Norman Van Aken

Norman Van Aken has been described as legendary, visionary and a trailblazer. He is known as “the founding father of New World Cuisine,” a celebration of Latin, Caribbean, Asian, African and American flavors. He is also known internationally for introducing the concept of “Fusion” to the culinary world.

His new memoir, “No Experience Necessary” is published by Taylor Trade Publishing. The book has been praised by the likes of Thomas Keller, Mario Batali, Emeril Lagasse, Monique Truong, Alan Richman (GQ Magazine), Jeremiah Tower, Wolfgang Puck and the late, great Charlie Trotter.

He is the only Floridian inducted into the prestigious James Beard list of “Who’s Who in American Food and Beverage.” His restaurant “NORMAN’S was nominated as a finalist for the James Beard Foundation’s “Best Restaurant in America.” He has been a James Beard Foundation semi-finalist for “Best Chef in America.”

In 2006, he was honored as one of the “Founders of the New American Cuisine,” alongside Alice Waters, Paul Prudhomme, and Mark Miller at Spain’s International Summit of Gastronomy ‘Madrid Fusión’ event.

Norman Van Aken has published five cookbooks: Feast of Sunlight 1988, The Exotic Fruit Book 1995, Norman’s New World Cuisine 1997, New World Kitchen 2003 and My Key West Kitchen 2012 (with Justin Van Aken).

His radio show, “A Word on Food,” appears twice a week on NPR station WLRN.

He is the chef and founder of “NORMAN’S at the Ritz-Carlton, Grande Lakes, Orlando.” 

The Mother Sauces

Jul 27, 2019


Norman Van Aken © Copyright 2003, All Rights Reserved

Yield:  1½ Cup

3 egg yolks

½ pound of unsalted butter

1½ teaspoon lemon juice

Tabasco, to taste

Kosher salt, to taste

Freshly cracked black pepper, to taste

Cut the butter into several pieces and allow it to melt. (I do not clarify butter for sauce Béarnaise nor Hollandaise.)

Julia Child

Jul 13, 2019



Yield: 6 to 8 Servings

Butter for pan

1 1/4 cups whole or 2 % milk

2/3 cup granulated sugar, divided

3 eggs

1 Tablespoon vanilla extract

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 cup flour

1 pint (2 generous cups) blackberries or blueberries, rinsed and well drained

Powdered sugar in a shaker

Heat the oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly butter a medium-sized flameproof baking dish at least 1 1/2 inches deep.

Won Tons

Jun 22, 2019


Copyright © by Norman Van Aken, 1999. All rights reserved.


(Yields: 14-16 Won Tons)

For the won ton filling:

14-16 won ton wrappers

4 ounces raw pork sausage

8 ounces of raw, cleaned shrimp

½ of a large egg white, beaten until foamy

½ teaspoon sugar

¼ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cracked black pepper

1 ½ teaspoon cornstarch

½ teaspoon soy sauce

½ teaspoon ketchup

2 Tablespoons finely minced scallions


Jun 8, 2019


Norman & Justin Van Aken © All rights reserved. “My Key West Kitchen”

If you are using fresh morels be sure to clean them in a few changes of warm water. Spin gently to dry and place on absorbent toweling prior to cooking them. This recipe works with a wide variety of mushrooms.

Serves 4 as an appetizer

3 Tablespoons of XVOO

1 Tablespoon butter

Chopped Steak

May 25, 2019


© 2019 All Rights Reserved by Norman Van Aken

Yield: About 4) 9-ounce chopped steaks

6 slices of soft, thin-cut white bread, trimmed of crusts

2 eggs, beaten

1/2-1 (depending on how much spice you like) jalapeño, stemmed, seeded and minced

1/2 Cup sweet onion, chopped fine

2 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

1/2 teaspoon ground mustard powder

2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped

salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Spring Rolls

May 17, 2019


Norman Van Aken ©2005

This is a Vietnamese dipping sauce that can be used for many things. It goes by the name Nuoc Cham. To make spring rolls to your liking there are a number of good books on that as well as online sources.

Yield: 3 Cups

1 jalapeño (or Serrano) chile, seeds removed, thinly sliced

1 habanero chile, stemmed, seed and minced

2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

1 ½ Cups sugar


1 ½ Cups warm water


Apr 27, 2019


Source: FEAST OF SUNLIGHT, Norman Van Aken

I often use this to garnish gumbo.

2 pounds okra, in excellent shape, rinsed and patted dry

12 dried chiles (cayenne, sequin, or the like)

6 garlic cloves, halved

2 Tablespoons mustard seeds

2 Tablespoons dill seeds

1 quart cider vinegar

1 quart rice wine vinegar

1 quart water

24 whole black peppercorns

Boil the canning jars and lids as described in canning manufacturers directions.


Apr 13, 2019


Copyright © by Norman Van Aken, 2003

4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, cut into small pieces

1 1/2 Tablespoons water

2 Tablespoons butter

Place the chocolate pieces and water in a stainless steel bowl, and heat over a double boiler until melted, stirring until smooth. 

Remove from the heat and whisk in the butter. 

Keep warm until needed.

Steak Sauce

Apr 6, 2019


©2004 All rights reserved by Norman Van Aken

This is classic Japanese sauce that is typically served on panko crusted pork cutlets. But… it can also liven up a steak. Give it a try!

Yield: 2 Cups

1 teaspoon dry mustard

2 Tablespoons hot water

Mix this together and reserve a moment.

½ Cup ketchup

2 Tablespoons minced ginger

1 Scotch bonnet chile, stem and seeds discarded, minced

3 garlic cloves, minced

Beurre Blanc

Mar 30, 2019

Beurre blanc

©2002 All rights reserved by Norman Van Aken


Yield: 1½ Cups

6 tablespoon white wine

3 tablespoon white wine vinegar

¼ cup shallots, minced

1 bay leaf

1 teaspoon black pepper

½ Cup heavy cream

¾ lb butter (3 sticks), cut into small bits, kept cold

½ teaspoon lemon juice

Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste

Brown Sugar

Mar 23, 2019


Norman Van Aken, © 2018

30 ounces by weight once cleaned of cubed butternut squash, (or what’s in season)

1/2 Cup XVOO

1/4 Cup light brown sugar

1 teaspoon smoked pimentón

2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 Tablespoon kosher salt

cracked black pepper to taste

Preheat an oven to 375 degrees


Mar 16, 2019


© 2012 All rights reserved by Norman Van Aken

Yield: 4 small ‘sandwiches’

3 eggs, hard boiled, peeled and finely chopped. (I like to not utilize all of the whites). Season with a little salt and pepper and moisten with a bit of Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Chill and reserve.


8 thin slices of brioche, about 2.5 x 2.5 inches in size each

3 Tablespoons softened, unsalted butter

2 ounces caviar, (or more if you like)

crème fraîche as desired


Feb 23, 2019


Norman Van Aken © All Rights Reserved

Yes this is large batch but it freezes well and when you are making a soup such as this one it is just as easy to make a large volume as a small one. And the rewards are the next time you want some you are set!

Yield: 9 quarts

1 chicken (about 3 pounds), halved

¾ pound boneless pork shoulder

¾ pound pork bones

Manteca, as needed

6 garlic cloves, sliced

2 jalapeños, minced

2 onions, diced medium

Conch Salad

Feb 9, 2019


©2012 All rights reserved by Norman Van Aken

Norman Van Aken, © All Rights Reserved

2 pounds cleaned, fresh conch, diced and lightly salted for 30 minutes

1/2 Cup fresh squeezed orange juice

1/4 Cup fresh lime juice

1/4 Cup fresh lemon juice

1 jalapeño, stemmed, seeded and minced

½ Cup XVOO

¼ Cup kosher salt, (or more to taste)

¼ Cup roughly chopped fresh cilantro

1 cucumber, peeled and diced medium, slightly salted

1 yellow bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and diced small


Feb 2, 2019

CORN STICKS                                                                                              

© 2016 All Rights Reserved by Norman & Janet Van Aken

This is cornbread but in the shape of mini corn on the cob. We make these in heavy old-fashioned corn stick cast iron pans. ‘Lodge’ makes a fine brand. There are indents in them to mimic the shapes of perfect small ears of corn.

Yield: 14 (cute as hell) Corn Sticks

For the Batter:

3 eggs, beaten

8 ounces sour cream