Over the last couple of years Norman Van Aiken — Florida's only celebrity chef and creator of real Florribean cuisine — closed his eponymous restaurants in both Coral Gables and Los Angeles. When he shuttered his place down near Miami in June of last year, he said that he'd be spending time in the Keys on a new place at the Beachside Resort, as well as his joint at the Ritz in Orlando. Looks like he's been booted by the powers that be at Beachside:
Tavern N Town, the restaurant at Key Westâs Beachside Resort & Conference Center, which opened October 2007, has been repositioned, according to Beachside developer Robert Spottswood. The concept has been changed, and James Beard Award winning chef Norman Van Aken is no longer at the helm.
âI have the utmost respect and admiration for Norman; however, his creative vision doesnât coincide with what we feel Beachside Resort needs at this time. Our parting is amicable, and Norman is remaining on as a consulting corporate chef for Spottswood Hotels. In that position, he will be exploring our participation in high end food and wine events and other culinary projects we have slated for the Florida Keys,â Spottswood said.
âWeâve created a simple steak and fish house menu for Beachside that adheres to the high standards of quality that Van Aken instilled in the project. The new menu at Tavern N Town focuses on wood-grilled local fish, prime steaks, poultry and savory daily specials, along with steakhouse-style side dishes and a menu of small plates, served in a beautiful but laid back atmosphere,â according to Spottswood.
Van Aken continues to oversee his acclaimed restaurant, Normanâs at the Ritz-Carlton, Orlando, while also conducting culinary demos and seminars across the country, finalizing his memoir, and launching his own line of signature cookware on QVC.
Both of his cookbooks are out of print and he seems to be on the downward spiral of success, despite his appearance as guest judge on last season's Top Chef. Still, the man's too young to be closing up his life in anticipation of his memoirs, and that QVC deal doesn't sound like it'll be very fulfilling. I've been to Norman's at the Ritz and it was spectacular. We can't lose Norman Van Aiken. Help us Norman, you're Florida's only hope!
Maybe somebody should call him up and introduce him to the fine waterfront restaurant location abandoned by Robert Irvine.