A Word On Food

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“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 was s 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 memoir captured the attention of the prestigious IACP/Julia Child Award and received a ‘finalist nomination’ along with Michael Pollan, Anne Willan and Luke Barr.

Chef Van Aken opened “1921 by Norman Van Aken” a restaurant in Mount Dora, Florida in September, 2016. The restaurant has 160 seats with indoor and outdoor dining open for lunch and dinner featuring “Modern Florida Cuisine”. It is in alliance with the extraordinary Modernism Museum directly across the street. The restaurant’s design includes many elements from the Museum’s collection of art. Additionally he is partnered with Candace Walsh to open “In the Kitchen with Norman Van Aken”, a cooking school in Miami in June of 2017. The two are joined by restaurateur Susan Buckley and debuting a new restaurant and roof-deck lounge adjacent to the school due this summer. The restaurant is named “Three”. Chef Norman is the Chef and founder of NORMAN’S at the Ritz-Carlton, Grande Lakes, Orlando which opened in 2003 and has many local and national accolades.

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. There he is featured on his column, “Kitchen Conversations” which have featured chefs, authors, wine-makers, cocktail gurus and restaurant luminaries.

His next book, “Norman Van Aken’s Florida Kitchen” will be out in Fall of 2017 and published by University of Florida Press.

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.

The Saucier

May 20, 2017

SAUCE CREOLE

Norman Van Aken, © 2001

The Brazilian influences of cuisine have invigorated several others. Here we have a sauce that is indelibly linked with the glorious flavors of New Orleans but it knew a prior home in Brazil and, of course, Africa in various guises and permutations.

Yield: 3 Cups

1 ounces bacon, diced

1 Tablespoon pure olive oil

1 Tablespoons butter

1 scotch bonnet chile, stem and seeds discarded, minced

2 cloves of raw garlic, minced

Batidos

May 13, 2017

MAMEY BATIDO MILKSHAKE

Norman Van Aken, 2012 Copyright ©

Yield: Serves 2-3 depending on how thirsty you are

1 Cup fresh, ripe mamey cubed, (peel and pit discarded)

1 Cup milk

1/4 Cup buttermilk

¼ Cup sugar or honey

1 dash vanilla extract, (optional)

½ Cup ice cubes

Blend all of the above together very well. Serve.

Note: Frozen mamey pulp can be found in many Latin and Caribbean grocery stores. The flavor is pretty good though not as exquisite as the ripe, fresh one.

Artichokes

May 6, 2017

ARTICHOKE FRITTERS WITH OLI

©2008 All rights reserved by Norman Van Aken

Yield: 30-36

For the Fritters:
5 Cups cooked and drained artichoke hearts, chopped 1 Tablespoon thyme leaves,
1 egg
1/3 Cup milk
1 Cup, (or slightly more if needed) sifted flour
1 1⁄4 Tablespoons baking powder
1⁄2 teaspoon kosher salt
3⁄4 Cups red onion, minced
3 Tablespoons beer
1⁄2 teaspoon ground cumin
~
Canola or peanut oil for deep-frying (as needed)

Arroz Chaufa

Apr 29, 2017
Photo by Debi Harbin

ARROZ CHAUFA

© 2016 All Rights Reserved by Norman Van Aken

Yield: 3 1/2 Cups

2 Cups cooked jasmine or basmati rice, (see below)

1 Tablespoon canola oil

5 ounces raw, broken up somewhat ‘hot’ (or mild) style Italian sausage

1 Cup onion, peeled and chopped medium

1 Scotch bonnet (or Thai or other hot) chile, seeded and stemmed, minced

1/2 Tablespoon minced ginger

4 scallions, trimmed and cut cross-wise into rings

2 Tablespoons garlic, minced

Bouillabaisse

Apr 22, 2017

Cochinita Pibil

Apr 15, 2017

Pig's Ears

Apr 8, 2017

Wedge Salads

Apr 1, 2017

Hot Sauces

Mar 25, 2017

The Fish Butcher

Mar 18, 2017

Ketchup

Mar 11, 2017

Coq Au Vin

Mar 4, 2017

Queso Frito

Feb 25, 2017

Pa Amb Tomaquet

Feb 18, 2017

Tuna Tartare

Feb 11, 2017

TUNA TARTARE

Norman Van Aken © 2004

¼ Cup minced red onion

½-1 jalapeño, seeds and stems removed and finely minced

4 teaspoons ginger, peeled and finely minced

2 teaspoon lemongrass, inner stalks, finely minced, (optional but good if available)

1 teaspoon dark roasted sesame oil

2 teaspoons soy sauce

2 teaspoons grated orange zest, minced

2 teaspoons grated lemon zest, minced

1 # Sushi Quality Tuna, sinew, bloodline and fat removed, diced small

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