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Renee Burness would love to get cooking tips from the Roux brothers, but we think this master of northern Italian cuisine could teach them a thing or two!
Renee Burness started her apprenticeship at 16, learning the trade at some well-known restaurants in the Hunter Valley and Newcastle. After moving away to the Gold Coast for an executive chef role, Renee realised how much she missed the beautiful Hunter Valley and decided to return. Early in 2010 Renee joined Il Cacciatore, which has been voted Best Italian Restaurant in the Hunter Region for eight out of the last 10 years.
Where did you grow up?
When did you realise you wanted to be a chef?
“I remember cooking with my mum, aunty and cousins when I was 11 years old and I knew then how much I enjoyed cooking. I think it was decided before I arrived on this earth.”
Is there one dish you still struggle to get right?
“Homemade croissants, I still have trouble getting them right.”
What does it take to be a successful chef?
“Passion, strength and a love for working hard!”
Worst job you have ever had?
“Can’t say that I have ever had one!”
What is your signature dish?
“I cook an awesome pork belly, tender with crispy skin - melt in your mouth. I tend to change it up a bit from time to time, at the moment it’s served with a marsala glaze and prawn involtini.”
What is unique about your restaurant?
“We are a northern Italian-inspired cuisine restaurant. We use rices, polenta, butter - all of the things more popular in northern Italy.”
What is the chef serving in heaven?
“Crusty sourdough, aged cheddar, quince paste and a nice aged shiraz.”
What is the most bizarre dish you have ever tried?
“A trio of emu, crocodile, and kangaroo - it was very bizarre and not at all what I had expected.”
What is one question people are always asking you?
“What is your signature dish?”
What is your biggest food indulgence?
How do you have your coffee?
“Strong, not too hot (the quicker I can drink it the better).”
What ingredient are you obsessed with right now?
“Fresh figs, I just love them, so beautiful and light.”
Which three people would you invite to a dinner party?
“Ooh there are so many people I would like to invite, but if I had to choose, Oprah, Johnny Depp and the Roux brothers - just to get some tips.”
What is your best tip for home cooks?
“Preparation is the key; getting organised for a dinner party makes life easy when your guests arrive.”
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