The life of a hotel executive chef like Aaron Brooks, even at a luxury brand like Four Seasons, has its challenges. For one thing, you will likely move from city to city several times as your career develops. Chef Aaron is now at Four Seasons Miami and its EDGE Steak & Bar, but also spent time at the brand’s properties in Vancouver and Boston. As an expat and gregarious Aussie, he’s well suited to the challenge of getting to know his local culinary colleagues and community. He recently served as “Lambassador” for Australian Lamb, and helped bring together a group of top-flight local chefs to learn about and cook with Aussie lamb at the nearby Eden Roc hotel. “It was a great experience – I always love getting to know my local colleagues, and building and fostering those relationships. As a chef, you’ve got to be part of the local community if you’re going to make it.”
Beyond getting to know his fellow chefs, even the native Aussie learned a thing or two about lamb. “I’ve traveled all over and used Aussie lamb for years, but never really knew what goes into it, the respect for the animals and how they’re raised and pastured.” He says. “We see it in the consistency and quality in what we get here, but it was inspiring to see and hear the story behind it.” The chefs were inspired to team up to put together a “Lamb Down Under” event on the rooftop at EDGE this summer, featuring a casual, walk-around outdoor setting and the chance to taste lamb-tastic creations from several top Miami chefs.
And it’s not just chefs who are fired up about lamb. Chef Brooks notes that his guests have responded really well to the lamb he puts on the menu. He’s currently running “Fire Roasted Aussie Lamb Chops, Crisp Belly Glazed with Black Pepper Tupelo Honey, Five Grain Salad, Greek Yogurt” with great results. There are a few strategies that work best for getting guests to order less familiar proteins like lamb, according to Chef: “Pairing it with a sexy item like a grain salad never hurts. Or putting lamb with housemade pastas, risottos, or (here in Miami) empanadas instantly makes it familiar and comfortable, and an easy order.”
For foodservice operators, using more than just chops is part of the recipe for success. At Chef Aaron’s steakhouse concept EDGE, he likes to do duos or trios, using less expensive cuts of meat alongside familiar favorites. “It not only helps your food cost, but allows you to create a more unique and signature dish, with more creativity.”