Chef Norman Van Gelder
brings to his work a level of compassion and creativity not often found in the Culinary Arts. For him, being a chef is a personal journey, one of discovery, service, and commitment.
Throughout his varied career, Norman has taken time to pursue his non-profit endeavors, honoring his belief in giving back to communities less fortunate. To this end, he has worked tirelessly in the following endeavors: feeding the homeless on the streets of Los Angeles and the boardwalk of Venice Beach, working with an orphanage in Rishikesh and Goa, India, to provide better conditions for disadvantaged children, and spending a significant amount of time in Cambodia creating the 501(c)3 non-profit organization, The New Skills Foundation, created to assist homeless women and children struggling with HIV/AIDS, and drug addiction.
Chef Van Gelder
believes that his experience in service in various parts of the world has opened him up to innovative ideas in the creation of delectable menus based on the cuisines of the countries in which he has temporarily resided.
His one-on-one work with ordinary people and exposure to the day-to-day foods in each location he's visited have granted him a unique perspective on the blending of ingredients, and the strengthening of recipes based on his vast knowledge of intricate flavors, and local resources..
Throughout his career, he has continued to experiment, develop and allow his service to others to inform the menus that he implements. His openness to people in all cultures, walks of life, and foods of all kinds and types make him a world-class culinary connoisseur!
"As he continues his journey, his greatest desire is to assist people in living a balanced, healthy, nutritious life, filled with boundless opportunity!"
Norman brings a lot. He began his career in the hospitality industry in 1993. His individualistic background includes seven years emphasizing Health Sciences, culinary school training, and working as a chef for several years under top culinary experts such Claude LeCourt of Maxim’s, Paris.
His encyclopedic knowledge of food safety has been accessed as a source by the District Attorney in wrongful death investigations.
Norman was the Director of Food and Beverage for Dreamworks SKG and Executive Chef for Amblin Entertainment (Steven Spielberg and top executives), as well as the catering chef for movies such as Shrek!, El Dorado, Prince of Egypt, and other independent films.
He oversaw the mobile catering for Paloma Productions, the top Latin production company in Hollywood, the Hollywood Screenwriters’ Guild, and celebrities including Leslie Ann Warren, George Clooney and Salma Hayek.
Norman also has trained with top environmental health sanitarians
Norman owned & was head chef for four of his own restaurants -
Café Calao in Hollywood, CA (Caribbean cuisine), La Parrillada, Argentine Restaurant in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Cafe Del Amo in Torrance, CA (International Cuisine and Catering), and Baja Bombay Indian Fusion Restaurant in Rosarito, Baja California, Mexico.
In His Own Words...
"The true journey I'm currently embarked upon actually began in June 2007 on Skid Row, downtown Los Angeles and Venice Beach, CA, making meals for the homeless. I've observed that at my worst times - times when I've needed a different perspective, and needed to get out of my own head and ways of looking at things - after such selfless acts of kindness, I'd forget my worries and tribulations. I would feel a sense of awe, and true happiness in my heart. An authentic passion and new purpose in my life would blossom.
As a recovered alcoholic for 31 years, I discovered that the true nature of sobriety, wellness and conscious awareness comes from proper nutrition, exercising, prayer/meditation, true intentions and most of all, LOVE.
To give back, and treat everything and everyone with LOVE,
including my most undesired situations. I channel this LOVE many different ways, particularly through food, and my heartfelt passion as an Executive Chef. With my palette of ingredients and tools I am a true artist in the kitchen emphasizing nutritional, organic, healthy foods.
"In my many travels I've studied and learned about AYURVEDA, a traditional system of alternative natural and organic medicine based on herbal compounds, minerals and oils with historical roots in the Indian subcontinent."
This Ayurvedic knowledge-base I employ in many of my food preparations, especially with Indian fusion; I love to create wellness through food. Foods that are rich in flavor as well as organic products that benefit our body and soul. Some of these are called Garam Masala, which means herbs that create heat within your body, healing heat with profound benefits.
When I create foods from a place of such passion and love, I see joy in peoples' faces that connects me with them. The link between great food made with such love and the people who consume it is both superb and fulfilling. That affect on people that enjoy my food is what enthuses me to be the best at what I do, and drives me to constantly create meals of wellness and health, and continually sharpen my skills for those who share my cuisine.
Currently I visit third world countries such as India, Mexico, Cambodia and Sierra Leone, West Africa helping the homeless, the hungry, and many orphans by sharing my love through proper culinary education, and teaching new skills, nutrition, and food safety.
For example, a current project I'm involved with in Sierra Leone is developing a new, self-sustaining restaurant where I will be teaching orphans how to operate a restaurant, including proper cooking techniques, menu creation, finances, operations, personal hygiene, and most of all, how to grow their own herbs and vegetables and create a farm-to-table system, with all profits returning to the orphanage, ideally ultimately financing the orphans' education."