In a culinary revolution, the days when local tastes dictated the menu are gone. Today, the global palate is influencing what we savor, thanks to a fusion of international flavors, cultural inspirations, and the significant role of AI.

Imagine sitting in a restaurant in New York City, indulging in a dish inspired by the vibrant street food of Bangkok. Or relishing the delicate spices of India's rich cuisine while overlooking the skyline of Paris. This global culinary adventure is not just a fantasy; it's the reality that many restaurants are creating to cater to a diverse and well-traveled clientele.

One great example is the story of Chef René Redzepi, the visionary behind Noma in Copenhagen. Renowned for pioneering the New Nordic Cuisine movement, Redzepi's restaurant has consistently ranked as one of the best in the world. His ability to seamlessly blend local Scandinavian ingredients with global influences has turned Noma into a culinary mecca.

Culinary experiences are not just about the food; they're about the stories behind each dish, the traditions that shape them, and the cultures that inspire them. In the heart of Tokyo, a chef named Hiroshi Takahashi has transformed his restaurant into a cultural hub. Every dish is a masterpiece that tells a story, capturing the essence of Japan's rich history and traditions.

Takahashi's innovative approach extends beyond the kitchen. Through immersive dining events, he brings customers closer to the cultural roots of each dish. From tea ceremonies to traditional performances, his restaurant is a celebration of not just Japanese cuisine but the entire cultural experience.

In this era of culinary evolution, artificial intelligence stands as a transformative force within restaurant kitchens. A prime example is Winnow Solutions, an AI-powered system designed to combat food waste. Operating in renowned kitchens globally, this innovative technology utilizes cameras to track and analyze kitchen waste, providing chefs with invaluable insights into their disposal habits.

Take, for instance, a restaurant in London that adopted Winnow's system. Through meticulous monitoring, the AI identified patterns in food waste, allowing chefs to optimize ingredient usage, adjust portion sizes, and refine menu selections. The result was not only a significant reduction in waste but also a substantial impact on the restaurant's environmental footprint and operational costs.

By addressing the critical issue of food waste, AI technologies are shaping a more sustainable and conscientious future for the restaurant industry. The intersection of culinary expertise and artificial intelligence is proving to be a recipe for success, both in terms of gastronomic innovation and responsible kitchen management.

As the boundaries of traditional culinary practices dissolve, the impact on both palates and profits is significant. Restaurants embracing global influences and modern technology are attracting a more diverse clientele. The thrill of experiencing flavors from around the world, combined with the innovation of AI-driven culinary creations, is reshaping the industry landscape.

The modern Horeca scene is a melting pot of cultures, flavors, and technology. The journey from local tastes to a global palate is not just a trend; it's a culinary revolution that promises to redefine how we experience food. So, the next time you dine out, prepare to travel on a global adventure where tradition meets innovation on a plate.

Interview with Chef Enzo Neri: a culinary maestro's tale

This exclusive glimpse into the culinary cosmos wouldn't be complete without the story of Chef Enzo Neri, an Italian maestro whose journey spans across continents. Currently enchanting taste buds in Tbilisi with his restaurant, Chef Enzo is also leaving his mark on the international scene. Having left his imprint in New York, Dubai, and other metropolises, he is not only an acclaimed chef in his own right but also a visionary working with 5-star hotels to shape gastronomic experiences. In an exclusive interview, Chef Enzo shares his unique perspective on the intersection of international flavors, cultural fusion, and the role of AI in shaping the modern culinary landscape.

Your culinary journey has taken you from New York to Dubai and now to Tbilisi. How have these diverse cultural experiences influenced your approach to cooking?

Everything actually started in Italy. I was an IT specialist in biomedical engineering, but at the age of 29, I changed my career. I went back to school to complete a course at the Culinary Academy “Universita’ dei Sapori di Perugia”. Upon graduating, I began working at the Michelin-starred restaurant Il Postale in my hometown, under the guidance of Chef Marco Bistarelli. This formative experience developed my skills and professional know-how. It was with Chef Marco that I learned the foundation, technique, and knowledge of all things cooking. Then, for the past twenty years, I worked in the culinary industry from Italy to Georgia, with lengthy detours in London, Dubai, and New York and shorter stints in numerous other cities. I began to become skilled in the re-interpretation and modernization of traditional Italian dishes—an expertise for which I am well known today—but of course, all the travelling and the approach to different cultures added value to my knowledge and influenced some of my projects, like Sophies in Dubai or La Boheme and Rum Roof in Tbilisi.

Balancing your own restaurant in Tbilisi while developing menu concepts for international 5-star hotels is quite a feat. How do you navigate these two culinary worlds?

Vera Italiana, born in October 2021, is definitely my new baby. It is me, a classic Italian trattoria and pizzeria. But before that, I had the chance to start working for Maqro Tourism and Accor Group as a brand chef, and I had the amazing opportunity to build concepts for them. Asado Steakhouse is the first example: after having lived in Georgia for four years, I understood Georgians as knowledgeable meat lovers. Having previously worked in cities such as New York and London, even before my experience in Georgia, I had the idea of creating a restaurant concept focused on meat. What really pulled everything together was the realisation that, in the Georgian culinary tradition, there was no custom of eating steaks that had previously been subjected to a dry ageing procedure. I felt certain that my nascent idea could be actualized in this Mercure Hotel. The same I did for the Ibis Hotel with Rumroof, and now the new project Olives, a Mediterranean restaurant on the top floor of the Swissotel. Vera Italiana is much more 24/7 because I run the show, live on top of it, and take care of the entire operation. Branding is easier because I have to take care mostly of the menu, consistency, and standards, and I am managing executive chefs under me. But that doesn’t mean I pay less attention!

Having worked in various cosmopolitan cities, what trends have you noticed in terms of diners' preferences for international flavors?

Customers are very diverse, it is difficult to make a statement regarding trends. Some diners love high level of cuisine, 5 starts hotels and Michelin star restaurant experience. Others prefer classic, simple, full of original flavors that resemble the country itself. Some cuisines were established for decades, like Italian and French for instance, other became in fashion later, like Asian, Spanish tapas style or South American, the Peruvian ceviche to mention one. For the last 10 years healthy items became a must on menus probably because overweight and obesity are a global public problems and unhealthy restaurant meals have been identified as one contributing factor. Of course, trends are different when you compare cosmopolitan cities like London and New York with other dimensions and other countries where people have less opportunity to travel and to discover local cuisines. In some countries, the Cosmo trend isn’t the only problem. In many places with phenomenal local foods, like Morocco or Lebanon for example, the most glamorous restaurants serve high-end foreign cuisine instead of a real amazing couscous tagline that you can only find in the Berber mountains. That was my experience when I visited those countries.

Can you share a memorable experience or challenge you faced while introducing Italian cuisine to a new audience in a different part of the world?

I think every chef from every nation has experienced that issue at least once in life. Restaurants served local cuisine adapted to the local customers all over the world. Let's take my experience. For instance, Italian cuisine is probably the most famous in the world. But sometimes it is just what it has been represented as in the last 40 years, changed by the taste of international guests or by the fusion of other cuisines and different new techniques. The big obstacle is the ingredient part. With a lot of companies importing Italian products today all over, we can come close to authenticity, but from my hand, I can still see a lot of ignorance about it. Authenticity, real flavours, and good food can only exist if we use good ingredients and original products. Italy boasts products with official seals such as DOP or IGP, preserving the integrity of Italian cuisine outside of Italy. I never had the arrogance to educate the palate of a person, but I have always worked in the belief that it is sometimes appropriate to teach about the origins of the ingredients we use in our dishes. When your customers don’t acknowledge this, it will always be difficult for them to understand food that cannot be based only on their own expectations or experiences. I remember many cases where my work was put in doubt; Dubai was one of the first on my list, but also in Georgia. I had many frustrating cases. But perhaps the most important thing we can do as representatives of Italy here and around the world is to share the knowledge and expertise, tradition, history, and culture of our beautiful country, which is also acknowledged for the culinary arts.

In your opinion, how does the cultural background of a chef contribute to the uniqueness of their culinary creations?

As the world becomes more interconnected, cultural fusion in cuisine has also become increasingly popular. Chefs for the last 25 years have travelled the world more than ever. They experienced multicultural fusion foods as having the opportunity for culinary exploration, allowing individuals to savour unique flavour combinations. The influx of immigration and globalisation has led to the creation of menus that seamlessly blend diverse culinary traditions. This trend has injected excitement into the culinary world, as chefs take risks by combining unexpected ingredients and techniques to craft one-of-a-kind dining experiences.

With the rise of AI in the culinary world, how do you see technology influencing or enhancing the creative process in the kitchen?

Pretty scary, hahaha. AI has been influencing various sectors for years now, but not the culinary world yet. I cannot see AI taking away the way we knead a dough, the way we could pair an ingredient with another, or how to save a split sauce during a busy time. But I am sure that the power of AI is vast and transformative. It probably includes every single aspect, from a recipe recommendation to planning a menu or enhancing the cooking process through different cooking techniques to kitchen inventory or a market list. Maybe I will be able to adapt my cooking style, unique taste, and various recipes to try, but I hope that will happen when I am already retired.

What inspired you to blend Italian traditions with the diverse culinary influences you encountered, especially in a city like Tbilisi?

My Umbrian childhood instilled in me a passion for flavors. This is reflected in my cuisine, which is essentially simple Italian dishes that I honestly re-interpreted with the sophistication of technology and fresh, high-quality seasonal ingredients. They are an expression of me, my passion for food, and the blend of cultures with which I grew up. I have a passion for life and cuisine and the ability to transfer a vision into reality through my unwavering commitment and dedication. Travelling put me into different cultures and, consequently, into different cuisines, which always made me curious. I think there is no border when it comes to food; there is so much influence from one to another. Take, for example, Japanese tempura; the term has actually a Latin etymology. The technique to fry vegetables and seafood was introduced by Portuguese missionaries during the 16th century. I made many dishes from local cuisine with an Italian twist. Take, for example, my chocolate khinkali here in Georgia. The famous dumplings resemble the Italian ravioli that I revisited as a dessert using local products. Georgians didn’t take it well, to be honest, but for me, it was not a way to rape their traditions but only an homage to their cuisine with an Italian twist on it.

Looking ahead, what are your plans and aspirations in the world of global cuisine, and how do you see technology playing a role in your culinary pursuits?

My plans are still the same. Keep my passion alive by living, developing, and cooking. I left behind technology 25 years ago, but that doesn’t mean I am not ready to deal with it again in the near future.