Norman Van Aken is widely known as the father of New World Cuisine. The Midwestern chef found his voice in a Key West kitchen and went on to bring the flavors and sensibilities of the Caribbean to diners and cooks all over America. Now he’s focused on cementing his legacy and making sure the knowledge he’s gained is available to the next generation.
Between the cable networks and the blogs, the Instagram accounts and the YouTube channels, the cookbooks and the magazines, food is everywhere, and there doesn’t seem to be any shortage of opportunity to become a food celebrity. All it takes is a bit of personality, a cell phone camera, access to melty cheese and a willingness to say that anything that looks melty or gooey or meaty or bready is “amazing.” Hell, look at that Food God guy on Instagram. Somehow he’s made a career of posing with foods and acting (poorly) like he’s thrilled just to be looking at them.
With that oversaturation of food media that’s in our faces no matter where we turn, it can be easy to lose sight of the fact that being a chef is about real craft, real skill, and real creativity. The good ones can run a kitchen. The great ones can tell stories with their food. And then there’s an elite class of chefs who shift the culture by making special contributions to the language of food itself. When it comes to telling the story of South Florida through cuisine, no chef has made a deeper contribution to the area’s food vocabulary than Norman Van Aken.
Now hit the link above to read the entire article that appears in Cigar Snob Magazine. And pick up a copy of the mag at a Books & Books store near you. Have a drink. Enjoy.
Natalia Aguilera Photographer.