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Norman Van Aken Receives The Torch Award at 2015 Florida Restaurant & Lodging Show

Orlando, FL, November 2, 2015 - Norman Van Aken, Chef and Founder of NORMAN'S at the Ritz-Carlton Orlando, Grande Lakes, has been described as 'legendary, visionary and a trailblazer' as well as 'the culinary Titan of Florida,' which made him the overwhelming choice to be the first Floridian to receive the TORCH Award during the recent Florida Restaurant & Lodging Show.  The award, which recognizes an individual or group of Chefs or Restaurateurs whose achievements have enhanced and brought innovation to the restaurant and foodservice community, was presented by Ferdinand Metz, Certified Master Chef and former President of the Culinary Institute of America for more than 20 years, and Chairman of the Education Program at the Florida Restaurant & Lodging Show.

"Throughout his illustrious career, Norman has illuminated the darkness, which obscured the outstanding contributions of chefs in the kitchens of America. He has marshaled the energy to build a virtual restaurant/media empire as he basically transformed the landscape of the Florida restaurant scene. This chef embodies the joy and the passion of the never ending challenge of seeking out new flavors and creations enthusiastically embraced by all his patrons. He has educated, trained and promoted many of his cooks and co-workers, who have gone on to forge their own successes and careers, and he has given hope by reaching out to the communities around him and given steadfast support to many charitable organizations," said Master Chef Metz during the presentation.

Norman Van Aken is "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.  He is the only Floridian inducted into the prestigious James Beard list of "Who's Who in American Food and Beverage."  He has published five cookbooks, and his radio show, "A Word on Food," appears twice a week on NPR station WLRN.

"The TORCH award honors individuals whose professional accomplishments drive the industry forward and who better to present this honor to than Norman Van Aken."  said Ron Mathews, Vice President for the Urban Expositions Family of Foodservice Events.  "On behalf of Urban Expositions and the Ferdinand Metz Foodservice Forum we were happy to recognize Norman for providing exemplary innovation, initiating improvement and engaging with the industry."  Previous Torch Award recipients have included Susan Feniger and Mary Sue Milliken, co-chefs and owners of Border Grill Restaurants & Truck.

The Florida Restaurant & Lodging Show brought together 450+ vendors and 8,000 restaurant, foodservice and retail professionals to the Orange County Convention Center earlier this month.  Attendees of the Expo had to opportunity to participate in over 30 educational sessions at the Ferdinand Metz Foodservice Forum, the gold standard, industry-leading educational conference dedicated to foodservice professional development. The 2016 Florida Restaurant & Lodging Show will be held September 27-29 at the Orange County Convention Center.  Additional foodservice events, produced by Urban Expositions, include the International Restaurant & Foodservice Show of New York, March 6-8, 2016 at Jacob Javits Convention Center in New York and the Western Foodservice & Hospitality Expo, August 28-30, 2016 at the Los Angeles Convention Center.  For more information, visit or

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