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Interview with “Top Chef” man Richard Blais, appearing at Variety Playhouse Saturday

Flip Boutique co-owner and “Top Chef” finalist Richard Blais Saturday is going to take a stage normally reserved for the likes of the Indigo Girls and Shawn Mullins: the Variety Playhouse in Little Five Points.

He will do an interactive cooking demonstration at 3 p.m. Tickets are $25 each here.

“I’m nervous doing this in front of the home crowd,” Blais said by phone from a festival in Gettysburg, Penn. earlier this week. “I want to make sure they get their money’s worth.”

He said a promoter approached him about doing the Variety show and he was intrigued. “It’s the whole chef as a rock star thing,” he said. “I thought it’d be neat. I live in the Little Five Points area. I do these demonstrations mostly on the road. My hometown doesn’t get a chance to see this.”

Blais said there will be a three-course meal and surely, some Blais-infused gastronomy techniques. “We’re not going to do any food from Flip,” his successful boutique burger joint that opened late last year and has remained very busy. “It will be more fine dining food, not burger and fries.” And during the Q&A, people will be able to “pick my brain and my team’s brain.”

Over the past year, he has spent a lot of time criss-crossing the country doing cooking demonstrations at food shows and festivals. “My show is part Gallagher, part Sea World, part Carrot Top,” he said. “There will be props and things thrown into the audience. I would advise people bring helmets and rain gear!” (I think he was joking about the helmets…)

Last time I spoke with him last fall, he said he was seeking TV projects. Nothing had come through yet but he still has two percolating. He is happy that the “Top Chef” mojo has not faded to any major degree. “It’s pretty amazing to see,” he said. (Blais made it to the finale but did not win the fourth season of the popular Bravo show.)

He is not only planning to expand the Flip Boutique concept to Birmingham and Nashville, but he wants to do more in Atlanta. Plus, he has a cookbook project planned. “I just signed with a literary agent,” he said. And he is doing some restaurant consulting, too.

The work-life balance, he admitted, has been a challenge, since he has a one-year-old daughter Riley and a wife Jazmin. “Difficult,” he said. “Very difficult. My daughter has been in more cities in one year than I had by the time I was 20 years old.” Jazmin helps him with travel and coordination of the accounting and paperwork. “She’s the brains,” he said.

2 comments Add your comment

Dilly

June 26th, 2009
1:54 pm

Did he stick his finger in an electrical socket? What’s with that hair?

Chuckles

June 28th, 2009
2:01 pm

Heheh yeah, he was workin’ the Blais-hawk during Top Chef.

He’s such a talented guy. Every restaurant he’s been associated with goes off like fireworks on the Forth of July. His problem is FOCUS.

He’s a really gifted chef, don’t get me wrong. He just gets distracted. For example:
He was the brains behind a restaurant called Fishbone. He has more experience and talent with seafood than most chefs develop in 20 years time. But when he gets to Top Chef, and has a chance to show his ability, and is given choice of ingredients, he avoids seafood.
He wanted to do ’something different’. And he said that he ‘choked’.

It may just be his personality, heck, he might be a little ADD. But his food is superb.
And folks who know him say that he’s a great guy, for a Yankee.

:-)