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Van Aken

Norman Van Aken

'Three'

“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’s newest ventures are with Candace Walsh of Miami. They have created “In the Kitchen with Norman Van Aken”, a cooking school in Miami. The two are joined by restaurateur Susan Buckley and debuting a their new restaurant, ‘Three’ and roof-deck lounge (No. 3 Social). Chef Norman is the Chef/Founder of NORMAN’S at the Ritz-Carlton, Grande Lakes, Orlando which opened in 2003 and has many national accolades. Chef Van Aken opened “1921 by Norman Van Aken” a restaurant in Mount Dora, Florida in September, 2016. The restaurant features “Modern Florida Cuisine”. It is in alliance with the extraordinary Modernism Museum directly across the street.

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 new cookbook, “Norman Van Aken’s Florida Kitchen” just came out and is 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.

More about Norman Van Aken

What is your ultimate comfort food?That changes often (!) but I am loving Chinese dumplings (in various forms and infinite fillings) now.If you weren't a chef, what would you be?I'd own a bar in the lower Florida Keys with a water view, a few pool tables, a killer rotation of bands and a quiet library a short bicycle ride away.What three things are always in your pantry?An array of vinegars, an array of dried chilies and Spanish boquerones.If you could cook with anyone in the world, who would it be?That means alive I presume so... Jacques Pépin.