As if Florida weren't already warm enough in March, an entire roster of superchefs is again planning to turn up the heat in Miami at this year's third annual South Beach Wine & Food Festival. Highlights of the three-day extravaganza, which runs March 5 through 7, include a Celebrity Chefs and Winemakers Golf Tournament at the Biltmore in Coral Gables; a splashy, beachside Moët & Chandon "Bubble Q"; a Willie Nelson concert; simultaneous Saturday evening dinners at four different venues; an American Airlines live auction featuring wine lots, travel, and more; and the signature Sunday afternoon Grand Tasting. Along the way, there will be lots of other hands-on (and forks-on) seminars, tastings, and tributes.

The stellar chef lineup includes globe-trotting toques such as Alain Ducasse, Todd English, Bobby Flay, Emeril Lagasse, Nobu Matsuhisa, and Claude Troisgros - household names even to people whose idea of fine dining is ordering takeout sushi and watching Iron Chef reruns. And there are many other participating chefs from across the country whose names will also resonate with foodies everywhere. But, since this is a South Beach event, we thought we'd profile three local Miami success stories participating in this year's festival.
Norman Van Aken
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Chef and co-owner
21 Almeria Ave., Coral Gables, Florida, (305) 446-6767

In 1989, in a meeting of the culinary minds, several of the Sunshine State's top chefs got together to discuss what was then loosely being called "new Florida cooking." Norman Van Aken noted that this cuisine had its roots in, and was an extension of, the meeting of cultures brought about by Columbus' discovery of the New World, an event that changed eating patterns and cooking on a global scale. He suggested that the Florida chefs should call their distinctive direction in cooking "New World cuisine." The name stuck.