Wednesday, July 2, 2008

CC's twin-celebrity chef, Richard Blais

CC On the night of the finale of Bravo's Top Chef, we dined at Home, Richard Blais' restaurant in Buckhead. Don't know Richard Blais? He was one of 3 finalists on the show and CC's twin. We played up CC's naturally occuring mohawk and got her photo in the AJC. See above.
me at Home with CC and prominent food critic of the AJC working on her article.
CC all calm, even though Richard didn't win.

Here is a copy of the article:

By John KesslerThe Atlanta Journal-ConstitutionPublished on: 06/13/08

On Wednesday night, customers of Home Restaurant & Bar in Buckhead packed around a television in the small bar to cheer on chef Richard Blais during the finale of the fourth season of "Top Chef."
In tribute to the spike-haired chef, Laurie Burlington, 35, of East Point duplicated his vertical 'do on her nearly 4-month-old baby, Cecelia. Despite the cheering, shushing and shrieks of the spectators Cecelia tuned out, laying her faux hawk down on a sofa and falling asleep before the show was half over.
Notably absent from the crowd was the chef himself. Blais, who'd known for nearly a month that he had lost the reality show title to Chicagoan Stephanie Izard, had just returned from visiting his family in New York. "I didn't get home early enough to rush to the restaurant and watch my demise on national television," he said by telephone the morning after the show aired. "I ran a few miles to clear my head and just went home."
Blais was, no bones about it, disappointed. Really disappointed.
"If you're going to be in a game, you want to win," he said. Through the run of the season, the 36-year-old chef seemed the one to beat. His innovative technique and whimsy made his food stand apart. He fashioned "tacos" from gossamer jicama slices, sauced salmon with wasabi and white chocolate, and marinated tofu in beef fat to delight of the judges.
But during the final contest in Puerto Rico —- a four-course meal that had to include fish, poultry, meat and a dessert —- things did not go well for the usually poised chef. He had trouble deciding on a menu, got frazzled and couldn't quite pull his dishes together.
"Yeah, sure, I'll say it. I think I choked," Blais told the judges after the meal. They had given him poor marks on a pork belly dish.
Blais said he knew he was in trouble when the oversized slab of fatty meat arrived and was apparently from a Hogzilla-size pig. "It was literally a different animal. I would have loved it to be like the dish I cook every day in my restaurant."
Since the finale wrapped in early May, Blais has had to smile and feint his way through endless questions from well wishers every time he stepped on a plane or went for a jog.
"That was the toughest part. You know the outcome, and you just can't say anything," he said.
Still, the notoriety from appearing on the show has opened many doors for the innovative chef.
He has endorsement and product-development deals with a number of companies, including Red Stripe beer, Garrett Popcorn and Bailey's Irish Cream. Investors have also been sniffing around.
"I got a text message from an anonymous person who wants to invest in a restaurant, but who knows how serious it is," said Blais.
For the record: He has no plans to leave his position as chef at Home, or Atlanta. "I feel great about Home. The place is filled every night, and let's be honest. That's about 'Top Chef.' "
Though disappointed in the outcome, Blais was gracious about his much-hated competitor Lisa Fernandes ("I never worked with her side by side"), the Toyota Corolla he won on the penultimate episode (no comment on trading in his BMW for it) and the grueling hours on the set (contestants usually didn't go to the judges' table until 4 in the morning).
Though happy with the experience and eager to do it again if ever asked back, Blais refuses to indulge in any platitudes about winning and losing.
"I feel like I failed," he said in summation of the outcome. "I feel like I let Atlanta down."
Atlanta sure doesn't feel that way.
Bob Longino of the AJC staff contributed reporting to this story.

postscript- I am way behind on the blog because Rob was gone to Greece for 2 weeks. I have high hopes of catching up in the next week.

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