Tastes of the Tropics: An Interview with Florida Chef, Norman Van Aken
To many, Norman Van Aken – chef, author, pioneer of New World Cuisine, storyteller, James Beard award winner – is not just the face of Florida cooking, but the heart and soul. From working in kitchens in Key West in the 1970s, he was the driving force behind a diverse collection of memorable restaurants in the state, including A Mano in South Beach, Norman’s in Coral Gables and Norman’s at The Ritz-Carlton Orlando, still going strong. His body of work includes cookbooks – including Norman’s New World Cuisine, My Key West Kitchen, Feast of Sunlight, to name a few – that pay loving homage to the history, geography, culture, spirit and cuisine of food and drink.
And he’s far from finished. Van Aken has more on his plate: a charming new restaurant called 1921 in Mount Dora, the quaint Victorian town north of Orlando; a soon-to-open restaurant, lounge and cooking school called Three in Wynwood, Miami’s urban arts district; and My Florida Kitchen, coming out this fall from University Press of Florida. He joined us for a chat with Erica Guzman at her cookware boutique, Aragon 101 in Coral Gables.