Chef’s Roll has been working with True Aussie Beef & Lamb since 2015 – and we have seen and tasted, firsthand, the incredible product Australia produces — from grassfed beef to pasture-raised lamb. We’ve worked with hundreds of chefs who have also praised the product and added it to their menus.
One chef who did this was Will Staten, owner of the Las Vegas-based “Ragin Cajun Cookin”. He hung out with us at our recent “In The Kitchen” event and we talked about the Vegas restaurant scene, what people get wrong about Cajun food, and why he chooses to work exclusively with Aussie Lamb and Beef.
Where does the influence of Cajun & Creole cooking originally come from in your life?
A variety of factors. The first being my diverse ethnic background. My dad’s ancestry coming from a long line of slaves. Both Cajun & Creole people were subjected to that, and some of my dad’s roots are directly linked to them. I’ve also had the fortunate opportunity to travel all over the world, whether it was due to being a military kid and family vacations, or business trips and career opportunities. With my palate having experienced food from all over the world, I fell more in love with the Cajun & Creole cuisine because of the simple fact that it offers a wide variety of flavor elements that come from all parts of the world.
What are some specific misconceptions that people have when it comes to Cajun food?
The primary misconception that people have with Cajun food is that it is beyond spicy. It’s not. Of course there’s spice, but Cajun & Creole food is about flavor, first and foremost, not spice. People also tend to mesh both Cajun & Creole into the same pot, even though there are distinct differences between them, especially when we speak of when they were created and by whom. Cajun food is country food, poor folks food, whereas Creole was more reserved for the upper class, those that had money back in the day. And that’s just scratching the surface.
Despite experience and training in many cooking styles, you’ve stuck with your Cajun roots. Why did you decide to go all in on Cajun?
The abundance of cultures and influences speaks to me on many levels. While I love cooking all different styles of cuisines, I wanted to focus on Cajun culture because I believe it is misrepresented and not authentic enough, especially here in Las Vegas. With what I’ve been taught, the things I’ve experienced, and those that I’ve worked with, my goal is to bring Cajun cuisine to the forefront in my hometown; where it will be mentioned in the same breath as big name restaurants and restaurateurs across the globe.
So what’s the restaurant culture in Las Vegas like right now?
As the number one destination for vacations in the world, and also the “Food Capital” of the world, the restaurant industry is booming beyond belief right now. We are in a uber-competitive industry; especially with restaurants popping up left and right almost daily. Hell, I’m doing site locations for two restaurants as we speak, so I know how challenging this field is. The main trend I have noticed that separates the restaurant industry from other locations I’ve been in or visited is the quality. We have two standards out here, in my personal opinion, your restaurant is either Great or Garbage. The middle rung get forced out as quick as the bottom level spots. This city is growing so quickly and diversely, that our Las Vegas community doesn’t have time for mediocre restaurants or pop-ups, let alone 1-star ones.
As a small business owner in this hyper-competitive market, why did you choose to exclusively use Aussie beef and lamb products?
I like to work with organizations and brands that share similar ideologies to me and my brand. I take pride in everything I do because I am a direct representation of my heritage and culture, and when you add in Aussie products it is much the same. From the top tier to the butchers and fellow ambassadors, they take pride in their products as much as I take pride in utilizing their meats to create the best dishes possible.
Why are the Aussie products such a great fit for Cajun style cooking?
They are true to their product as I am to my Cajun & Creole roots. They produce the finest quality of beef and lamb, which I am proud to tell my customers because what I create is a perfect collaboration of two cultures that honor the products that are used.
You’ve shared one of your favorite recipes with us: Cajun Seared Grass-fed Aussie Flank Steak with a Spiced Chimichurri Sauce. Can you talk about why you love this dish so much, what inspired it, and how you approached the use of the Aussie beef?
This is a dish that is hard to NOT like! I mean, from the ease of cooking with the flank steak, to the spices of my Cajun rub to the acidic yet fresh flavors of the Chimichurri sauce, it’s a perfect dish as either an appetizer, side dish or a main course. My inspiration for this dish was my love for the flavors of Cajun culture, but also the style of meat that Aussie Beef presents. The Cajun rub put on this particular cut of beef matches well, because while the spices are distinct, they don’t take away from the natural flavors of the flank steak. The rub I created has very little salt, so you don’t get that punch to the face like with my spice rubs. Pair that up with the grassfed beef flavors, and the perfect sear and caramelized texture, and you have a steak that can stand on its own. Having never been a huge vegetable fan, I wanted to find a way to incorporate some aspect of veggies into the dish, and what better way than a condiment straight from South America, the Chimichurri sauce. The Aussie Grassfed flank steak had the spice and juiciness, where the Chimichurri sauce added that freshness and acidity to create the perfect bite.
Cajun Seared Grass-fed Aussie Flank Steak with Spiced Chimichurri Sauce
1 large Grass-fed Aussie Flank Steak 1/3 c “A Cajun Life” Blackening Spice Rub
“A Cajun Life” All-Purpose Seasoning Rub
Rub EVOO on steak to lightly coat, then season heavily with Blackening Spice rub.
Let sit for 30 minutes to “marinate” while making chimichurri.
When chimichurri is finished and refrigerating, cook the steak to medium-rare, and let rest 5-10 minutes before slicing and serving.
For the Chimichurri:
1 bunch Parsley, roughly chopped 1 bunch Cilantro, roughly chopped 2 Jalapeños, small diced 6 cloves Garlic, minced 4 Shallots, minced 1 1/2 c EVOO 2 tbsp. Honey 1-2 Lemons, depending on how acidic you want the chimichurri 1-2 Limes, depending on how acidic you want the chimichurri 2 tsp. Red Pepper Flakes 1 tsp. Oregano
Salt & Pepper, to taste
Place parsley, cilantro, jalapeño, garlic, and shallot in a bowl.
Add EVOO and honey and lightly stir.
Zest and juice both lemons and limes and stir chimichurri again.
Add in the spices and dry herbs and mix thoroughly.
Refrigerate until ready to serve steak.
Garnish with torn leaves of parsley.
Add salt & pepper to taste.
You can learn more about Will Staten and Ragin’ Cajun Cookin’ by connecting with him on Instagram, Facebook, or his website.
Chef’s Roll was honored to have been invited to visit Australia in September of this year with True Aussie Beef & Lamb. We got to see the beautiful and sprawling grasslands the lamb and cattle call home, and meet the farmers who put incredible care and attention into their work. We can attest to the care and quality of their products. Learn more about the wide range of top-quality offerings from Meat and Livestock Australia by visiting them on the web.