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.