Van Aken's No Experience Necessary Whets the Appetite With Tales of Kitchens Past

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All photos courtesy Norman Van Aken
Van Aken looks back at the road less traveled in his memoir, No Experience Necessary.
Norman Van Aken may not be a household name like some of his friends, but that's probably the way he wants it. Credited with being one of the founders of New World Cuisine, Van Aken paved the way for his publicly celebrated friends, such as Emeril Lagasse, Anthony Bourdain, and Mario Batali by creating (and making the world take notice of) the culinary revolution taking hold in the U.S. during the 1980s.

Before becoming an internationally renowned chef, he worked as a carny and sold flowers in Hawaii barefoot. He is more public radio than Food Network; more Key West than South Beach. Van Aken may be a chef, but everything he experienced on the path to discovering that calling has made him a storyteller, a skill he displays on his NPR radio show, "A Word on Food" and in his new book, No Experience Necessary: The Culinary Odyssey of Chef Norman Van Aken.

See also: Norman Van Aken on His New Book, Miami's Food Scene, and Hanging Out With Anthony Bourdain

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Ruth Reichl Talks New Novel at Books & Books

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Photo by Cassie Glenn
Ruth Reichl has a résumé any food writer would envy. As a national bestselling author, restaurant critic for both the Los Angeles Times and New York Times, and editor-in-chief of Condé Nast's former Gourmet magazine, she has made her mark in the culinary world. Now, she is dipping her toes in the fiction literary pool, a genre she considers the "most important thing in life."

On Mother's Day, Reichl spoke at Books & Books in Coral Gables about today's food-obsessed generation, the inspiration behind her new novel, and what she has to say to critics.

See also: Former Gourmet Editor-in-Chief, Author Ruth Reichl Dishes on the Art of Recipe Testing at Miami Book Fair

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Kosher Blogger Whitney Fisch and Three Others Release Modern E-Cookbook for Passover

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Photo courtesy of Whitney Fisch
Cashew "cream" tomato soup with sun-dried tomato relish from 4 Bloggers Dish: Passover; Modern Twists on Traditional Flavors.
"Modern" isn't a word typically associated with Passover. For starters, the holiday, which begins April 14 this year, commemorates the Jews' escape from slavery in Egypt thousands of years ago and is rife with age-old traditions. And when it comes to the food served throughout the eight days, many will tell you their families have been eating the exact same stuff since they can remember.

What's more, options are limited by Passover being the holiday of unleavened bread, where the only grain product permitted is matzo (unleavened bread). Though much can be made from matzo's byproducts, such as matzo flour and matzo meal (coarsely ground matzo), it's easy to tire of it all around day three.

See also: Help Zak the Baker Open A Wynwood Bakery and Cafe Through Kickstarter Campaign

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Scott Conant Dishes on Scarpetta's Fifth Anniversary, His New Book, and Miami's Food Scene

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Laine Doss
Scott Conant signs his new book.
Scott Conant has a lot of celebrating to do.

The celebrity chef has just released The Scarpetta Cookbook ($22.71 on Amazon.com), which features 125 recipes from his award-winning Italian restaurant. Scarpetta's Miami outpost is also celebrating its fifth anniversary with a series of special dinners prepared by chef de cuisine Nina Compton -- who happens to be killing it on the current season of Top Chef.

We spoke to the dapper chef over a few glasses of Casa Dragones tequila about his accomplishments, the cookbook, and what's planned for the South Beach Wine & Food Festival.

See also: Best Expensive Italian Restaurant 2013 -- Scarpetta


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Miami Book Fair International Showcased Culinary Ladies

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Laine Doss
Not much of a talker, but a big fan of books.
Long before Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking was published, people were reading and relishing books on culinary skills and the history of food. After all, food is a universal subject and, while we all have different tastes, we cal all agree that the acts of cooking and eating are something all humans have in common.

The 30th anniversary of the Miami Book Fair International highlighted culinary authors this year, with a stellar lineup of talks and demonstrations. Though there was no shortage of men like Norman Van Aken and former White House chef John Moeller, women dominated the discussions and demonstrations, which were held at the Miami Culinary Institute in downtown Miami.

See also: Miami Book Fair International: Meet Your Favorite Cookbook Authors

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Miami Book Fair International: Meet Your Favorite Cookbook Authors

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Courtesy of Normal Van Aken
Chef Norman Van Aken will cook for you at Miami Book Fair International.
The 30th Miami Book Fair International has been going on all week, but the fair really gets heated up today, Friday, November 22, when the fair turns a large part of downtown Miami around Miami Dade College's Wolfson Campus into a bookworm's dream, with hundreds of thousands of books for sale, authors' panels, and autograph opportunities.

The most exciting events for foodies are the cooking demonstrations, held at Miami Culinary Institute's Wine Theatre, where celebrity chefs and cookbook authors such as Ingrid Hoffmann and Norman Van Aken share stories while cooking up a storm.

There's also a schedule of author panels, featuring your favorite food writers and cookbook authors discussing food and culture. Author panels are free with admission to the fair, and no additional tickets are required. The panels are held at Miami Culinary Institute, Building 6, first floor.


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Watch the Making of Daniel Boulud's My French Cuisine

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Hachette Book Group
You, too, can cook like Daniel Boulud (in your dreams).
Daniel Boulud's new opus, My French Cuisine (Amazon.com, $36.75), has been released and its pretty gorgeous.

Celebrating the 20th anniversary of Daniel, the chef's three Michelin-starred Manhattan restaurant, the book is divided into three parts.

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Historic Heston: Jamie DeRosa Recalls Blumenthal as Food Historian

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Screenshot from Historic Heston via YouTube
Historic Heston: The history of British food made beautiful.
Although you might not have eaten at Heston Blumenthal's three Michelin-star rated restaurant, The Fat Duck, which offers a tasting menu for £195 per person, it's pretty much certain you've heard about the chef and the restaurant.

Located in the town of Bray, about a 45-minute train ride from London's Paddington station, The Fat Duck has won nearly every award possible and Blumenthal has been named GQ's chef of the year several times. Other honors bestowed upon Blumenthal include a "Honorary Doctor of Science degree by Reading University for recognition for his unique scientific approach to food and long-standing relationship with the University's School of Food Biosciences" and Order of the British Empire by Her Majesty the Queen, a title of honor bestowed upon some of England's most popular celebrities.


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The Sizzling History of Miami Cuisine: Hot Summer Reading For Foodies

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Amazon.com
Compared to other cities like Boston and New York, Miami is a mere teen. But that doesn't mean we haven't amassed a rich culinary culture that's as sizzling as its sands in July.

Author Mandy Baca explores Miami's food scene, starting with Pre-Columbian south Florida and working up to today in The Sizzling History of Miami Cuisine: Cortaditos, Stone Crabs, & Empanadas, a book that combines Miami food, history, and culture in one tome.

People who grew up in Miami (or vacationed here as kids) will enjoy taking a walk down memory lane with the beginnings of Burger King (starting out as Insta-Burger King) and Royal Castle. Baca, who wrote for Short Order and Broward-Palm Beach sister blog, Clean Plate Charlie in 2011 and 2012, had been researching the book for years. "I've had this project on my mind since about 2007. There were cookbooks and history books, but there were no books that merged both subjects in Miami."

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Tertulia's Seamus Mullen Speaks at Book Fair Sunday: Spanish Fare for Your Health

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Long before he was a competitor in the Food Network's culinary hazing extravaganza The Next Iron Chef, Seamus Mullen, chef and owner of Tertulia in New York City, was one of countless young cooks who bought a one-way ticket to Spain in hopes of landing a job as a free labor stagier in one of the country's top kitchens.

He ended up at Mugaritz, Adoni Luis Aduriz's two Michelin star restaurant near San Sebastian in the Basque region in northern Spain. Fast forward a few years and he returned to New York City and is running Boqueria, a tapas restaurant in Manhattan's Flat Iron District. A favorable review from the New York Times' Frank Bruni "sent the kitchen into a tailspin" more than quadrupling the number of guests each night. After a midnight 911 call, a trip to the hospital and some tests, Mullen was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis, a condition where the body's immune system attacks itself.

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