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WYNWOOD (CBSMiami) — Watching legendary Florida chef Norman Van Aken at work in the kitchen in his newest restaurant in Wynwood called “Three” is like watching an artist painting a new canvas. His Oyster Pan Stew made with sherry cream and oyster mushrooms, topped with marigold flowers is a thing of beauty.

“That is special. I would say, it’s rich but not heavy, and then the oyster slides down easily,” CBS4’s Lisa Petrillo gladly explained after tasting it.

“Well, you’ve got the salinity the seafood brings through that cream,” explained Chef Norman.

The James Beard Award winning chef has been cooking in South Florida since the 70’s.

In 1995, he opened his namesake iconic Coral Gables restaurant Norman’s, putting this chef at the top of the food chain!

“Lisa, in our first year, we were nominated as best new restaurant in the U.S. by The James Beard Foundation and in our first year of eligibility we were nominated as best restaurant in the U.S. with only 4 other restaurants. No other restaurant in Florida has ever had that,” he proudly stated.

“Three” has an impressive center stage, a 10-seat chef’s counter that is perfect for guests who want to interact with the kitchen. The design is rich and elegant with a mascot portrait of Frieda Kahlo front and center.

And the name?

“There are 3 endeavors here. There is the restaurant “Three,” there is “No. 3 Social Lounge” upstairs that cranks with all kind of music and all kinds of fun, and then next door we have “In the Kitchen,” the Norman Van Aken Cooking School,” Chef said.

Dishes prepared at Three, Chef Norman van Aken’s restaurant in Wynwood. (CBS4)

The food is classic Norman Van Aken New World Cuisine.

“As a young cook coming up, I was just tasting things and going, I wanted to learn how to make that and then melding them and fusing them together because no grandmother was telling me that’s not Cuban or Nicaraguan. It’s Pan American, it’s all over,” he said.

The food is served in three course-dining options priced at $65 person with plates like Molasses Marinated and Grilled Duck Breast with fire-roasted onions, braised turnips and date jus.

“What I try to do with food is to keep it interesting with every bite.  So I call it the Ferris wheel of flavors. So you taste it, but then you’ll taste this and this and then texturally too. I want them to continue to have them taste the variations and textures,” Chef said.

The Heirloom Tomato Salad has local vegetables and greens and is topped with a buttermilk dressing.

“There’s a certain elegance to the salad and all the dishes,” said Petrillo.

“Elegance is a word I like, not fussy, but elegant is nice,” laughed Chef Norman.

“Three” in Wynwood is progressive, yet classic. It’s fine dining and fun. It is open 6 nights a week for dinner and Sunday Brunch.

Click here for more information.

Lisa Petrillo

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