No Experience Necessary is Chef Norman Van Aken's joyride of a memoir. In it he spans twenty-plus years and nearly as many jobs - including the fateful job advertisement in the local paper for a short-order cook with "no experience necessary."
Long considered a culinary renegade and a pioneering chef, Van Aken is an American original who chopped and charred, sweated and seared his way to cooking stardom with no formal training, but with extra helpings of energy, creativity, and faith. After landing on the deceptively breezy shores of Key West, Van Aken faced hurricanes, economic downturns, and mercurial moneymen during the decades when a restaurant could open and close faster than you can type haute cuisine. From a graveyard shift grunt at an all-night barbeque joint to a James Beard-award finalist for best restaurant in America, Van Aken put his trusting heart, poetic soul, natural talent, and ever-expanding experience into every venture - and helped transform the American culinary landscape along the way.
©2013 Taylor Trade Publishing (P)2013 Recorded Books
I'm so glad the audio publisher let Norman narrate his book. It was like listening to an old friend tell a great story.
This book took me back to the early days (late70s, 80's and early 90s) when the American food explosion was so much fun to be part of (and I was) and chefs didn't care about their TV ratings (there was no Food Network yet), but about creating truly great food. There are recipes at the end of each chapter. My favorite is "Latkes with Sour Cream and Caviar" at the end of Chapter 19.
Norman is also a terrific writer ...reminded me a little of Hemingway's prose.. and that's good, since a lot of the book takes place in Key West, a Hemingway hangout. I loved this book. Go buy it. Go listen.
Reminds me a bit of myself, just not with all of the mind numbing success. A great read. And just lends credence to the fact that, anyone that's creative and is strong willed can do it, and have outrageous success.
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