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The Home Plate - Life and Lamb

Meet the Chef: Miles Vaden

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Miles VadenIn this month’s edition of the Home Plate, we talk to Executive Chef Miles Vaden of DC Coast. Miles recently took home first prize in a menu contest during DC restaurant week for his Braised Lamb Schwarma with Black Tahini, Pomegranate Tzatziki, Mint Chermoula, and Pickled Beets on Grilled Lavash. Chef Miles will now go to the Aspen Food & Wine Festival as Aussie Lamb’s honoured chef!

We asked the Chef about the inspiration for the dish, and he told us he was looking to create something with lamb for the lunch menu, and knew he wanted to use the shank. “Especially when the weather’s cold, a slow-cooked, braised meat is hard to beat.” said Miles. As he is often found on his days off in one of the many excellent authentic Eastern Mediterranean restaurants the DC-area is blessed with, schwarma was a natural choice. Chef Miles’ dish takes all of the traditional elements of a classic schwarma and gives them his own creative and often colourful touch. Thus tahini became a housemade black sesame tahini, tzatziki got a lift of color and flavour pop from pomegranate seeds, fresh herb notes come from a mint chermoula, and pickled beets add acidity and vibrant color. “I love colors on the plate, and as a chef I try to match the color with a flavorful purpose,” explains Chef Miles. “The pomegranate seeds and pickled beets both do that, and they keep the dish from getting one-dimensional. Every bite will be a little different than the last.” All of those elements work to complement the main attraction, which is of course the braised Aussie lamb shanks, which bring plenty of flavour of their own to the plate.

When we asked Chef what he liked best about working with Australian Lamb, he said “The flavor first of all is so mild, sweet and clean; it’s not at all the gamey, heavy flavor that a lot of Americans might remember from their childhood. When I learned that Aussie lamb is so well raised and taken care of – grass-fed, hormone-free and humanely treated – it was an even better match for what I want to serve my guests.”

If you live in or visit the DC area, the Braised Aussie Lamb Shank Schwarma is now a regular menu item at DC Coast, along with a more substantial Aussie lamb shank dish on the dinner menu. Tell them the Aussies sent you!

Featured Chef: Brad Farmerie, PUBLIC and Saxon + Parole, New York City

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The son of an avid home cook, Pittsburgh native Brad Farmerie grew up with homegrown vegetables and fresh-baked bread (mom’s insistence) on his plate. The influence of his Lebanese grandparents made lamb the weekly meat of choice, and by the time Brad enrolled at Penn State (intended major: mechanical engineering) he had a variety of cuisines on his radar.

Cooking was the tuition-paying gig, but it didn’t take long for Brad’s focus to shift from mechanics to mise en place. After a brief hiatus spent exploring the food and wines of Europe, North Africa, the Middle East, Southeast Asia and the Antipodes, his interest in food took him to the UK, where he earned a Grande Diplome at Le Cordon Bleu in 1996.

After rounding out his education and technique at top English restaurants Coast, Chez Nico and Le Manoir Aux Quat' Saisons, Farmerie worked at London's Sugar Club, where he found a mentor in renowned New Zealand Chef Peter Gordon. He went on to assist Gordon and fellow New Zealand Chef Anna Hansen with the opening of The Providores and Tapa Room in 2001.

In 2003, Brad returned stateside to help Gordon and Hansen conceive PUBLIC, the first self-propelled restaurant by the design and concept firm AvroKO. "The dining room menu swings for the fences with each and every dish," said The New York Times that same year, of the restaurant's eclectic, globally influenced offerings. Then and now, the menu presents many of the rare-for-the-U.S. Australian and New Zealand ingredients that caught Chef Brad’s eye, particularly while he was living in the UK and on his travels.

Ten years, five consecutive Michelin stars and several successful AvroKO ventures later (including the 2011 launch of PUBLIC’s sister restaurant Saxon + Parole), Farmerie’s first U.S. venture is still going strong. Chef Brad is proud of what he sees as PUBLIC’s ability to stick to its original intent: "to give people something unexpected, something to talk about and make them think."

While many of the conversation pieces have changed over the last decade, this 2005 StarChefs Rising Chef remains grounded in his cooking philosophy and aim: staying true to his ingredients and celebrating his product, while challenging diners to incorporate new and exciting flavors and ingredients into their culinary vocabulary. Brad acknowledges that the latter part of this can be a challenge for him, too. "If you're going to make them try it, it better be good!"

Among a handful of proteins that have stayed on PUBLIC’s menu since opening, Chef Brad considers Australian Lamb to be one of his most successful offerings. There’s a good chance his latest dish, Australian Lamb Loin with Black Baba Ghanoush, Za’atar Roasted Cippolini Onion, Goat’s Milk Feta and Pistachio Vinaigrette, will be making an appearance in Meat & Livestock Australia and Star Chefs’ Australian Lamb Easter promotion in New York City later this month.

Chef Brad Farmerie

Meat & Livestock Australia and Starchefs.com Australian Lamb Easter Contest

In partnership with StarChefs.com, Meat & Livestock Australia is conducting an Aussie Lamb Spring Fling promotion in New York City, March 18–31. Conceived to raise the awareness of Australian lamb and to demonstrate that lamb can be a great center-of-the-plate option, the competition will also highlight Australia’s clean and green image, high food safety and pasture-raised lamb products. 

Showcasing their Aussie Lamb Spring Fling dish in their restaurants, ten StarChefs.com past rising Star Chefs (below) will compete to win the Past Rising Star Chefs Grand Prize: two round-trip tickets to Sydney, with accommodation and a restaurant voucher (worth $300) to one of the city’s top restaurants. Participating consumers can enter to win the Diner's Choice Prize by voting for their favorite Past Rising Star Chef's lamb dish on the Australian Lamb Facebook page. Voting diners will be entered into a drawing for a chance at a dinner for ten at the winning restaurant, as well as two tickets to the Rising Star Chefs Gala in New York City on April 11, 2013. 

To promote the contest, StarChefs.com will film the ten past rising Star Chefs for a NYC Yellow taxi TV advertising campaign, spotlighting each participant's Australian Lamb dish. All of the contest action will also be covered by Australian Lamb on Facebook, Twitter and on the web. 

Past Rising StarChefs.com Aussie Lamb Spring Fling Contest Participants

  • Hooni Kim – Hanjan/Danji (Flatiron/Mid-town West) 
  • Brad Farmerie – PUBLIC/Saxon and Parole (NoHo) 
  • Vikas Khanna – Junoon (Flatiron) 
  • Hilary Sterling – The Beatrice Inn (Greenwich Village) 
  • Jesse Schenker – Recette (West Village) 
  • John Fraser – Dovetail (Upper West) 
  • Markus Glocker – Gordon Ramsay at the London (Theatre District) 
  • Jason Hall – Crown (Upper East) 
  • Joe Isidori – Arthur on Smith (Brooklyn) 
  • Chris Santos – The Stanton Social (Lower East Side)


Sweet and Spicy

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Let your taste buds fall in love this Valentine's Day with a delicious lamb dinner. Our sweet and spicy recipes will have you cancelling those dinner reservations, and instead whipping up a home-cooked meal for two.

For a sweet treat, try this recipe for baked Australian lamb racks with honey. It's a true crowd-pleaser, and pairs well with many sides.

Feeling more spicy? Our lamb cooked with chipotle and spices will definitely heat things up.

Satisfy both cravings with this recipe for sweet and spicy Australian lamb leg. Either way you can't go wrong with all natural, pasture-fed Aussie lamb.

Find these and other great recipes in our gallery.