Food

This Coral Gables restaurant lost its star chef, but another big name moved in to take his place

La Ventanita: Norman Van Aken discusses how Cuban food in Key West shaped his career

Key West was a huge influence on chef Norman Van Aken, who became one of the great innovators in American cuisine. He discussed hitchhiking from the Midwest over Cuban coffee, pastelitos and croquetas.
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Key West was a huge influence on chef Norman Van Aken, who became one of the great innovators in American cuisine. He discussed hitchhiking from the Midwest over Cuban coffee, pastelitos and croquetas.

Just two fast months after opening in the former Swine locale in Coral Gables, highly anticipated restaurant Ad Lib is having a bit of a chef shakeup.

50 Eggs, the hospitality group behind Southern comfort food spots Yardbird and Spring Chicken, announced on March 15 that it parted ways with chef/partner Jamie DeRosa, leaving the kitchen under the direction of corporate chef Patrick Rebholz.

The restaurant responded in a big way, by bringing in one of Miami’s most celebrated chefs.

James Beard Award winner and one of Miami’s Mango Gang originals, Norman Van Aken, signed on to round out the restaurant’s so-called dream team, which includes pastry chef Hedy Goldsmith, herself nominated for a James Beard award. He is also listed as both chef and partner.

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It’s a return to Coral Gables for Van Aken, whose namesake restaurant Norman’s brought national attention to South Florida for the more than 10 years it was in business. It was a finalist for the James Beard award for best restaurant in America and Van Aken would go on to win the Beard award for Who’s Who in American Food and Beverage.

Van Aken maintains a Norman’s, focusing on his New World Cuisine, at the Ritz-Carlton, Orlando. And he continues in his role as chef at the restaurant Three, In the Kitchen with Norman Van Aken cooking school and No. 3 Social cocktail bar, all in the Wynwood Arcade.

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