Norman Van Aken at Books and Books

 

With his son

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Talent runs in the family.

Local chef Norman Van Aken and his son Justin will discuss and sign My Key West Kitchen (Kyle Books, $29.95) 8 p.m. November 27 at Books & Books, Coral Gables.

Long before Jimmy Buffett wrote “Margaritaville” about Key West, James Beard award-winner Van Aken had already pledged allegiance to the magical little scrap of land at the end of the rainbow.

"I just felt lucky when I walked the old small streets and alleys, protected by some ancient maternal force,” he said of the reason for writing the book.

It was in The Keys that Norman first found his passion for cooking and where the unique cultural make-up of the island really made a major influence on his cuisine.

Now all food lovers can enjoy the diverse flavors of Key West with Norman’s new cookbook, co-written with his son, chef Justin Van Aken, My Key West Kitchen: Recipes and Stories, which literally is the father-and-son team’s love letter to the island. Part cookbook, part travelogue, part memoir, follow the two as they stroll through the streets of Key West, reminiscing and recreating dishes from “little joints,” established restaurants, and from the kitchens of friends and family past and present.

 

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