A Word On Food

Saturdays at 8:34 AM

“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.” --- The Smithsonian 

Among his many masteries as a chef, Norman Van Aken is best known for introducing "fusion" into the lexicon of modern cookery. He is also known as the “founding father of New World Cuisine” - a celebration of Latin, Caribbean, Asian, American and African flavors.  He is the only Floridian Chef inducted into the prestigious James Beard Foundation’s list of “Who’s Who in American Food and Beverage”. He was a 2016 MenuMasters Hall of Fame inductee along with previous winners Wolfgang Puck and Jacques Pépin.  

Van Aken is a James Beard semi-finalist for “Best Chef in America” and his namesake restaurant NORMAN’S, in Coral Gables, was nominated as a finalist for “Outstanding Restaurant in America.” The only one thus far in the entire state of Florida.  He founded NORMAN’S at the Ritz-Carlton in Orlando in 2003, also a semi-finalist for “Outstanding Restaurant in America”, only the second restaurant in the history of Florida to reach the semi-finalist stage (The first was NORMAN’s in Coral Gables). He has received numerous local and national accolades over the years, and has represented the United States with international recognitions that include being honored alongside Alice Waters, Paul Prudhomme and Mark Miller as one of the “Founders of New American Cuisine” at Spain’s International Summit of Gastronomy ‘Madrid Fusión’ (2006) and represented the State of Florida at the USA Pavilion at EXPO Milano/World’s Fair (2015).  

Van Aken has shared his cooking and career, penning six cookbooks (Feast of Sunlight; The Exotic Fruit Book; Norman’s New World Cuisine; New World Kitchen; My Key West Kitchen; Norman Van Aken's Florida Kitchen) and a memoir (No Experience Necessary… The Culinary Odyssey of Chef Norman Van Aken).  His cookbooks have been hailed by Anthony Bourdain, Charlie Trotter, Thomas Keller, Emeril Lagasse, Eric Ripert, and Wolfgang Puck; while his memoir captured the attention of the prestigious IACP/Julia Child Award and received a ‘finalist nomination’ along with Michael Pollan, Anne Willan and Luke Barr. His latest published book, Norman Van Aken's My Florida Kitchen, was selected to represent the USA in the local category of the Gourmand International World Cookbook Awards and has been awarded the Florida Book Award’s Gold Medal for Cooking. 

Another project is, ‘Time Out Market Miami’ Food Hall where he has two concepts. One is based on his beloved Key West and the other is his take on artisanal pizzas. The original Time Out Market is in Lisbon, Portugal with more markets to follow in New York, Chicago, Boston, London, Dubai and Montreal. The food hall is about 20,000 square feet and is already becoming a Miami standout for tourists and locals alike.

Chef Van Aken has appeared on various television shows from CNN’s “Parts Unknown” with Anthony Bourdain to “Jimmy Kimmel Live.”  He is often cited as a culinary expert in publications such as The New York Times and Saveur.  Additionally, Van Aken is the host of “A Word on Food” a radio show that airs weekly on NPR station 91.3 WLRN in Miami.

When he is not in the kitchen, he can be found spending time with his wife, Janet; son, Justin; daughter-in-law Lourdes; and his pride and joy, his granddaughter, Audrey Quinn Van Aken. 

Salt and Pepper

Feb 22, 2020

The “salt” in this dish comes from the intriguing flavor of preserved lemons which you can easily make or buy.  You will need to have these prepared and in your larder for a period of time before making this recipe.  The “pepper” is finely julienned poblano chile peppers.


“FEAST OF SUNLIGHT”, Norman Van Aken, © 2019

Yield: Serves 4

For the Sauce:

2 shallots, peeled and finely chopped

6 whole black peppercorns

1 bay leaf, broken

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

Yoshoku Cuisine

Feb 15, 2020

Family Meal

Feb 8, 2020
Maria Robledo


Norman Van Aken, © All Rights Reserved 2019

The ‘family meals’ we had a the Pier House were raucous affairs. If we failed to make a good one the servers turned testy! This one had a calming effect on the team thank goodness.

Yield: 1 loaf

Meat mixture:

1#   ground chuck

1#   ground pork

1 large onion, diced small

1 large carrot, diced small

½ # mushrooms

2 T roasted garlic

¼ Cup tomato paste

2 T Pick-a-peppa sauce

2 eggs

½  C  breadcrumbs


Feb 1, 2020


Norman Van Aken adapted from, “The New Spanish Table”, Anya von Bremzan

Yield: Serves 4 as a breakfast or brunch dish

3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, + more as needed

4 garlic cloves, sliced

2 ounces smoky bacon, lightly cooked, diced and set aside, (bacon fat reserved for other uses)

2 to 3 ounces serrano ham, diced

4 ounces sweet Spanish-style chorizo sausage, diced

3 1/2 cups day-old dense country bread, torn into very small pieces

Chinese New Year

Jan 25, 2020


Norman Van Aken ©1998

Serves 4

For the chicken and marinade:

4 boneless 8 ounce chicken breasts, skin on

3 Tablespoons light soy sauce

3 Tablespoons honey

1-Tablespoon spicy dark roasted sesame oil, (Ají)

1 teaspoon Chinese five spice powder

2 cloves minced garlic

1) 2” piece of peeled ginger, minced

1 Scotch bonnet, stem and seeds discarded, minced

Freshly toasted and cracked black pepper, to taste

Frozen Pizza

Jan 18, 2020


Jan 4, 2020


© 2016 Norman Van Aken’s, “NEW WORLD CUISINE”

Yield: 4 Servings

Sliced grapes are a traditional garnish for gazpachos and they would make a nice addition here.

4 ounces stale white (French or Italian) bread, crust removed

Pinch of salt

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 1/2 Tablespoons champagne vinegar

3/4 cup freshly ground skinless unsalted almonds

1 3/4 cups Coconut Milk (available in grocery stores)

2/3 cup ice water

Sal and black pepper to taste


Dec 28, 2019

Christmas Cookies

Dec 21, 2019


Janet and Norman Van Aken © 2018 All rights reserved.

Although these are named as they are each year they are typically the fastest of our “Christmas Cookies” to be gobbled up!

Yield: 30

1 Cup butter

½ Cup powdered sugar, plus more for dusting

½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 ¾ Cup AP flour

1 ½ Cup chopped nuts as desired, (walnuts are nice).

Preheat over to 350.

Cream the butter and sugar.  Work in vanilla, flour and nuts.  Shape into balls and place on ungreased sheet.


Dec 14, 2019
Tim Turner


©2002 All rights reserved by Norman Van Aken

This not the full on paella that you might think of. Instead it is the basic but most important part of any paella; the rice. Embellish as you wish!

Yield: Serves 4 as a main course or 8 appetizers

For the paella rice:

2 Tablespoons butter

3 Tablespoon olive oil

3 cloves of raw sliced garlic

1 poblano chile, stem and seeds discarded, minced

1/2 small red onion, diced medium

¼ bulb of fennel, diced small

Dream Sheets

Dec 7, 2019



© 2018 All Rights Reserved by Norman Van Aken

Yields: 4 entrees

For the Escabeche Spice Rub:

This is an indispensable spice mixture you will find yourself using on many things.

For the “Mofongo”:

Peanut or grape seed oil, as needed to coat the bottom of a pan

1 very ripe plantain, peeled and cut into ½ inch size pieces

2 ounces of cleaned foie gras cut into small pieces

Candy Bars

Nov 30, 2019

Caldo de Res

Nov 23, 2019