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THE WORLD IS STILL GOING ROUND AT "MUNDO"IN CORAL GABLES. Is Chef Norman Van Aken really trying to simplify the concept at Mundo in the Village of Merrick Park, to a more casual, more Houston-like style?
This is what claimed Chef de Cuisine Gerdy Rodriguez upon being fired by Chef Norman Van Aken. Rodriguez (formerly a sous chef at the famed La Broche), whose departure was followed by that of pastry chef Sergio Navarro (also from la Broche) and three other Spanish-speaking kitchen employees, also alleged that "…They [the partners at Mundo] said that the menu was becoming too Spanish for their taste."
"Not so," says Chef Van Aken, "These are the words of a disgruntled employee. We had to excise the madness of sky high food and culinary labor costs, and the swipe about "too" Spanish is another stab."
Van Aken, a guru of New World Cuisine whose restaurant NORMAN'S in Coral Gables placed Miami on the map of world class gastronomy, says his life's work speaks for itself in regards to his love of Latin/Spanish flavors and for fostering New World Cuisine in all of its forms, languages, dialects, flavors, rhythms, histories and power.
The latest homage to his life's work is an invitation to The James Beard Award Ceremony for the nomination of his fourth cookbook, "New World Kitchen" in the "Cookbook of The Americas" category. "The very theme of the Beard Awards this year is "Latin Flavors" by the way," said Van Aken who was requested to cook for the venerable organization for the occasion.
Van Aken, who has recently opened "Norman's at Sunset" in Los Angeles, California, says that plans for Mundo are for the long haul: "Mundo was born to be like a grand New York/Paris/San Francisco Cafe meant to last and endear itself to a community for the next 20 or more years."
Mundo New World Café is open Monday through Saturday for lunch 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., and dinner 6 to 10:30 p.m.; and Sunday from 1 to 9 p.m. 325 San Lorenzo Avenue, #1325, Coral Gables. 305-442-6787.

RESHUFFLING: BICE HEADQUARTERS MOVE TO MIAMI BEACH, and the Coconut Grove restaurant, actually in the Grand Bay Hotel, is to be relocated to the M Resort Residences, a 25-story condo-hotel under construction in Sunny Isles Beach. Roberto Ruggeri, chairman of Bice Group International Restaurant Chain, who has a Bice in Palm Beach and Coconut Grove, and owns Café Med and Toscana in the Omni Colonnade in Coral Gables, is planning to open a Bice Grand Café at The Falls. The new Bice Group headquarters is at 1501 Collins Ave., South Beach.

Mr. Food no-fuss Meals, a new retail concept in meal preparation by TV food personality Art Ginsburg, has opened in Coral Springs. Customers will assemble their own homemade meals in minutes, from a choice of 12 ready-to-cook dishes serving 4 to 6 people, with ingredients prepared and developed by Mr. Food. Menus will change monthly. Pick up ready meals are available at $25 over the regular price. 991 University Drive, in the Esplanade, across from Coral Square Mall, Coral Springs. 954-755-MEAL (6325)

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