A Word On Food

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“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 and considered to be the founding father of New World Cuisine - a celebration of Latin, Caribbean, Asian, African and American flavors.  He is the only Floridian inducted into the prestigious James Beard list of “Who’s Who in American Food and Beverage” and was s a 2016 MenuMasters Hall of Fame inductee along with Jacques Pépin and Wolfgang Puck.

Van Aken is a James Beard semi-finalist for “Best Chef in America” and his namesake restaurant NORMAN’S, was nominated as a finalist for “Best Restaurant in America.”  He has represented the United States proud 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 as part of the World’s Fair (2015).

Van Aken has shared his cooking and career, penning more than five cookbooks (Feast of Sunlight; The Exotic Fruit Book; Norman’s New World Cuisine; New World Kitchen; My Key West Kitchen) and a memoir (No Experience Necessary… The Culinary Odyssey of Chef Norman Van Aken).   His cookbooks have been hailed by Anthony Bourdain, Thomas Keller, Emeril Lagasse, Mario Batali, 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.

Chef Van Aken opened “1921 by Norman Van Aken” a restaurant in Mount Dora, Florida in September, 2016. The restaurant has 160 seats with indoor and outdoor dining open for lunch and dinner featuring “Modern Florida Cuisine”. It is in alliance with the extraordinary Modernism Museum directly across the street. The restaurant’s design includes many elements from the Museum’s collection of art. Additionally he is partnered with Candace Walsh to open “In the Kitchen with Norman Van Aken”, a cooking school in Miami in June of 2017. The two are joined by restaurateur Susan Buckley and debuting a new restaurant and roof-deck lounge adjacent to the school due this summer. The restaurant is named “Three”. Chef Norman is the Chef and founder of NORMAN’S at the Ritz-Carlton, Grande Lakes, Orlando which opened in 2003 and has many local and national accolades.

Chef Van Aken has appeared on various television shows from CNN’s “Parts Unknown” with 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 hosts of “A Word on Food” a radio show that airs twice a week on NPR, in addition to being a staff writer for one of the leading culinary websites, The Daily Meal. There he is featured on his column, “Kitchen Conversations” which have featured chefs, authors, wine-makers, cocktail gurus and restaurant luminaries.

His next book, “Norman Van Aken’s Florida Kitchen” will be out in Fall of 2017 and published by University of Florida Press.

When he is not in the kitchen working up new recipes 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.

Hard Boiled Eggs

May 26, 2018


©2012 All rights reserved by Norman Van Aken

Yields: 1 3/4 Cup

3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced

2 tablespoons small capers, rinsed

4 hard boiled eggs

pinch salt

large pinch cayenne pepper

cracked black pepper, to taste

1 teaspoon Spanish sherry vinegar

2 tablespoons Italian parsley, cleaned and chopped

2 tablespoons cilantro leaves, cleaned and chopped

1/2 Cup ground toasted almonds

1/2 Cup XVOO.

Aphrodisiacal Foods

May 19, 2018



Norman Van Aken, © 2013


May 12, 2018


©2012 All rights reserved by Norman and Justin Van Aken, “My Key West Kitchen”

Yield: Serves 4

For the Pick-a-Peppa Cream Cheese:

4 ounces of cream cheese, softened

1 Tablespoon Pick-a-Peppa sauce

3 Tablespoons sour cream

½ each lemon zest

½ teaspoon lemon juice

⅛ teaspoon kosher salt

pinch black pepper

Mix all of the above together and set aside. Can be chilled and re-tempered at room temperature.

1-2 green tomatoes, cut into ¼-inch slices, lightly salted

Stage Names

May 5, 2018


Apr 28, 2018


Norman Van Aken, © 2014 from my memoir,

“No Experience Necessary, the Culinary Odyssey of Chef Norman Van Aken”

This was adapted from a sauce I’ve made for eons named “Aigrelette”. It was adapted to go with my Carny Corn Dogs as the title says. But it would be fine whenever you wanted a more “Dijonaise” styled sauce. Less straight punch than mustard alone.

Yield: 2 Cups

For the base mayonnaise:

4 egg yolks

1 Cup blended oil

1/2 Cup extra virgin

2 Tablespoons water



Apr 21, 2018


Norman Van Aken © All rights reserved. “My Key West Kitchen”

Banh Mi

Apr 14, 2018

Fish A La Meuniere

Apr 7, 2018
Debi Harbin

FLOUNDER “A LA MEUNIÈRE” (WITH SALTINE CRACKERS)                                                         

© 2015 All Rights Reserved by Norman & Janet Van Aken


Mar 31, 2018


with Lettuces, Redlands Chutney and Smoky Chipotle Mayo

©1996 All Rights Reserved by Norman Van Aken

Serves: 4 salads

For the quail and marinade:

3/4 Cup Picante Marinade

4 semi-boneless quail

Marinate the quail overnight in the marinade.  When you are ready to marinade pull the quail out and put the marinade in a pan to reduce over medium heat for 5-7 minutes  and strain (about 1/4 cup will remain).

Wonder Bread

Mar 24, 2018

Club Sandwiches

Mar 10, 2018

Hash Browns

Mar 3, 2018


© 2015 All Rights Reserved by Norman & Janet Van Aken, “My Florida Kitchen”

Chicken Parm

Feb 24, 2018