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Richard Blais on his cookbook deal and more ‘Top Chef’ cookbook news

Credit: Concentrics Restaurants

Credit: Concentrics Restaurants

Atlanta has been well represented on Bravo TV’s Top Chef shows. Now three of our own Top Chef stars — Richard Blais, Hugh Acheson and Kevin Gillespie — are capitalizing on their national exposure with cookbooks.

Top Chef All-Stars winner Richard Blais announced his cookbook deal on his Facebook page last week. He wrote, “BIG NEWS, as promised!! I’m so excited for you all to see this book…” The book deal is with Clarkson Potter, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group at Random House, Inc. and is scheduled to be released in November 2012.

According to a press release, the book “will feature Blais’s signature style—a creative and often quirky approach to cooking and food.” I had a chance to speak with Richard about his cookbook and asked him about the “quirky” label. He tells me the use of the word is a move away from the “mad scientist or crazy chef” terminology. To him, quirky means doing “something unique and somewhat different or off the beaten path. It’s someone who takes an idea and twists it using interesting ingredients.”

I was curious about the book’s intended audience. Will it rely on molecular gastronomy techniques and specialty equipment that would preclude many home cooks from using the recipes? Richard tells me, “It is most important for me to release something that has application for everyone from the restaurant chef, restaurant manager, the cook who watches Top Chef or the serious home cook. As I develop recipes, I have the home cook in mind.” The book will, however, include tips for how to take a recipe “to the next level” with some of the more advanced techniques for which Blais is known.

Richard admits that he could have put out a cookbook a few years ago but that until now, he “never felt ready to tell the whole story.” He calls himself an “aspiring writer” and says he is writing the text for the book himself. “If you’re outside of Atlanta, you might not know my whole story. So, the book will be laced with short stories that will segue into recipes.” (As an aside, if you’ve never read the “Knife’s Edge” pieces he’s written for Creative Loafing, you should. Here’s one I particularly enjoyed.)

courtesy of Clarkson Potter

courtesy of Clarkson Potter

We have two more reasons to be excited. Top Chef Masters alum Hugh Acheson and Top Chef Season 6 finalist Kevin Gillespie both have cookbooks in the works, as well. The first of these to hit the shelves will be ”A New Turn in the South: The Cuisine of Hugh Acheson” ($37.50 hardcover). Available on 10/18/11, it will contain 120 recipes and 100 color photographs, also being published by Clarkson Potter. The book will present a modern take on Southern cuisine, which is influenced by Acheson’s French culinary training and an emphasis on sourcing local ingredients. According to the Clarkson Potter website, “It is a visual and culinary record of the South that is both current and bound to tradition.”

Like Blais, Acheson has written the text for his book. At a recent demonstration where he mentioned the book, Acheson joked, “Many books are written by ghost writers these days. I found that out after I’d written mine.” In addition, many of his original line drawings and sketches will appear in his cookbook.

Kevin Gillespie will also share his culinary creativity with not one but two cookbooks to be released in the Fall of 2012 and Fall of 2013. Details are slim at this time, but here’s the word from the press release: “With recipes conceptualized through quality ingredients, mirroring the kitchen at Woodfire Grill, the cookbooks showcase Kevin’s passion for his food through rustic, raw, and “heirloomesque” photos and celebrate Kevin’s philosophy that learning is one of the key values in good cooking.” Gillespie will work with cookbook author David Joachim and Gena Berry will serve as the recipe editor for the project.

Looks like we’ll have lots of reading (and cooking) to do. I can’t wait.

–by Jenny Turknett, Food & More blog

– Jenny Turknett writes about Southern and Neighborhood Fare for the AJC Dining Team. She also publishes her own blog, Going Low Carb.

10 comments Add your comment

carla roqs

July 29th, 2011
8:29 am

love blais and kevin– roq on!!!

george

July 29th, 2011
10:44 am

i have really enjoyed blais compete on the food network and certainly enjoy his success but i cannot imagine being able to really utilize a cookbook of his unlike say flay’s work which makes cooking seem more “enthusiastic amateur” friendly.

artyc

July 29th, 2011
2:32 pm

make a million

artyc

July 29th, 2011
2:33 pm

weird cooking

Eli Kirshtein

July 29th, 2011
2:55 pm

My cooking is way better.

Joe

July 30th, 2011
11:11 am

Paid 267 dollars at Kevin’s Woodfire Grill and LEFT HUNGRY. Then, when I wrote to complain, Kevin engaged in name calling and was the most unprofessional “chef” I’ve ever spoken with. May his career be short and his books fall flat.

Dugan

July 30th, 2011
11:52 am

I paid 223 dollers at Woodfire Grill and had leftovers. Plus my date had such a good meal that we did the horizontal tango later. Thanks Kevin!

Ed

July 30th, 2011
4:44 pm

I cannot imagine going home hungry from Woodfire Grill, and I’ve not paid anywhere close to that much money there. Kevin cooks real food, something I’ve not seen Blais do except in some limited competitions on “Top Chef”. Even Blais’ burger joints are outdone by less-expensive competition. I’d love to be impressed by him, I know from watching that he has it in him. But so far, he hasn’t produced.

Janet

July 31st, 2011
5:29 pm

We went to Woodfire Grill for my 50th birthday. The meal was amazing! We did the five course tasting and loved it. The service and staff were first rate. They made us feel like royalty. We had a great time and had a great meal. Sure, it was pricey but worth every penny! A truly memorable meal.

Midtownie

July 31st, 2011
6:12 pm

I’ve been a big fan of Hugh Acheson’s for years. So glad he’s taken his time to do a book that shows who he is as a chef, rather than a quickie to make a few bucks.