For Norman Van Aken, his new position as executive chef at the Miami Culinary Institute, announced last week, was meant to be.
"There has been a journey in my life that has set me in a course to be involved in a culinary school," he told Short Order.
Van Aken already had been involved with the school -- which opened in downtown Miami in April -- as a member of its chef's council and teaching classes for enthusiasts. As its executive chef, a role that brought him back to Miami from Key West, he is responsible for the café, catering services and opening the school's restaurant, which he said is his priority.
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"It is the synergy between being at the restaurant and being at the school that I feel makes this position a real highlight of my career," he said.
The details are in the works but Van Aken says we can expect New World cuisine and a focus on local ingredients. We can also expect dinners featuring other local and visiting chefs. Van Aken has reached out to Emeril Lagasse, Dean Fearing and Charlie Trotter about the possibility of either teaching a class or cooking a special dinner at the school.
The restaurant is expected to open in the fall. If anyone out there is looking for a job, Van Aken is hiring.