Aussie lamb has been busy these last few months adding some fling to spring in Miami. In addition to conducting a media blitz, there was a citywide menu contest (see “featured chef” for more on the winner, The Dutch’s Conor Hanlon) and a media and blogger dinner at db Bistro. But that’s not all! We also hosted an invitational seminar for chefs in the Miami area to spend a day with an intimate group of their peers learning about Aussie lamb and getting to work with it in the kitchens at the iconic Eden Roc hotel.
We caught up with one of the participants, Marriott Waterfront Biscayne Bay Executive Chef Joe Natoli, for his take on the event.
AL: What did you take away from the seminar?
JN: It’s always great to get out of your own kitchen and just learn and cook. I don’t often get to practice butchery and breaking down a whole carcass, and it’s always inspiring. I came back to my restaurant, Catch Bar & Grill, and showed my team how easy it is to break down different muscles of the lamb and use cuts like the saddle and shank. There’s so much more than just chops!
AL: You just won the Facebook “Fan Favorite” competition and $500 cash for your Roasted Aussie Lamb Shank dish. What was the inspiration?
JN: For the cookoff during the seminar, my team had the shank in our basket. I love those full-flavored cuts; they’re so versatile. We ran it at the restaurant for about a month, and we’re going to bring it back during “Miami Spice,” our local restaurant week.
AL: What was the key to getting your guests excited about Australian lamb?
JN: At Catch, we focus on storytelling with our front of house staff. Coming out of the seminar, we were able to get them fired up about Australian lamb, the way it was pastured on grass, how it was raised humanely and with care, and of course how we prepared it. When they went out on the floor, they talked up our featured item with real passion; it absolutely helped sales. We find guests love to feel connected to where their food is coming from.