PAMM is gearing up for its fifth annual Art of the Party on March 9, 2019, the museum’s largest fundraiser event of the year presented by Valentino. This year, PAMM has the privilege of honoring artist Christo, whose work spans over a monumental six decades, alongside Miami philanthropists Dorothy and Aaron Podhurst. The Magic City’s art patrons, cultural ambassadors, philanthropic leaders, and social tastemakers will gather at the highly anticipated event to show their commitment to the museum’s robust education program, the largest behind the Miami-Dade County Public Schools system.
But when it came to choosing this year’s featured chef to collaborate for the evening’s culinary creations, iconic Chef Norman Van Aken and Constellation Culinary Group was easy as pie (pun intended).
Van Aken is a Miami-based, James Beard Foundation Award-winning chef, who has brought Florida great restaurants such as Orlando’s Norman’s and Wynwood’s Three. He will soon bring his concept K’West to the new Time Out Market Miami on South Beach. Foodies, no need to fret. There’s still time to purchase your tickets to Art of the Party here.
Check out our interview with Chef Van Aken below.
PAMM: What defines Miami cuisine?
Van Aken: For me, it is first and foremost the combination of the people who have come to call Miami home and also the foods that are native to our state. We live in one of the richest areas in terms of powerful memory makers in the world. To be a chef here is an open door to being creative while also “representing” our cultures.
How do your roots and background influence your food?
My roots began in the Midwest (Illinois). We lived on the edge of farm country. My mother was into gardening and also taught Girl Scouts. That meant a lot of projects that helped mentoring them in skills, including cooking. We made jams, put up tomatoes, shelled peas, shucked corn, and more as young kids with her. She was also in the restaurant business. First as a waitress and later as a manager, so I picked up a bit of that as a child. But it was me moving to Key West that really formed the true character of my cuisine. Working and eating in the humble establishments of that time was crucial to my love of the food I have come to call, “New World Cuisine.”
What is the one ingredient you cannot live without?
It is a mindset more than an ingredient that I cannot live without. And in Zen that is often called, “Beginner’s Mind.” I would also refer to it as a driven kind of curiosity that makes me feel most alive.
What is the most important lesson you’ve learned as a chef?
To build a team and to include them in the pursuit of knowledge. You can learn from anyone—so listen and watch every day.
How did you create the menu for the evening?
I wanted to present the dishes that show my forty years of love for South Florida…and then I worked with the extraordinary team at Constellation Culinary Group to bring it to life.