Edge Steak & Bar's Aaron Brooks has lots to celebrate this week. For starters, he's running his second Miami Marathon this Sunday, which is kind of perfect considering the Aussie chef (and Miami's official "lambassador") will honor Australia Day this Monday by cooking (and eating) lamb the entire week. Stop by anytime tomorrow through January 31, when Brooks will pay homage to the land down under with weeklong Aussie specials.
And that's not all. If you're also running the Miami Marathon, you'll want to have brunch afterward. Take your runner's bib to Edge and receive 10 percent off the restaurant's famous spread of limitless oysters, stone crabs, overnight roasted pig, booze, and a special Australia Day brunch special.
We talked to the chef about his newfound fit lifestyle and why Australian day is so important for him.
Brooks was one of the participating chefs in Fit to Fight, a three-month weight-loss challenge that benefited charity. The chef lost more than 20 pounds and gained a whole new perspective on healthy living. "I actually did the half when I moved here in 2012 and then embraced all things bad for you but that are superdelicious and tasty," he confesses. "I was working way too much and not looking out for my body." Fit to Fight, he says, is what kicked his ass into getting his life back in order.
Needing something to motivate him after the competition, Brooks signed up to run the Miami Marathon. Of course, he still keeps up a regular workout schedule, and eating healthy, he says, is most important. "I cut out a lot of sugars -- not carbohydrates entirely, but making sure I was eating the right carbohydrates." The chef admits to having a sweet tooth. "You can ask our pastry chef, Keith; he'd always catch me in the bake shop around 3 o'clock and then again at 5 p.m. or so."
It wasn't until his trainer made him write down every single thing he ate for three days that Brooks realized all the junk he was putting in his body. "The trick is to get your sugar from natural sources. I'm not going to lie -- the holiday season was tough. I definitely fell off the wagon a couple of times." But sweets aren't his Achilles heel. "That would be pizza. I love a good pizza. Like love. Love, love love."
He's actually thinking of having his celebratory post-marathon brunch at Proof Pizza & Pasta. "I've been meaning to check those guys out, so it's the perfect excuse." His current favorite place: "I love what Stanzione does."
To combat his adoration for pizza, Brooks works out five, sometimes six, days a week. "Everything from spinning classes to boot camp." He also eats healthy, of course. "The thing I took for granted when I wasn't doing so awesome is that I work in a restaurant and have all these good things at my disposal. I was choosing the wrong stuff." His go-to healthy meal? "It's breakfast. Three poached eggs and half an avocado. For lunch we have this chop-chop salad that I really love."
His best-kept secret, however, is that he eats lots of lamb. "You know how I feel about lamb." We sure do, and to celebrate his love for it and his home country, the chef will cook a bevvy of Australian dishes.
From January 23 to 26, Edge will offer a three-course dinner priced at $59 per person that includes shrimp off the barbie (local pink shrimp, marinated baby tomatoes, avocado, and chilies), Aussie lamb leg (slow-cooked with green olives and preserved lemon, creamy polenta, and a salad of heirloom radishes and rocket), and pavlova (crunchy meringue, local tropical fruits, and whipped coconut cream). "Pavlova is one of my favorite things on this planet. My mom used to always make it, and I told our pastry chef Keith I had to taste every single version to make sure it was up to par."
The Australia Day brunch special (available this Sunday, January 25) is a rotisserie of Australian lamb marinated with preserved lemon and spices and served with roasted sesame yogurt and raisin chimichurri.
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If you can't make it to dinner or brunch, or burgers are more your thing, head to Edge for lunch beginning Monday, January 26 (actual Australia Day), through Friday, January 31. "We'll be doing an Aussie lamb burger as part of our three-course lunch-break menu." The lunch-break menu is quite the deal: three courses for $23, and it changes every week. The Aussie lamb burger features whipped feta, marinated cucumbers, and roasted pepper dip on a whole-wheat bun.
In the words of Brooks himself: "Happy Australia Day, mate."
Follow Carla on Twitter @ohcarlucha