From a young age, Renée Blackman knew she wanted to be a chef. Inspired by her mother and grandmother’s cooking and her passion for food and culture in her native Barbados, Blackman attended an early culinary program where her career was kickstarted. Today, Chef Renée is a renowned private chef and caterer who services a high-end clientele.
We spoke with Chef Renée about her passion for the culinary arts, what inspires her, her biggest accomplishments and her dream dinner guest.
What drove you to the culinary profession?
RENÉE BLACKMAN: Food has always been a passion of mine. I grew up in the kitchen with my mother and my grandmother and watched them prepare all the food that I love. With that being said, my mom used to work two jobs and it was mostly myself and my younger brother together and I would find myself preparing foods and experimenting, and somewhere within that experimentation I found a calling and I began to seek out my culinary affair.
What have been some of your biggest accomplishments?
RB: Thus far, some of my biggest accomplishments have been being a finalist on Food Network’s hit show Chopped. Also, becoming an entrepreneur and working with some of the best NFL players in the league.
Who or what inspires you?
RB: My artwork is constantly inspiring me. I love to use a lot of color when I cook. I must say that traveling also inspires me. I love Paris and Tulum.
What are some trends for summer, or tips you have for people entertaining at home this summer?
RB: Some of the trends this summer involve using fresh ingredients like cherry peppers, fresh herbs like thyme and cotton candy in one’s cocktail. Another trend that I am seeing is adult snacking. Most of my clients are asking for fun foods that remind them of when they were children. I put my twist of luxury into the dish by using truffle oils and gourmet sauces. If you’re entertaining guests at home this summer, set yourself up for success and hire a private chef. Make the investment and have someone there to help you make the night go off without a hitch.
What is your favorite meal to cook?
RB: My favorite meal to cook is by far Beef Wellington
What are some of the more unique recipes you’ve come up with that pair unusual flavors together?
RB: I can’t really say this is unusual, but I have to say that my Hawaiian braised short ribs is somewhat magical. I use the flavors of star anise, pineapple, soy, scotch bonnet and ginger and it really makes for spectacular flavor profile and a memorable dish.
What have been some of your most memorable events that you’ve catered?
RB: My most memorable event that I catered was for Spotify and Goose Island. I curated a three-course menu and they gave me the culinary freedom to showcase my craft.
Who would be your dream dinner guests?
RB: My dream guest would have to be Oprah.
What are some of your goals for the near future for your business?
RB: One of my goals at the forefront at this very moment has to be the start of a new business venture called Bleu Lemonade Parties. Bleu Lemonade Parties is an extension of Chef Renée New York but has been created to showcase my work on a broader scale and to work with brands that are like-minded to bring their event come to life.
What are your favorite restaurants in New York?
RB: My two favorite restaurants in New York City are Catch and Sweet Chick.
Photography by: Nick Finochio