norman van aken

Monthly dinner series at historic MiMo restaurant invites guests to embark on a global culinary journey, with first dinner to showcase Mexico on Cinco de Mayo

Executive Chef Alex Chang and South Florida’s culinary godfather, Chef Norman Van Aken are pairing up to create a series of four monthly dinners at MiMo’s Vagabond Restaurant & Bar, to showcase signature dishes from four distinct corners of the world, including Mexico, Japan, Peru, and India. Together, Chang and Van Aken will present a unique collaboration to create classic dishes from these four diverse destinations, while incorporating their respective cooking techniques.

“The alliance of a young-gun, such as Chang with a veteran chef of Van Aken’s caliber, makes for a truly special experience,” says Vagabond Restaurant & Bar partner and seasoned restaurateur Alvaro Perez-Miranda. “The symbiotic relationship between the two chefs is reminiscent of the traditional Japanese notion of a ‘senpai’, with Van Aken playing the role of a mentor in the kitchen, and Alex as a blooming chef with a bright future.”

The first Four Corners of the World dinner will kick-off on Cinco de Mayo and will present one-of-a-kind signature dishes from Mexico that the talented chefs have carefully created to bring the complex flavors of the region to life. For the debut of the dinner series, Chef Norman Van Aken will dish out an inventive twist on traditional Mexican fare. Utilizing components, such as an ancho chile jam and tamale stuffing and an ancho-tamarind glazed roasted quail, Van Aken’s signature fusionist style will resonate within each creation. Chef Alex Chang’s eclectic take on the menu will combine classic Mexican ingredients like pork chicharrón, ayocote bean, and habanero pepper, with bold flavors, such as sal de gusano, an Oaxacan spice made from sea salt, toasted agave worms, and chile costeño.

Alex Chang has quickly risen to success in the culinary arena, elevating the Miami food scene in just a few months of taking the helm as Executive Chef of the Vagabond Restaurant & Bar. At just 25 years of age, he’s experienced working at top restaurants in Los Angeles, Mexico City, Tokyo, and Belgium, providing him with a deep understanding of the unique flavors and techniques of cuisine from quite literally, the four corners of the world.

Norman Van Aken, South Florida’s most revered chef, is known as “the founding father of New World Cuisine,” a celebration of Latin, Caribbean, Asian, African and American flavors, and internationally for introducing the concept of “Fusion” to the culinary world. He has earned numerous awards and recognitions from such prestigious organizations as the James Beard Foundation, having been named the  “Who’s Who in American Food and Beverage.” He is also a celebrated author, having published several books including his most recent My Key West Kitchen and is Chef-Owner of NORMAN’S at the Ritz-Carlton, Grande Lakes, Orlando.

Van Aken will also be bringing his latest venture In the Kitchen with Norman Van Aken, a cooking school offering more than 160 classes for all levels of enthusiasts to the historic Vagabond Hotel, aiming to inspire students and navigate them through the world of cuisine.  Along with his partner and chef, Candace Walsh, they aim to bridge the gap between the public’s ever-expanding food knowledge and interest with their skill set.  “We’ve noticed in recent years that people’s interest in food has not kept pace with their ability to effortlessly prepare flavorsome and nutritious food at home.  This is mainly due to the changing dynamics of the nuclear family where the tradition of food preparation is being lost and the removal of food preparation instruction in the school systems.  We will provide students, starting from the age of 5, with the tools they need to be successful in the kitchen,” states Walsh. Van Aken and Chang’s collaboration on the upcoming Four Corners of the World dinner will create a springboard for the highly anticipated cooking school at the Vagabond Hotel.

The first Four Corners of the World event will take place on Cinco de Mayo (May 5th) and will offer two seating options, at 7:00pm and 9:30pm, with two prix-fixe menus priced at either $130 per person for food only or $190 per person with food and wine pairing. Chef Norman Van Aken’s new book My Key West Kitchen, will also be available for purchase and signing. Reservations for “Four Corners of the World” can be made via Eventbrite link: here. For more information please call the Vagabond Restaurant & Bar at 786.409.5635 or email [email protected]

Vagabond Restaurant & Bar

Located at the famed Vagabond Hotel in the Miami Modern (MiMo) historical district, the Vagabond Restaurant & Bar is the first collaboration between Restaurateur Alvaro Perez Miranda, Executive Chef Alex Chang and Financier Chris Wang. The restaurant features a global menu anchored in American, Latin and Asian influences. The menu is a coalescence of Executive Chef Alex Chang’s worldly experiences over the last few years, having had stints at such renowned restaurants as Animal in Los Angeles, Pujol in Polanco, Mexico, Les Creations de Narisawa in Tokyo and In De Wulf in Heuvelland, Belgium. The concept for the restaurant is “casual fine dining” and was created to cater to the “contemporary vagabond,” a modern-day adventurer with a penchant for global food, drink and art.  The mantra of casual fine dining pervades everything in the restaurant from the understated elegance in Chef Chang’s culinary creations, to the floor service helmed by Perez Miranda and Wang, exuding a warm, high-energy vibe with the goal of treating every patron as a VIP.

www.vagabondrestaurant.com

About In The Kitchen with Norman Van Aken at The Vagabond Hotel

With one of America’s favorite chef’s co-operating a cutting edge culinary education center, locals and visiting guests will have access to an abundant culinary program.  From the practical to the whimsical, to the short-and-sweet to the in-depth, guests of all ages will be able to explore the culinary arts with a fun hands-on approach.  Look for the opening in the Fall 2015.

www.inthekitchenmiami.com

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Norman Van Aken

Norman Van Aken is a chef, restaurateur, teacher, mentor, radio show host and author. He is known as “the founding father of New World Cuisine,” a celebration of Latin, Caribbean, Asian, African and American flavors and internationally for introducing the concept of “Fusion” to the culinary world. He has earned numerous awards and recognitions from such prestigious organization as the James Beard Foundation having been named the  “Who’s Who in American Food and Beverage.” He is also an accomplished author, having published five cookbooks. He has appeared on several local and national television programs, such as CNN, NPR and Jimmy Kimmel Live. He is the Chef-Owner of “NORMAN’S at the Ritz-Carlton, Grande Lakes, Orlando”. He plans to open a Cooking School in Biscayne in Miami named, “In the Kitchen with Norman Van Aken” in partnership with Candace Walsh. In 2015 he will represent Florida at the USA Pavilion at EXPO Milano as part of the World’s Fair. Titled, “American Food 2.0, United to Feed the Planet”.

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