The first restaurant I cooked in was a diner. It was in the town I was born in… Libertyville, Illinois. It was actually a place I went to with my family a few times over the years up until the time for me to go to work arrived. I answered a want ad for a ‘short order cook, no experience necessary’ in 1972. I have written a memoir by about nearly the same exact name so if you are curious you can read about that road taken. You will be along with me for quite a ride.

The current restaurants are listed by their chronological order.


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We are located in the sumptuous environment of The Ritz-Carlton, Grande Lakes, Orlando. It is a luxurious place to dine and I’m very proud of the team. We have now celebrated our 15th Anniversary there. We’ve hosted a great many special dinners, wine dinners and visiting guest chef dinners over the years. To name just a few we’ve cooked with Charlie Trotter, Emeril Lagasse, Jeremiah Tower, Ming Tsai, Edward Lee and Carrie Nahabedian there. Our dining room is a large ‘rotunda’ shaped room with a stunningly tranquil view of the resort’s beautifully, lush golf course. To dine there is to know that fine, (and comfortably joyful) dining is still alive in America.

NORMAN’S at the Ritz-Carlton, Orlando, Grande Lakes
The Ritz-Carlton
4012 Central Florida Parkway
Orlando, Fl. 32837

Photo Credit to Open Eye Studio
Photo Credit to Open Eye Studio


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A few years ago it became my mission to open up a cooking school for any and all. I basically sent a message out to the Universe that this was what I wanted to do next with my career. After forty years of cooking I felt the deep desire to share my knowledge with more people. That eventually led me to a new partnership and that led me to the new restaurant located in the Wynwood Arts District of Miami. The restaurant is elegantly modern. A large painting of Frida Kahlo, (an artistic hero of mine) looks out over the dining room and a large, open and energetic ‘chef’s counter’ is center stage so guest’s can view the cooking and engage our team of chefs.

at Wynwood Arcade
50 NW 24th St.
Miami, Fl. 33127

© 2019 Norman Van Aken. All rights Reserved.