New World Cuisine

The Extraordinarily Magnificent Life of a Master Chef

No Experience Necessary is Chef Norman Van Aken’s joyride of a memoir. In it, he spans twenty-plus years and nearly as many jobs–including the fateful job advertised in the local paper for a short-order cook: “no experience necessary.”

This book is the story of a young man wandering the country searching for his true purpose in life. It’s also a tell-all travelogue about the wild world of food services, cooking and what it really means to be a “chef.” Though most of the stories alternate between North Shore Chicago and other parts of Illinois to Key West and southern Florida, there are also stops in Hawaii, Kansas, California, Colorado, New York and all the roads a hitchhiker can take in between.

After landing on the shores of Key West, Van Aken faced hurricanes and economic downturns. From a graveyard-shift grunt at an all-night barbecue joint to a James Beard-award finalist for best restaurant in America, Van Aken put his heart, soul and natural talent, and ever-expanding experience into every venture–and helped transform the American culinary landscape along the way.

Long considered a culinary renegade and a pioneering chef, Van Aken is an American original who chopped and charred, sweated and seared his way to cooking stardom with no formal training. He is known as “the founding father of New World Cuisine,” a celebration of Latin, Caribbean, Asian, African and American flavors. He is also known internationally for introducing the concept of “Fusion” to the culinary world.

In the irreverent tradition of Anthony Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential, and populated by a rogues’ gallery of colourful characters–including movie stars, legendary musicians, and culinary giants Julia Child, Emeril Lagasse and Charlie Trotter–No Experience Necessary offers a personal, highly entertaining under-the-tablecloth view of the high stakes world of American cuisine told with wit, insight and great affection by a natural storyteller.

No Experience Necessary: The Culinary Odyssey of Chef Norman Van Aken (Taylor Trade Publishing) is available at or

Norman Van Aken: No Experience Necessary
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