We met Chef Renee of Blonde on the Run catering during our True Aussie beef & lamb campaign in the Boston area earlier this year, and were struck right away by her fun personality, her talent and passion for great food. We were able to partner up with her for a special event we called the Great Aussie Steak Out in Cambridge last month. Renee’s dish was judged the best by the tasting audience, beating out fellow star chefs from Boloco, Catalyst, Boston Chops, and West Bridge restaurant.
The winning dish was “Herbs-de-Provence-crusted ribeye with housemade Boursin, spicy pickled lemons and arugula oil.” We caught up with Renee to get the secrets of her dish, and her thoughts on Aussie meat.
TA: What was the inspiration for your dish?
Renee: I work part of every year in the South of France, and it’s inspired a lot of my cooking. I wanted to showcase the Aussie grassfed beef, and the preserved lemon, the cheese, arugula oil all have that fresh, simple, Mediterranean appeal to them. The arugula oil adds a splash of color and a little bitterness to balance the dish, and it’s really simple to make.
TA: Did you really make the “Boursin” from scratch?
Renee: Yes! I used a grassfed milk, churned it and made the cheese from the cream. Most people probably wouldn’t go that far, but I loved how those floral, herbal notes came through in both the beef and the cheese. I made an herbs de provence mix to crust the beef overnight, which amplified the effect. The richness of the cheese complements the grassfed beef nicely too, which is naturally quite lean.
TA: What did you like about cooking with Aussie grassfed beef?
Renee: First just looking at it, the color on the ribeye was incredible - deep burgundy, rich, beautiful color. And the flavor of the meat was amazing. My clients are always asking for the best products, and especially with beef that means grassfed and organic. As a chef I don’t have to manipulate it, just let the product shine and the natural flavors come through.
TA: I understand that you use a lot of lamb in your catered events, what’s the key to getting Americans to try lamb, and especially Aussie lamb?
Renee: Catering clients are always looking to impress, and lamb chops especially have this appeal of being special and a luxury. The presentation works really well with chops, too. It looks great on the plate, it’s a manageable size as an appetizer, and comes with a handle (she laughs). When you are working with a great product like Aussie lamb, it’s a really clean, mild, natural flavor. I joke with folks that it’s not 1979 and your grandmother’s overcooked lamb leg with mint jelly! Once I explain that, folks are usually willing to give it a try, and that’s all it takes.