Entrepreneurs, are you Prepared for the Business Dinner? : Under30CEO Entrepreneurs, are you Prepared for the Business Dinner? : Under30CEO
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Entrepreneurs, are you Prepared for the Business Dinner?

| July 31, 2009 | 17 Comments

Austin Photo_FFor the modern start-up entrepreneur, the climate of entertaining perspective clients or associates has changed as much in the past fifteen years as any other aspect of the business world.  Thanks to the Food Network, Americans are more savvy when it comes to dining, our national palate finally coming of age.  These days it is as important to know the difference between crème fraich and cream cheese as it is the difference between B2B and Social Networking.

When that make-or-break meeting is at a high end restaurant it is important to act like you’ve been there before.  What you order can tell a lot about you.  Salads make you come across as passive, fried foods as gluttonous.  Pasta Alfredo dishes make you appear childish.  After all pasta with Alfredo sauce is just a fancy way of saying macaroni and cheese.  If your counterpart is a foodie they know this and may view your choice as immature.  The same for spaghetti and meatballs.  All other past dishes are safe; ironically, that includes actual macaroni and cheese.

But ordering is easy as every foodie respects a nice cut of meat.  Order a steak.  A big NY strip or ribeye is always a safe bet, but beware that you do not order it cooked beyond medium.  In the history of man no one has ever eaten a well-done steak because they think it tastes better than medium-rare.  The only reason to order a steak overdone is because the blood makes you squeamish.  Not a good signal to send.

What if the business dinner isn’t at a swanky bistro but rather at your place?  You need to learn how to cook.  This does not mean that you should chuck your current path and devote six months to cooking classes.  You can easily navigate the culinary labyrinth by employing the same skill that makes all successful people successful: attention to detail.  Watch a little Food Network now and then and don’t be afraid to pick up a spatula.  Mastering five or six easy recipes that have the appearance of complexity is all you need to impress that foodie with the deep pockets.  There is a saying in the restaurant industry, if you have great ingredients you don’t need a great chef.

Here’s a recipe that sounds complicated but is actually quite easy to pull off.

Steak au Poivre with Bleu Cheese Cream Sauce

4 Filets, 6 – 8 ounces each
4 tablespoons course black pepper
4 teaspoons salt
3 tablespoons olive oil, plus more as necessary

Bleu Cheese Cream Sauce

2 cups heavy cream
8 ounces crumbled bleu cheese
4 tablespoons prepared horseradish
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

In a 2-quart saucepan, heat the cream and horseradish slowly over low heat.  Simmer about 15 minutes. Whisk in the bleu cheese and add a pinch of salt and pepper. Set aside but keep warm.

Combine the course black pepper and salt together then pour enough onto a plate to make one layer.  Rub a filet with olive oil and coat with the peppercorn/salt mixture by pressing onto the plate.  Cover all sides of the filet.  Repeat with remaining steaks adding more peppercorn/salt mixture as necessary.  Heat an ovenproof skillet to medium-high and add the three tablespoons olive oil.  Sear the steaks on all sides and place into the oven for 8 – 12 minutes for medium rare.  Serve each filet topped with the cream sauce.

Author Stuart Reb Donald is the author of Amigeauxs Mexican/Creole Fusion Cuisine Cookbook available from 4 Star Publishing and brands himself as the Wannabe TV Chef.

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Category: Startup Advice

  • http://Under30CEO.com Jared O'Toole

    Great article. I agree that what you order can send a message good and bad. Steak is just the best way to go for every occasion.

    Cooking isn't just important to impress that potential client but also for the ladies!

  • http://under30ceo.com MattWilsontv

    We are getting some haters on the choice of meat! I'm quite the carnivore myself, but I think ordering a steak exudes confidence… Obviously be careful not to upset anyone who is into a “cruelty free lifestyle.”

  • dianawright

    And what if you are a vegetarian? What does that say?

  • http://under30ceo.com MattWilsontv

    Consciousness? I wouldn't go into a meeting with a social entrepreneur looking to save the environment and order a blood gushing filet…

  • dianawright

    Say I order my salad…and now I'm known as strictly Ms. Passive. Not fair! ha

  • http://under30ceo.com MattWilsontv

    There isn't anything wrong with being conservative–it's much better than looking glutenous. What does get strange is when you are 20 years old and you are at a but you can't order a drink and act as mature as the people you are doing business with it. It's really awkward especially when the people don't know how old you are. You don't want to get ID'd and turned away, but you don't want to seem immature…

  • stuartrebdonald

    Vegetarianism is a lifestyle choice and says a lot about the person you are. Just be yourself, but be careful not to come across as preachy on the subject. Only pontificate if asked questions and make sure to stay away from purely ideological phrases like “only ethical diet” or “moral lifestyle.” Your guest may not share your belief system and their beliefs are no less important than your own.

  • dianawright

    Couldn't agree more with you on the preachy side of things. Everyone has their lifestyle that caters to them. Live your dream life, right?

  • http://www.twitter.com/johnexley JohnExley

    Cool article and very relevant. Matt – I am in that case right now as I just turned 20 in July. However, I have never drank before and currently it hasn't presented any difficulty nor made me seem immature as far as I can tell.

    Do you foresee this being an obstacle to creating/maintaining business relationships in the future?

  • http://under30ceo.com MattWilsontv

    Ex–definitely not. When you are 21, if you don't want to drink–it's a personal choice. But being restricted NOT to drink by law, is what I'm saying seems unfair, because it makes you seem immature.

    Nothing wrong with ordering a soda my man.

  • http://under30ceo.com MattWilsontv

    I've been in situations where people were like “hey we are all going to the bar, lets talk biz and i had to decide… do i sneak in and take care of business or do I pass on the opportunity”…that's what sucks about not being 21

  • http://www.twitter.com/johnexley JohnExley

    Cool article and very relevant. Matt – I am in that case right now as I just turned 20 in July. However, I have never drank before and currently it hasn't presented any difficulty nor made me seem immature as far as I can tell.

    Do you foresee this being an obstacle to creating/maintaining business relationships in the future?

  • http://under30ceo.com MattWilsontv

    Ex–definitely not. When you are 21, if you don't want to drink–it's a personal choice. But being restricted NOT to drink by law, is what I'm saying seems unfair, because it makes you seem immature.

    Nothing wrong with ordering a soda my man.

  • http://under30ceo.com MattWilsontv

    I've been in situations where people were like “hey we are all going to the bar, lets talk biz and i had to decide… do i sneak in and take care of business or do I pass on the opportunity”…that's what sucks about not being 21

  • http://www.johnexleyonline.com JohnExley

    Cool article and very relevant. Matt – I am in that case right now as I just turned 20 in July. However, I have never drank before and currently it hasn't presented any difficulty nor made me seem immature as far as I can tell.

    Do you foresee this being an obstacle to creating/maintaining business relationships in the future?

  • http://under30ceo.com MattWilsontv

    Ex–definitely not. When you are 21, if you don't want to drink–it's a personal choice. But being restricted NOT to drink by law, is what I'm saying seems unfair, because it makes you seem immature.

    Nothing wrong with ordering a soda my man.

  • http://under30ceo.com MattWilsontv

    I've been in situations where people were like “hey we are all going to the bar, lets talk biz and i had to decide… do i sneak in and take care of business or do I pass on the opportunity”…that's what sucks about not being 21