Richard Blais has been his usual consummate professional self on Bravo’s “Top Chef: All Stars” after three episodes – save for missing the clock in the debut episode. He’s been safe after four eliminations, with 14 remaining.
But he’s already looking beyond that show with his very own effort on the Science Channel called “Blais Off.”
On Friday, the small network is doing what it’s dubbing a “sneak preview” of the show with two episodes.
“It’s a test run,” said Blais in a phone interview earlier this week while he was cooking sourdough bread. “They’ll see how it goes over. For me, it’s a great education.”
He is using his love of science to tinker with traditional recipes of iconic foods. In these test episodes, he will try to update pizza and burgers.
Blais said he pitched the show to other networks but Science liked it best. “I pitched to Science knowing in my heart and head that’s the one that’s going to stick,” he said. “I walked into the pitch with a tank of liquid nitrogen and did a demonstration. The enthusiasm was there.”
I watched the pizza episode. In October, right after he filmed “Top Chef,” he visited a classic pizza joint in New York City called Patsy’s where he learned how the pizza is made. “I get this free education,” he said, “then take it back to my lab and re-engineer it to make it taste better.” He tries different techniques (including his now patented liquid nitrogen) to boost flavor. Then he takes it back to the pizza place and regulars try both pizzas side by side.
“It was intimidating,” he admitted.
During the episode, Blais is charming and energetic, breaking down scientific methods without getting too bogged down in jargon.
Ironically, he said, he failed chemistry in high school. “My lack of enthusiasm in high school has led me to be interested in everything now,” he said. (It’s no coincidence he married a woman Jazmin who has a masters in microbiology from Emory.)
In fact, making pizza has inspired him to get into yeast and dough, which is why he has been spending so much time baking bread at home.
Check out the show trailer here:
“Blais Off,” 10 p.m. and 10:30 p.m., The Science Channel