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142 East 4th Avenue, Mount Dora, FL 32757 – DIRECTIONS | 352.385.1921

LUNCH – Wednesday – Sunday 11:30AM to 2:00PM

DINNER – Tuesday – Sunday 5:00PM to Close


Norman Van Aken | chef/Partner

“Norman Van Aken is the Walt Whitman of American Cuisine.” — Charlie Trotter

“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 is 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 first memoir captured the attention of the prestigious IACP/Julia Child Award and received a nomination.

Chef Norman is the founder of NORMAN’S at the Ritz-Carlton Grande Lakes Orlando and is currently in the final stages of opening In the Kitchen with Norman Van Aken, a cooking school in Miami.

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.

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.

Van Aken will publish his sixth cookbook Norman Van Aken’s Florida Kitchen with his wife Janet later this year.

Camilo Velasco | Chef De Cuisine

Chef Camilo Velasco was born and raised in Cali, Colombia. Upon moving to the United States in 2004 he was inspired by the accessibility and diversity of the food and culture the states had to offer.  Fueling his interests, Velasco began his culinary journey in 2008, when he enrolled in Valencia College’s culinary arts program.

Velasco knew that focus and hard work were the two ingredients needed to make his way up the ranks of the metaphorical “kitchen hierarchy” and so, while in school, he took a side job as a dishwasher and prep cook at The Bistro in the Courtyard by Marriott on International Drive.  He had set his standards high and so within one year of working at The Bistro, transitioned to Commis at Orlando’s AAA Five Diamond Award-winning restaurant, Victoria & Albert’s where he trained directly under James Beard Award-nominee, Chef Scott Hunnel.

Velasco quickly learned the inner-workings of how a kitchen dedicated to culinary excellence should run and after 2 years he was offered the Sous Chef position at NORMAN’S at the Ritz Carlton, Grand Lakes to work under the direction of award-winning chef and founding father of New World Cuisine, Norman Van Aken. Committed to giving it his all, Velasco immediately stood out and after a short four months was promoted to Chef de Cuisine. Van Aken quickly became Velasco’s mentor and so in 2012 when given the opportunity to work at the chef’s newest Miami concept, Tuyo, as a Chef de Partie, he relocated.

Ripe for his return to Central Florida and to his growing family here, Velasco ran the kitchen at Barnie’s Coffee Kitchen before reconnecting with Van Aken to lead the award-winning chef’s second Central Florida restaurant, 1921 by Norman Van Aken in Mount Dora. Here Velasco works closely with Van Aken, focusing on the culinary traditions of the area while adding a modern twist to the varied menu. Velasco aims to create a true Florida culinary experience for restaurant guests with a menu that changes regularly to fit the local food and flair of the area.

Chef Velasco’s love for the culinary arts has led him to pursue other intriguing aspects of the industry including becoming an Introductory Certified Sommelier and participating in culinary demos, conferences and symposiums. When he’s not in the kitchen, he’s enjoying time with his family and can be found running after his three kids.

Adam Crane | General Manager & Wine Director

Adam Crane has been working in the restaurant business since his teenage years. He earned two bachelor’s degrees in Hospitality Management from the University of Central Florida’s Rosen School of Hospitality Management. Before joining the 1921 team, Crane held leadership positions at Winter Park’s award-winning Ravenous Pig, Prato, and Luma on Park. The Orlando native is a Certified Sommelier through the Court of Master Sommeliers.

Gloriann Rivera | Pastry Chef

Baking and the pastry arts require a person of precision, passion with a playful focus on detail. All three of those aptly describe Gloriann Rivera. Challenging herself every day is what drives her career, which started in the award-winning kitchen of Luma on Park in Winter Park, Fla., under the guidance of Chef Brian Cernell.  As an apprentice, she learned to turn the simple ingredients into extraordinary desserts. Thinking outside the box became her forte.
A native of Bayamon Puerto Rico, Rivera attended Le Cordon Bleu culinary school in Orlando.  She joined the opening team of 1921 by Norman Van Aken in 2016 taking the helm of a custom bakeshop to showcase seasonal Florida flavors in innovative ways.
In 2017, Rivera was hand-picked to be part of “Women in the Kitchen: A Celebration at Lake Meadow,” a fundraiser to support the James Beard Foundation’s work in advancing women in the culinary industry.  Celebrated chef and host Kathleen Blake (The Rusty Spoon, Orlando, Fla.) paired Rivera with Emily Luchetti, the award-winning pastry chef and cookbook author who has largely shaped the pastry arts in America today. It was an experience of a lifetime in a young culinarian’s career and ingrained in Rivera a passion for continued mentorship and collaboration.
Rivera’s favorite seasonal ingredients include passion fruit, mango, guanabana (soursop), star fruit (carambola) and watermelon.  A diverse yet small list that barely hints at her sophisticated and discriminating range. Her favorite desserts are tres leche cakes and flans, which she reimagines into clever creations with each new harvest.

Jeremy Ware | Sous Chef

Jeremy Ware came to 1921 by Norman Van Aken from the critically-acclaimed Ravenous Pig restaurant in Winter Park, Fla. His culinary training instilled the importance of classic techniques as a gateway to exploring all cuisines. The Orlando native has a keen interest in biotechnology in agriculture and exploring the resurgence of heirloom grains and vegetables.

Chelsea Harkness | Bar Manager

Chelsea Harkness is an innovator on the local craft cocktail scene. Her creative concoctions have been highlighted in industry as well as lifestyle publications. Harkness honed her mixology skills over the last decade steadily establishing her niche behind the bar. The San Diego, Calif., native has lived in Central Florida for 20 years.

Stay in touch with the team at 1921