How Aussie Chef Aaron Brooks Brings the Unexpected to His Miami Steakhouse

While EDGE is very much the product of Miami, there’s a distinctly Australian element to his culinary philosophy. “To me, Australian food is really all about embracing the ingredients,” he says. “When I came to the States, it reminded me of what we then called ‘California cuisine’ — it’s all about taking high-quality ingredients and treating them with respect.”

And Australian fare — like that of Miami — is inherently multicultural. A nation of immigrants, Australian cuisine draws influence from all over. “There’s a huge community from Southeast Asia, but it goes well beyond that,” says Brooks. “I lived in a neighborhood in Melbourne for years that was predominantly Lebanese and Turkish — and the food in and around it was phenomenal. You can take those flavors and incorporate them into your food.”

“Australian food is embracing what’s around you. Not only the product but the culture as well.”

On a recent trip back to Australia he found inspiration in the wine scene that has taken off. “What really, really excited me is the way Australia is on the forefront of natural wines,” he says. “I like the direction and opportunity to try new things, in addition to ‘conventional’ wine.”

“There is a real zest for the style in Oz and the folks down there are producing some phenomenal wines from both well-known and more obscure grape varieties.”

His favorite wines of the moment often buck tradition in favor of experimentation. “Lucy Margaux Wines out of South Australia don’t use any sulphur and refrain from intervention,” he says. “A fine line to tread, but they do it well. The Wildman Blanc is an absolute quaffer! Skin contact fermented 100% Savvy Blanc, wild yeasts with racy acidity. I absolutely love the stuff. A tropical drop perfect for Miami’s scorching midday sun.”

Lamb Chops & Sausage, Roasted Carrots, Onions, Coriander and Pepitas Vinaigrette

Photo by Daniel Krieger

You’ll find many such wines in Australia, he believes, “done in a way that’s not overdone. Where you taste the integrity of grape, but also the influence of terroir, and also the influence of the winemaker.”

Brash Higgins, the work of Brad Hickey, a Chicago native making wines in South Australia’s McLaren Vale, is just one example. “He’s almost like me,” laughs Brooks; “I’m an Aussie guy in Miami cooking with American ingredients; he’s an American dude doing great things with wine in South Australia.” Hickey also works with Nero d’Avola, an Italian variety, and ferments it in amphora, “in these big open clay pots,” Brooks says. “In the Australian climate, the wine has a juicy richness to it.”

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