Norman Van Aken: My 10 Irrefutable Truths About Cooking


Norman Van Aken, chef, restaurateur, and author of several cookbooks and a soon-to-be-released memoir, isn’t called “the founding father of New World Cuisine” for nothing. With his combination of Latin, Caribbean, Asian, African and American cuisines, he’s considered to be a pioneer in the world of new American cuisine and the chef who coined the term “fusion cooking.”

Over the years, he’s learned a thing or two about food and cooking. Lucky for us, he was only too happy to share with Edible Orlando readers his insights and tricks of the trade.

1. Food is supposed to be capable of taking you home, even if it’s a home you’ve never been to before. You can travel the world with your palate.

2. There is such a thing as turning off the soup you make too early or too late. Timing is everything when finding the delicious arch of your creation.

3. My pots and pans are like my friends. They are not a set; they are all different and appreciated for their own special attributes.

4. Tropical fruits no more like being in a refrigerator than live parrots.

5. Let the hot butter foam around the garlic and chilies until you can smell the signal to move forth. Your nose, not the clock, will almost always be your best guide.

6. Apples are hard but still they bruise as fast as any heart. Handle them with the care you would your best friend.

7. So many foods come roaring to life with only a squeeze of lemon and a pinch of salt.

8. The more a cooking vessel is stained with different colors from previous preparations, the more likely the meal will be interesting. Cuisines from around the world provide a kaleidoscope of pigments that add to the complexity of food over time.

9. As in apples, mangos and tomatoes, don’t confuse beautiful with delicious. Let not your eyes but your nose and tongue decide what is delicious.

10. Pepper is not a gun meant to be unfired. Let it drop from your hand. Salt is not a sacrament for the few. Share it like laughter.

NORMAN’S 10th Anniversary Black Tie Gala
On Saturday, August 24 at 6:00pm, Norman will be celebrating the 10th anniversary of his The Ritz-Carlton restaurant, NORMAN’S, with a spectacular Black Tie Gala in support of the Orlando Ballet. Joined by Chefs Emeril Lagasse, Charlie Trotter, Dean Fearing, Jeremiah Tower and several local culinary superstars, Norman will present an eight- course dinner with wines paired by several Master Sommeliers. An after dinner soiree will be held at NORMAN’S with dancing, music, entertainment and libations.

The Gala will kick off with a “Meet and Greet Cocktail Party” from 5-7pm on Friday, August 23 when guests of the gala are invited to come chat up the attending chefs and sommeliers.

Tickets, which are $1,000 per person, will include a one night’s stay at The Ritz-Carlton, Orlando Grande Lakes as well as autographed copies of the chef-authored cookbooks. For more information contact Laura Errington: [email protected] or call 407-393-4343.