Today I am speaking with award winning Chef, and sports enthusiast, Richard Blais. Richard was a finalist on the Bravo network's hit show, "Top Chef," and has been featured in Sports Illustrated, The New York Times, and Food & Wine Magazine to name a few. You can learn more about Richard, and read his blog @ www.Trailblais.com
SF: You and I are originally from Long Island, but you were literally born in the backyard of my beloved New York Islanders. Were you too young to get into the 4 in a row Stanley Cup run with Mike Bossy, Trottier, Gillies, Potvin, etc? Perhaps the Pat LaFontaine years?
RB: You forgot Tonelli, Morrow and Billy Smith!! One of my first sports memories was driving around in our station wagon, waving flags out of the window honking the horn and celebrating the first Stanley Cup in 1980.
SF: I know you are a big College Football fan (Florida?). I have to imagine that you have hosted some pretty intense tailgates. Can you tell us a bit about some of your most memorable outings and what was on the menu?
RB: Yeah..There is nothing like the energy at the "Swamp." We typically hop around to other peoples' tailgates. I guess because I spend time cooking professionally, it's nice to take a break and enjoy someone else's hard work. but one thing about being in the south is they know how to tailgate....racks of ribs, brisket, pulled pork, etc....
Blaise, Sports Freak & Son
SF: I have been a big fan of "Top Chef" since season one. I understand a big part of the appeal, is the drama that goes on, and not necessarily the cooking. Do you feel as if the editors portrayed you properly when you got to sit back and watch the show, or was the real you left on the cutting room floor?
RB: The editing made me out to be a nice guy, and if you ask my staff they might not agree with that portrayal! Actually, I think the editing is pretty true for most of the characters. It's hard to hide your true personality when the cameras are on you for six weeks straight. Eventually it comes out.
SF: I have had the opportunity to dine at your latest (I think?) restaurant here in Atlanta - FLIP. I am telling the truth, (and sucking up at the same time) when I say my Nutella thick shake and Turkey burger were mouth-wateringly delicious! I was also impressed to see you in the trenches in the kitchen getting dirty. I'm no Tom Colicchio, but shouldn't you be at the front of the house pressing flesh?
RB: I always want to be "hands on," in the kitchen. Cooking is such a sensual art, and if you aren't physically touching the product, then you can't be that connected. However, as I've matured as a chef, I know that my value lies not only in the kitchen, but also in the dining room meeting the guests and entertaining.
SF: Speaking of Colicchio (Head judge of Top Chef), how many times during lineup did you want to run up and smack him, or any of the judges for that matter? Nice folks of course, but sometimes they made me feel so awkward and uncomfortable when they treated you like you were in the principal's office. Any comment on how that all went down?
RB: Honestly, I valued the judges' opinions. I respect Tom Colicchio's career path, and frankly wouldn't mind having my career mirror his. The judge's table takes much longer than the few moments that it is edited down to and aired. They are actually quite complimentary if it's deserved and contrarily, they will tell you straight up if you blew it!
SF: I know you and your wife are big fans of the Original Retro Brand tees. What is it you like so much about them?
RB: The quality is AMAZING. They are super-soft and unique. It feels great walking into a tailgate and having the shirt everyone asks where you got it from.
Thanks for taking time out to talk with me today Richard. Now get back in the Kitchen cause I'm coming down for lunch!
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