Richard Blais is most recognizable for winning “Top Chef: All-Stars.” He also runs several locations of FLIP Burger throughout The South, The Spence in Atlanta, and Juniper & Ivy in San Diego. Blais demonstrated his skills on August 23 at the 2014 Los Angeles Food & Wine culinary festival, preparing a reimagined play on vitello tonnato, complete with veal bone marrow, fried veal sweetbreads, and tuna tartare. Here are 10 of my favorite fun facts and quotes from Richard Blais.
1. If Blais played baseball, his walk-up music during at-bats would be The Beastie Boys’ Intergalactic: “It’s got a lot of bass to it, it would intimidate opposing pitchers, and it freaked out Marcel [Vigneron].”
2. “I’m from the Bay Area” means “I know what’s up.” “I’m from Oakland” means you can also probably win a street fight too.
3. Juniper & Ivy’s wood-burning oven burns olive and juniper branches because, “We like to cook with what’s around us.”
4. “We go through these phases, in this foodie orgasm world, where certain dishes fall out of favorite because we’ve seen it so many times, but a great tuna tartare is just awesome. Order what we like to eat, and what tastes delicious.”
5. “I’m a classicist, more than anything else.”
6. Blais joked about being a “molecular gastronomist,” and said he he stopped traveling with “miscellaneous white powders” because he got tired of explaining xanthan gum to TSA agents, in handcuffs.
7. “Here’s the key to brining. Know the percentage of the brine. Usually 8% is tops for pretty much anything. For a piece of fish, a couple of hours is usually good. A turkey, overnight…Make sure you rinse it before you cook it. Otherwise, it will be way too salty.”
8. When smoking gun didn’t produce smoke, Blais said, “This is called management. It’s not about going wrong, it’s about what to do when things have gone wrong.”
9. “I would love to do a hotel one day…I’m a big room service fan, mainly because I can use bath towels to wash off chicken wings.”
10. “I’m a teacher, I don’t know about a mentor. That sounds a little big.”