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My Key West Kitchen: Recipes and Stories Hardcover – November 16, 2012
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“Norman is one of the most gifted chefs I know and a dear friend. It's pretty incredible to get to see Key West through the eyes of Norman and his son Justin. This book gives you a greatunderstanding of the charm, culture and food of Key West that they fell in love with and thankfully share with all of us.”―Emeril Lagasse
“My Key West Kitchen is a wonderful collection of recipes that perfectly demonstrates howone place can influence, create and shape an authentic chef.” ―Marcus Samuelsson
“Simply put, this cookbook makes me want to take a trip to Key West! The Van Akens' inspiring dishes give a true sense of place and their passion about their roots shines through in every chapter.”―John Besh (John Besh, Award-winning chef and author)
"A culinary Valentine to the land of spectacular sunsets, conch fritters, and key lime pie.... The sweet and nostalgic stories behind the recipes make My Key West Kitchen essential reading both in and out of the beach house." (Paula Disbrowe, Hot Off the Skillet Southern Living, November 2012)
I've been to Florida once. The Miami/South Beach scene is quite memorable, but ultimately, it's not really for me. The one part of Florida that does fascinate me (other than the Everglades) is the Florida Keys, in particular Key West. Maybe it has to do with its literary heritage (Papa Hemingway, Tennessee Williams), although it's hard to deny the allure of white sand beaches and a tropical climate. But thanks to Norman Van Aken and Justin Van Aken's My Key West Kitchen: Recipes and Stories (Kyle), I can now add to that list, the island's food.Take a look at a map and you'll see just how close Key West is to its Caribbean and Latin American neighbors. So it's really no surprise, then, that so many of the food and recipes the senior Van Aken writes about reflect the geography. Mollete Sandwiches, Chuletas Empanizadas, and Bahamian Conch Chowder are just a few examples. But perhaps the most endearing aspect of the book are the loving tributes to Key West personalities and locales done in a way that the Van Akens know best--through food. Woven throughout it all is Norman Van Aken's own story of how he became a chef and how the Illinois-native ended up in Florida. The energy and feel to Key West seems unlike any place else; don't be surprised if you have the urge to book a flight down after reading this book. But in case you can't, you'll be glad you have the recipes in hand to enjoy a little taste of the Conch Republic. (Esther Sung, The Best Cookbooks of 2012 epicurious, 12/7/2012)
Few cookbooks have ever done such an enticing job of putting forth the charms of a town as this tribute to the place where Norman began a culinary career built around the fusion of New World flavors he discovered there. Touring Key West by neighborhood, he and his son show off a delightful diversity of flavor: caramelized plantain soup with smoked ham and sour cream; conch and grits with salsa rosa; seared beef salad with soy-lime-chile dressing and soba noodles. Fun! (Kitchen Arts & Letters, 12/11/12)
"My Key West Kitchen" is Van Aken's love letter to Key West, where he first found the passion to cook, and where the unique cultural makeup of the island influenced his cuisine. The colorful stories behind the recipes make "My Key West Kitchen" essential reading both in and out of the kitchen. (Key West Keynoter, 12/27/13)
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Top Customer Reviews
I was fortunate to hear Norman and Justin discuss this book at the Miami International Fair.
Beautifully photographed, each recipe tells a tale. The book is organized by Key West neighborhoods as well as including recipes from Van Aken family creations.
Inside the front and back cover is a map of the island city where major landmarks and attractions are notated.
A recipe index lists the categories: Appetizers & Snacks, Soups & Stews, Sandwiches, Salads & Vegetarian Mains, Meat, Poultry, Seafood, Sides, Desserts, Breakfast & Brunch and Beverages.
The book is an interesting and partially nostalgic look at Key West via food and the Van Aken kitchen, the recipes are some of the basic staples of well known dishes ie conch fritters, Bloody Mary.
Anyway, good effort, Norman although much can be learned from Amanda Hesser on how to do a "storytelling" cookbook correctly.....The Cook and the Gardener : A Year of Recipes and Writings for the French Countryside
So, three stars so far...we'll see after more experimentation if that should move up or down....
While some of the restaurants may not be there any longer, the memories thereof will all come back to you when you read this as you walk Old Town in your mind.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
We have enjoyed the stories, pictures and concepts - now to start actually trying some of the recipes!Published 17 months ago by Marce B.
My husband loves this book. Easy recipes to follow. I would highly recommend it.Published 20 months ago by Linda Gaunaurd
I'm from Key West and this is book is a delightful reminiscence of the food scene in Key West by one of our most famous chefs.Published on January 10, 2014 by Glenn A Sikes
Some very funny stuff and great recipies. I gave this to my son, who enjoys cooking. I recommend this book.Published on December 14, 2013 by Kathleen B. Janecka