Chef Conor Hanlon of The Dutch Miami recently returned from a trip to Australia, which he earned by winning a menu contest for his Australian Lamb Saddle with Goat Cheese Polenta and Romesco this spring. We caught up with Conor as he was preparing for a series of “Winter Wonderlamb” promotional events in Miami in his new role as an official “lambassador.”
MLA: Now that you’re back, what are some of your takeaways from the trip down under?
Conor: It was a bit of a whirlwind – 11 planes, 22 busses, water ferries, you name it…we covered a LOT of ground, and that was part of the learning. Australia is roughly the size of the US, but with a fraction of the people, so there’s a great deal of prime ranchland and pasture and wide open spaces. It’s perfect for raising lamb and beef in a natural environment, and it was great to get to see that firsthand, and especially to meet the people behind the products.
We visited small and large operations, but despite the high level of sophistication and professionalism, it never felt “corporate.“ These are family farms with multiple generations working the land. And it’s impressive that family farms can deliver the consistency and traceability that they do. It also stood out to me that they considered themselves “grass farmers” – they spend a lot of time and effort making sure that their pasturelands will thrive for generations to come. They know that without the natural grasses, they can’t raise Aussie meats the way they want to.
MLA: Is anything coming to The Dutch menu as a result of your trip?
Conor: I was definitely inspired by the grassfed wagyu I saw (and ate!) in Australia. Seeing them graze on fresh nettles in their natural pasture is something I’ll remember for a long time, and I wanted to showcase that clean, natural flavor. I think everything tastes better on the bone, so we’re getting a 32oz tomahawk Australian ribeye, broiling it up and serving it with a local farm salad and a stack of housemade onion rings. It’s simple, but a dramatic presentation that people order once they see it walk through the dining room to another table.