Cooking with Chef Norman — Team Building Activity

If you’re looking for a red-hot culinary event for your team, then stew on hosting one of these fabulous programs hosted by Chef Norman Van Aken. Norman Van Aken’s accomplishments include:

  • Being the founding father of New World Cuisine
  • Introducing “Fusion” into the lexicon of modern cookery
  • Writing a memoir, No Experience Necessary, that has been hailed by Tony Bourdain, Thomas Keller, Emeril Lagasse, Mario Batali and many more
  • A multiple James Beard Award recipient and the only Floridian inducted into the James Beard Who’s Who of Food and Beverage in America
  • Honored as one of the Founders of the New American Cuisine alongside Alice Waters, Paul Prudhomme and Mark Miller
  • Author of five cookbooks including My Key West Kitchen, written with his son Justin
  • Hosting an NPR radio show A Word on Food on WLRN
  • Founder of NORMAN’S at the Ritz Carlton Grande Lakes Orlando
  • Co-founder of both the VRZ Hospitality Group and Costa Rican Chef Retreats at Doce Lunas Resort

Option #1 - No Experience Necessary

As the name of this program suggests, Chef Norman will conduct a hands-on session perfect for all participants, whether they are foodies or this is the first time they’ve boiled water!

As guests enter, they’ll receive neckerchiefs to help them find their team’s “mise en place” set up with all they’ll need to start cooking with their fellow teammates. hen, it’s time for Chef Norman to warm up the group with some stories from his fascinating background before launching into a 1-hour cooking class. During the class, he walks teams through the steps they should be taking to dish out something as delectable as the ones he is creating on stage. As your participants don’t have Chef Norman’s years of experience, teamwork will be the secret ingredient teams need to whip up their culinary creation!

Chef Norman will work with you and your event venue to determine what’s on the menu. Sample themes include:

  • Caesar creations
  • Ceviches
  • Flat breads
  • Grilled cheese ways
  • Meat rubs
  • Raw bar sauces
  • Steak sauces
  • Mortar & pestle moments
  • Chocolate sauces
  • Stuffed crepes

Timing is everything in cooking, and in this event! At a set time, recipes must be complete both for guests to sample and for judging. Chef Norman, a group of corporate VIPs, or a blend of the two can lead the judging.

Once the voting is complete, it’s time to learn which team whipped the competition! The team earning the most votes is toasted as they come forward to accept their award medals.

Option #2 – No Cooking Necessary

In this program, guests are regaled by Chef Norman’s stories and get to poach his cooking tips, but they don’t have to do any of the cooking!

Chef Norman will work with you and your event venue prior to the program to determine what’s on the menu. During the event, your guests look on as Chef Norman prepares the chosen selections. Chef explains what he’s doing while sharing interesting stories about food, cooking, and the restaurant business and it’s evolution over the years. When he’s done, your guests' mouths will be watering, which is good because it’s now time for the hotel’s wait staff to serve up Chef Norman’s recipe, as prepared from their kitchen!

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