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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