscale Cuban/Caribbean, South American and Vietnamese foods, flavors and techniques. These diverse menu items will become commonplace.

Developing consumer trends are tremendously difficult to predict. In July, America's best culinary experts met to take on that very hard task. Working day in and day out on the “front lines” of gourmet foodservice, no one is better informed or more experienced in this area. Their combined knowledge, skill and insights have given us this glimpse of tomorrow's top selling foodservice

Chef J, aka J. Hugh McEvoy CEC, CRC, is both a Certified Executive Chef with the American Culinary Federation and one of only six Certified Research Chefs with the Research Chefs Association. His e-mail is