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Chef Aaron Brooks Talks Aussie Lamb, Aussie Roots

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As we wrote last week, Australian lamb has invaded the Magic City. As part of Meat & Livestock Australia's nationwide push of the protein, restaurants around Miami will serve their spin on lamb. Aussie chef Aaron Brooks of Edge Steak & Bar is at the helm of the event.

On May 31, Edge will host Lamb Down Under, a night of unlimited lamb bites, free-flowing Australian wines, and local brew. Joining him will be the restaurant's new pastry chef, Keith Wallace, along with Bradley Kilgore of J&G Grill, Danny Grant of 1826 Restaurant & Lounge, Jacob Anaya of OTC, and Michael Reidt of the upcoming Pilgrim. We spoke with Brooks to get the lowdown on Down Under.

See also: Australian Lamb Dish Competition: Vote For Your Favorite Chef, Win a Stay-cation

New Times: How did you get the idea for Lamb Down Under?

Aaron Brooks: After being approached by the folks at Meat & Livestock Australia to help them get the word out on the quality of Australian lamb, as the Miami "Lambassador," we decided we want to educate not only local chefs on the versatility and benefits of the high-protein, pasture-raised product, but also local consumers and Miami foodies.

We wanted to introduce the Australian lamb in a fun and casual setting, which is why we opted for a reception-style event, where people can come out to Edge terrace and enjoy an assortment of small lamb bites prepared uniquely by each chef. What better way to enjoy lamb than with Australian wine, so we'll be featuring varietals from Yalumba and Jansz Tasmania wineries. At Edge we like to promote local products, so to complement the Australian offerings, we'll also have our mates from Brew FIU presenting their locally crafted beer.

How did the participating chefs get involved?

Miami has embraced me since I arrived here almost three years ago. It's such a great community, and that is what getting these guys together is all about. They are all top blokes and supertalented chefs. I have known some of them since I moved to Miami or met them just recently. There is a connection with all of them in some way or another, but they all have their own distinct style, which will bring great diversity the night of the event.

Tell us about your new pastry chef and how he will contribute.

Keith Wallace joined us recently and has added a true artistic element to Edge. Having worked under the renowned pastry chef Antonio Bachour, Keith creates the most intricate combination of flavors that not only delight the palate but are also beautifully presented. He'll be presenting light and refreshing sweets that will incorporate lamb products such as milk and/or cheese and possibly complementing pastries such as mint macarons.

What kind of "lamb bites" can guests expect?

That's what's so great about lamb. It's so versatile. Each chef is going to present his own rendition of lamb, showcasing the quality flavors of the grass-fed and free-range Australian lamb. It's going to be a true treat to see what they come up with.

What's your favorite lamb dish?

I'm a big fan of chops. It was always a real treat when Dad would bring home a tray of lamb chops and grill them on the barbie. I also love a whole roast lamb. Back home I lived around a big Greek community -- the smell of whole roasted lamb filled the air each and every Sunday. It was awesome! That's what we'll be doing for the event, but with a Miami twist. We'll be cooking a whole lamb in our custom-made caja china, designed exclusively for us by the folks at La Caja China. I can't wait!

What Aussie food would you like to see in Miami?

I'd love to see more of my favorites, some good chops and more roast lamb. I miss the accessibility to good-quality lamb, which now is getting easier with the big push from Meat & Livestock Australia. They're making it simpler for chefs over here to have access to pasture-raised and grass-fed Australian lamb, which is great for me, as I'd love to start grilling more chops on the barbie at Edge and at home for my family.

Like most events at Edge, Brooks expects this one to sell out. Tickets cost $55 per person (plus tax and gratuity) and can be purchased here. For more details, visit edgerestaurantmiami.com.

Connect with Cassie Glenn on Twitter @cassieinmiami.

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