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Miami Culinary Institute’s Chef Norman Van Aken Makes History with International Gastronomy Award

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Miami, September 27, 2013 - Miami Dade College’s (MDC) Miami Culinary Institute’s (MCI) Director of Restaurants, the renowned Chef Norman Van Aken, has been awarded a prestigious Grand Prix Gastronomic Culture Prize, beating out candidates across the globe. This is the first time the International Academy of Gastronomy – founded 30 years ago – awards the prize to an American.    

The Academy is composed of members representing several countries, including France, Greece, Mexico, Peru, Spain, Italy, Lebanon, and Brazil, among others. The Grand Prix award is presented to a region or town deemed a “Sanctuary of Gastronomy,” or a personality/institution that has achieved “distinction in the field of gastronomic culture.”   

"I am very proud that my work has been recognized now internationally through this amazing award for embracing a region of the world blessed with immense beauty, as well as one so provident in natural resources. I am equally inspired by the polyglot immigrant culture that makes Florida the most exciting state I could imagine cooking in and calling home," Chef Van Aken said.

Chef Van Aken, who oversees MCI’s renowned restaurant, Tuyo, is recognized far and wide as "the founding father of New World Cuisine" for his unique dishes combining Latin, Caribbean, Asian, African, and American flavors. He is also regarded for introducing the concept of “fusion” to the culinary world, and is the only Floridian to be inducted into the prestigious James Beard Foundation’s Who’s Who of Food and Beverage in America. He is also a member of the Foundation’s National Advisory Board. In addition, Chef Van Aken is the author of five cookbooks, a memoir that will be released this fall and currently has a weekly radio show on WLRN 91.3 FM called “A Word on Food” (  

The MCI has a solid seed-to-soil philosophy incorporated in the training, which serves as an important learning ingredient for students while honing their professional culinary skills. This fosters eco-sustainable learning, ultimately benefiting our planet and the people on it. The Institute’s eight-story building is an architectural and engineering marvel focusing on exceptional space utilization, generating a limited carbon footprint and is currently tracking Gold LEED Certification. The building features multipurpose organic kitchen and baking labs, a food and beverage theater with global connectivity capabilities through the latest A/V technology, a student-run café and bakery, and Tuyo on the top floor with panoramic views of the city. 

Media-only contacts:
Juan Mendieta, 305-237-7611,, MDC communications director
Tere Estorino Florin, 305-237-3949,, MDC media relations director
Sue Arrowsmith, 305-237-3710,, media specialist
Kai Hill, 305-237-3359,, media specialist
Roxana Romero, 305-237-3366,, media specialist
Alejandro Rios, 305-237-7482,

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