Norman Van Aken

Host, A Word On Food

Norman Van Aken has been described as legendary, visionary and a trailblazer. He is known as “the founding father of New World Cuisine,” a celebration of Latin, Caribbean, Asian, African and American flavors. He is also known internationally for introducing the concept of “Fusion” to the culinary world.

His new memoir, “No Experience Necessary” is published by Taylor Trade Publishing. The book has been praised by the likes of Thomas Keller, Mario Batali, Emeril Lagasse, Monique Truong, Alan Richman (GQ Magazine), Jeremiah Tower, Wolfgang Puck and the late, great Charlie Trotter.

He is the only Floridian inducted into the prestigious James Beard list of “Who’s Who in American Food and Beverage.” His restaurant “NORMAN’S was nominated as a finalist for the James Beard Foundation’s “Best Restaurant in America.” He has been a James Beard Foundation semi-finalist for “Best Chef in America.”

In 2006, he was honored as one of the “Founders of the New American Cuisine,” alongside Alice Waters, Paul Prudhomme, and Mark Miller at Spain’s International Summit of Gastronomy ‘Madrid Fusión’ event.

Norman Van Aken has published five cookbooks: Feast of Sunlight 1988, The Exotic Fruit Book 1995, Norman’s New World Cuisine 1997, New World Kitchen 2003 and My Key West Kitchen 2012 (with Justin Van Aken).

His radio show, “A Word on Food,” appears twice a week on NPR station WLRN.

He is the chef and founder of “NORMAN’S at the Ritz-Carlton, Grande Lakes, Orlando.” 

Ways to Connect


Apr 2, 2016




Norman Van Aken, © 2001

Serves: 4 quarts

4 boneless, chicken breasts

3 Tablespoons pure olive oil

5 garlic cloves, minced

1 Spanish onion, diced

1 tomato, peeled, seeded and roughly chopped

10 Cups chicken stock

1 ½ pounds yellow Finnish or Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and sliced very thin

1 ½ pounds white skinned potatoes, peeled and sliced very thin

3 Cups roughly chopped spinach leaves, stems removed

3 ears of corn cut off the cob

2 Tablespoons minced oregano


Mar 26, 2016


Norman & Janet Van Aken © 2016

Rather than give out a specfic Enchilada or Taco Filling for this recipe we encourage you to be adapative as to what is in the farmer’s markets etc. You can go with a basic cheese and vegetable mix or a braise of heritage pork with roasted peppers and everywhere in between. 

Yield: 8 Enchiladas

1/3 cup vegetable oil

8 (8-inch) corn tortillas

2 Cups (more or less as you like) Enchilada Sauce, (Recipe Below)


Mar 19, 2016

conch salad with pickled onions, sweet peppers, and watermelon

Norman Van Aken © 2016

 Yield: serves 4

 Many have never had the treat of fresh conch. I often tell people to substitute fresh clams (and, in fact, you can substitute almost any kind of fresh fish—this recipe is really very adaptable). But with the wonders of overnight delivery, you can now easily have fresh conch. Other seafoods may be substituted of course.

8 ounces conch, cleaned and cut into very thin julienne


Mar 12, 2016


Norman Van Aken, COPYRIGHT © 2004

1⅓ cups buttermilk

1 egg, beaten

1½ cups flour

2 Tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

¾ teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

¼ cup butter, melted

Combine buttermilk and egg. Add dry ingredients and mix until blended. Add butter. Pour onto hot griddle. Flip when bubbles start to break and edges appear dry.

Soft Shell Crabs

Mar 5, 2016



Norman Van Aken, © 2016

Soft shell crabs have become increasingly popular and so have plantains. Here we combine them to provide a somewhat sweet, nutty, banana-scented sweetness that is fully met with the deep spicy flavors of a classic “Sauce Creole”.

Yield: Serves 4

For the plantain crust and soft shell crab:

8 soft shell crabs, cleaned

Moules of France

Feb 27, 2016


Norman Van Aken, © 2001

Callao refers to foods from Peru’s port area in the coastal city of Lima. This is simply freshly steamed and chilled plump mussels topped with a gorgeous “salsita”.

Yield: Serves 6

3 dozen mussels, cleaned and de-bearded

1 Cup of “Simple Court Bouillon” or water

½ Cup of corn kernels, cooked

2 tomatoes, concassé

1/3 Cup of peeled and seeded cucumber, minced

½ red onion, minced

1 scotch bonnet, stemmed, seeded, minced


Feb 20, 2016


© 2014 All rights reserved by Norman & Janet Van Aken

Coffee as a spice is not as odd as it may seems. Try this on a big Rib Steak and grill away!

Yield: 1/2 Cup

2 Tablespoons finely ground coffee (de-cafe is fine too)

1 ½ Tablespoons kosher salt

1 Tablespoon granulated (white or raw) sugar

1 Tablespoon brown sugar

1 ½ tablespoons granulated garlic

1 heaping teaspoon black pepper

¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper

¼ teaspoon ground cumin

Johnny Bread

Feb 13, 2016


2016 © All Rights Reserved by Norman & Janet Van Aken, “My Key West Kitchen”

Yield: One 9-inch square pan.

Key Lime Pie

Feb 6, 2016


by Justin & Norman Van Aken © 2012, “My Key West Kitchen”, Kyle Books

Discos Voladores

Jan 30, 2016

Hash Browns

Jan 23, 2016


© 2016 All Rights Reserved by Norman Van Aken

2 russet potatoes, scrubbed well, peeled if desired

1/4 Cup bacon fat or pure olive oil or Clarified Butter (or any combination of them)

1 teaspoon cayenne

1 teaspoon Spanish pimentón

1 Tablespoon of whole butter

salt and pepper to taste

Shred potatoes into a large bowl filled with cold water. Stir until water is cloudy. Now drain, and cover potatoes again with fresh cold water. Stir again to dissolve excess starch.

Buss Up Shut

Jan 16, 2016


Jan 9, 2016


Norman Van Aken, © 2001 Excerpted from “New World Kitchen”, HarperCollins Books

These deliciously addicting fried dough strings dusted with sugar and cinnamon, are traditional street desserts sold in many Latin American countries. They are originally from Spain, but the Spanish explorers of the 16th century brought them to the New World and the Mexicans adopted them as their popular street snack. Today, Churros are served as a dessert and they make a great pair with Cajeta or a hot cup of frothy Mexican Chocolate.

Noodle Slurping

Jan 2, 2016


Norman Van Aken, © 2006 Yield: 1 cup 3 Tablespoons lime juice3 Tablespoons soy sauce2 Tablespoons honey1 Tablespoon rice wine vinegar1½ teaspoon mirin2 teaspoon ginger, peeled & minced1 Tablespoon sesame oil½ teaspoon chipotles en adobo½ Cup pure olive oil2 Tablespoon cilantro, chopped2 Tablespoon basil, choppedsalt & pepper Combine all ingredients except olive oil and herbs into blender.With blender running, gradually add olive oil.Add herbs, blend until smooth. Season with salt & pepper. Reserve or dress on noodlesas desired.5.6.06


Dec 26, 2015


Copyright © by Norman Van Aken, 2015

Although I’m more known for Latin and Asian flavors I still have been fortunate enough to spend many years in a state that is also quite “southern” in its pedigree. One of the most serious complements I have received have been from a number of true born and bred children of the South who have murmured their appreciation for my way with catfish and collards.

Yield: Serves 4