A Word On Food

Saturdays at 8:34 AM

Chef Norman Van Aken
Credit www.normanvanaken.com

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 book is a memoir. It is titled, “No Experience Necessary,” (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 91.3.

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

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Norman Van Aken's A Word On Food
8:40 am
Sat August 9, 2014

Frito Pie

Frito Pie
Credit Norman Van Aken

BICYCLE SAMMY’S FRITO PIE

©2014 All Rights Reserved by Norman Van Aken and Justin Van Aken. Excerpted from “My Key West Kitchen”, Kyle Books

The Midget was known foremost for its barbecued ribs. One day Sammy got the idea to cut the meat off the ribs leftover from the night before and toss it in a pot of chili. Because most home cooks are not faced with loads of leftover rib ends, we’ve replaced them here with braised pork shoulder to make a chili that’s just as flavorful but without the work of slow cooking on the grill and having to take the meat off the bones.

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Norman Van Aken's A Word On Food
8:40 am
Sat August 2, 2014

Fritters

Norman Van Aken's A Word On Food
8:40 am
Sat July 26, 2014

Butter

A batch of home made butter.
Credit Norman Van Aken

BROKEN OLIVE BUTTER

Norman Van Aken. © Copyright 2014

The olives here are "broken" so we can remove the pits. Then we make a simple compound butter with them with plenty of herbs, garlic, and spices to serve on the beef. Allow the butter to soften a little before placing directly on meat or fish that are hot from the grill, pan or oven.

Yield: 1 ½ Cups

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Norman Van Aken's A Word On Food
8:00 am
Sat July 19, 2014

Vaca Frita

Credit Norman Van Aken

Before I looked at him I heard his voice. He was ordering from the blackboard menu.

''Vaca Frita please with moros" he added. American accent all the way. But he knew he was going to be 

  getting rice and beans when he requested those items. Confidence all the way. He was told in Spanglish, "you get y una mas 'Side'."

He responded. "Do you have Maduro Plantains?"

"Si!"

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Norman Van Aken's A Word On Food
8:00 am
Sat July 19, 2014

Vaca Frita

Credit Norman Van Aken

Before I looked at him I heard his voice. He was ordering from the blackboard menu.

''Vaca Frita please with moros" he added. American accent all the way. But he knew he was going to be 

  getting rice and beans when he requested those items. Confidence all the way. He was told in Spanglish, "you get y una mas 'Side'."

He responded. "Do you have Maduro Plantains?"

"Si!"

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Norman Van Aken's A Word On Food
8:00 am
Sat July 12, 2014

The Egg

A rack of eggs.
Credit Norman Van Aken

The summer I became a golf caddie was one filled with suddenly unfamiliar routines and the deep lows and soaring highs of messy adolescence. I was 14 years of age and not skipping smoothly along the surface of life’s waters. My childhood pals, the Harris boys seemed to suffer no similar quandaries so as is so often the case of adolescent logic I was infinitely attracted to them.

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Norman Van Aken's A Word On Food
8:00 am
Sat July 5, 2014

Butchery

A collection of knives and other tools used by butchers.
Credit Norman Van Aken

  The sun was hot and bore down on a shirtless man holding a shining silvery saw. It was 1957 and we were in Miami Beach. I was with my parents and two sisters and we were amidst a crowd. Everyone sat in rapt silence in front of a cement bandstand near the hotel's swimming pool as he evoked other-worldly musical sounds from a standard carpenter’s tool. 

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Norman Van Aken's A Word On Food
8:40 am
Sat June 28, 2014

Scones

Scones.
Credit Norman Van Aken

My grandmother made scones. Her maiden name was Janie Quinn so she came by that knowledge like her Scottish cousins did. Birthright!In Scotland scones are not somethingjust to go with tea. They are a national institution. When my grandmother, "Nana" mad e them she was serious to the point of severe. I picked up on it ... and she caused me to love them like I learned to love standing up in our grade school classroom reciting the 'Pledge of Allegiance'.

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Norman Van Aken's A Word On Food
8:40 am
Sat June 21, 2014

Plantains

Credit Norman Van Aken

"Sherman, my boy," as Mr. Peabody from the old "Rocky and Bullwinkle" TV show might have intoned, "Please set the' Way Back Machine ' to the summer of 1973". We're going to a little restaurant on Duval Street in Key West called Cafe Expresso.

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Norman Van Aken's A Word On Food
2:29 pm
Tue June 17, 2014

The Foods Of India

‘A Word on Food’ is done with words of course. Where would I be without them? Our blonde-haired, blue-eyed granddaughter Audrey is not yet two yet she is teaching me to try more communication...

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Norman Van Aken's A Word On Food
1:00 pm
Wed June 4, 2014

Caviar

Containers filled with caviar.
Credit Norman Van Aken

You don’t eat caviar because you’re hungry. But the portion set before us at a dinner the other night was certainly capable of staving off a serious quantity of pang.

We all eye’d the curvaceous morsels of edible hedonism. They were caviar-stuffed, chive-tied crêpes perched upon the base of empty, over-turned, long stemmed Riedel wine glasses. This caviar presentation was done in the style of the legendary “beggars purses” as created by Chef Barry Wine the once-upon-a-gilded-time owner of the ‘Quilted Giraffe’ restaurant of New York City.

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Norman Van Aken's A Word On Food
12:40 pm
Wed June 4, 2014

Caramelization

Pictured from left to right, Onions in a skillet going through the cooking process of caramelization.
Credit Norman Van Aken

Inevitably I have a conversation with nearly every chef that comes to work with me as well as the students who attend my cooking classes. It has to do with a cooking term “caramelization”.

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Norman Van Aken's A Word On Food
10:57 am
Wed May 21, 2014

Nachos

A plate of crispy nachos.
Credit Norman Van Aken


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Norman Van Aken's A Word On Food
8:00 am
Sat May 10, 2014

Hamburgers

Hamburger with fries, ketchup and mustard.
Credit Norman Van Aken


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Norman Van Aken's A Word On Food
10:17 am
Wed May 7, 2014

Peppers

Peppers for Pope Chilies
Credit Norman Van Aken


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