Norman Van Aken
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“Norman Van Aken is the Walt Whitman of American Cuisine” — Charlie Trotter
Norman Van Aken has been described as “legendary, visionary and a trailblazer,” as well as ‘The Culinary Titan of Florida.” He is “the founding father of New World Cuisine,” a celebration of Latin, Caribbean, Asian, African and American flavors. He is also known internationally for introducing the concept of “Fusion” to the culinary world.
He is the only Floridian inducted into the prestigious James Beard list of “Who’s Who in American Food and Beverage.” His restaurant, NORMAN’S, was nominated as a finalist for the James Beard Foundation’s Best Restaurant in America. He has been a James Beard Foundation semi-finalist for Best Chef in America. The Orlando Sentinel placed him in the Florida Hall of Fame.
He is an internationally acclaimed author. His memoir, No Experience Necessary… The Culinary Odyssey of Chef Norman Van Aken, has been praised by many, including Thomas Keller, Mario Batali, Jeremiah Tower and Wolfgang Puck. The book was also nominated for the prestigious IACP/Julia Child Award.
In 2006, Norman was honored as one of the Founders of the New American Cuisine alongside Alice Waters, Paul Prudhomme, and Mark Miller at Spain’s International Summit of Gastronomy ‘Madrid Fusión’ event. In 2015 Chef Van Aken represented Florida at the USA Pavilion at EXPO Milano as part of the World’s Fair, titled “American Food 2.0, United to Feed the Planet.”
Norman Van Aken has published five cookbooks and one memoir: Feast of Sunlight (1988), The Exotic Fruit Book (1995), Norman’s New World Cuisine (1997), New World Kitchen (2003), My Key West Kitchen (2012, with Justin Van Aken), No Experience Necessary, The Culinary Odyssey of Chef Norman Van Aken (2013). His next book is scheduled for 2016, My Florida Kitchen (with Janet Van Aken).
His radio show, A Word on Food, appears on NPR station WLRN 91.3 FM. He has appeared on numerous television programs, from CNN to Anthony Bourdain to Jimmy Kimmel Live. He is the Chef-Owner of “NORMAN’S at the Ritz-Carlton, Grande Lakes, Orlando.”
His new venture is a Cooking School, “In the Kitchen with Norman Van Aken,” in partnership with Candace Walsh. It’s being built on Biscayne in Miami.
“Before the celebrity chef craze…before the start of Food Network, Norman Van Aken was starting a revolution. He was doing something unheard of at the time, taking local ethnic flavors, merging them together at restaurants where he worked.” – Smithsonian Magazine