Urban celebrity chef Rory Schepisi finds love, country and beef
Rory Schepisi’s name might sound familiar to some. She was a finalist in the hit television show, The Next Food Network Star. Schepisi owns a popular steakhouse, The Boot Hill Saloon, in Vega, TX, where she and her cowboy boyfriend raise and sell horses on their ranch.
Schepisi’s country life is a far cry from her roots, where she grew up fifteen minutes from New York City. Her family was in the restaurant business, and she spent most of her teen years bussing tables, prepping food and grilling up meals in the kitchen. At age 17, she was accepted into the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY, where she studied the hospitality business, opening her first restaurant, Bourbon Street, in Hillsdale, NJ, at the age of 21.
Five years later, Schepisi moved to Los Angeles to pursue an acting career. After almost giving up, one last final audition landed her a contestant spot on the reality television program Popularity Contest for Country Music Television (CMT), which was located in the small town of Vega, TX.
So, why should beef producers care about a city girl, turned country, who dabbles in cooking, acting and reality television? When Schepisi placed second on the show, she realized her heart was with rural America. She traded in her designer high heels for cowboy boots, and fell in love with a cattleman who showed her the ropes of ranching. Once a vegetarian, she now serves as one of the beef industry’s biggest advocates, serving up sizzling steaks and boasting about the health benefits of beef to anyone who will listen.
Schepisi has appeared on the Rachael Ray Show, where she wowed the crowd with her cheese and steak recipe. She also holds the 2008 and 2009 Texas Restaurant Association titles for her famous ribs, which landed her a cover shoot with Bon Appetit magazine. She is also the face for the Southwest Dairy Farmers organization, and is currently working on her first cookbook and developing ideas for her own cooking show. With a whirlwind career already under her belt, the cowgirl chef loves the simple things in life the most – a grilled steak and a quiet evening on the ranch.
“It’s funny, the first time my mother came out to visit, she started crying and asked me why I wanted to live like Laura Ingalls Wilder,” laughed Schepisi. “But, when I got her to the ranch, sat her on the porch, and we watched the horses roam the wide open spaces as the sun set, I could see her start to fall in love. It didn’t take her long to understand why I stayed in Texas. I’ve quickly discovered that cowboys are some of the hardest working people in the world. Their love of the land, the animals and the friendships they have with each other is just amazing.”
More than falling in love with a cowboy, the former vegetarian is passionate about beef, too.
“Beef to me is my speciality,” she said. “I love how many different cuts and flavors come from one animal and how there are so many different ways you can prepare it. No matter what I do to my steaks, there is nothing better than just a steak on the grill with a little salt and pepper.”
To add flair to her steaks, this celebrity chef creates what she simply named, “Steak Dip.” It’s one part soy sauce and one part pickled jalapeno juice, with additional steak seasonings. The steaks are dipped and grilled, then dipped again before finishing – a quick addition that she described as, “an amazing compliment to beef!”
Her love of beef comes as a surprise to many. Schepisi was a six-year vegetarian after seeing footage from a slaughter house, vowing never eat meat again. Ironically, today she runs a steak house and is a huge supporter of beef producers.
“I had a restaurant where I was cooking steaks for people and wondering why I’m not eating that because they smelled so good,” she admitted. “One day I caved to a filet mignon, and I realized how much I was missing. Beef is such a huge source of protein, and consumers need to discover that again. The negative stories about one facility or one bad health report about beef really puts a damper on cattle ranchers everywhere. It really hurts cattlemen, and that’s such a shame.”
Rory Schepisi has a unique story, an award-winning personality, a star-studded resume, and a true heart for agriculture, beef and the cowboy way of life. Her goal is to create an awareness and appreciation for healthy, lean beef and the hard-working cattle producers who put that beef on the dinner table.
“I wish more people knew that food doesn’t come from the grocery store,” she concluded. “There is so much that goes into one steak. Today’s consumers need to hear this story, and I’m going to tell it!”
editor’s note: watch this advocate in action and follow her rise to stardom at http://www.boothillvega.com.
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