Orlando Sentinel: Amy Drew Thompson
“It was Saturday night in the ritzy enclave of Coral Gables and the board was full of tickets. Chef Norman Van Aken was expediting orders, hands flying fast, when a gentleman strolled into the madness of the kitchen and introduced himself.
Van Aken didn’t know it, but it was the moment his Central Florida odyssey would begin.
“I just thought the guy was in Miami, having a good time, maybe an extra cocktail,” Van Aken remembers.
“ ’We’re building a new property in Orlando,’ he said to me. ‘We do great hotels, but we don’t do great restaurants. Would you like to have a Norman’s at the Ritz-Carlton?’ ”
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