STK has finally replaced Ralph Pagano (who left the top toque position in October to take over at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale) with new executive chef Aaron Taylor. He's worked at Pierre's restaurant in Islamorada, and the Keystone Ranch in Colorado, but most recently honed his steak skills in the kitchen at Meat Market. Taylor heard through the grapevine that the job was opening, and One
Group contacted him to see if he would be interested in taking over at
STK. The rest is restaurant roulette history.
We wondered how different the steak technique could possibly be between the two restaurants, and whether Sean Brasel gave Taylor the finger, or a hug, upon his departure for a SoBe steakhouse competitor. Is there kitchen rivalry? Keep reading.
New Times: Was the audition tough?
Aaron Taylor: No, the audition was not tough, but when you are doing a tasting in
a kitchen and you don't know where anything is, it can be really stressful.
What exactly did you prepare for the management/owners?
did two tastings, one here in Miami and one in New York. I made a
stone crab and avocado salad with spicy yellow watermelon puree, seared sea scallop with sunchokes, maitake mushrooms with foie gras soup, and a rack
of lamb with an olive tapenade, feta morney sauce and basil oil.
How does the philosophy on cooking steak differ from Meat Market to STK?
At Meat Market we prepared the steak in three different ways: wood grilled, broiled and pan roasted. Here at STK, all the steaks are
charbroiled. The main similarity is that I am buying a very high
quality product, seasoning it properly, and cooking it to the proper
How do you plan on putting your personal stamp on the menu? Can you give us a preview of what will be changing?
Simple flavors with artistic plating. I will be adding new appetizers like a cobia crudo, the lamb chops and seared sea scallops to the menu.
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Did Sean Brasel give you the finger or a hug when you left Meat Market for a competitor?
We left with a hug! He was my boss for four years and we are also good friends.