I've been rooting for Top Chef's Richard Blais ever since we interviewed him back in March. Of course, I was psyched that Stephanie won, but Richard definitely wowed me this season with his clever and cheeky approach to cooking.
Watching Wednesday's season finale, I was shocked when Richard told the judges he "choked" in the last challenge. Thankfully, I had the honor of interviewing him again yesterday and got to hear all about what was going through his head. To read what he had to say about the finale, his fauxhawk, and his next restaurant, read more.
YumSugar: Was being on Top Chef what you expected?
Richard Blais: I had watched the show, but I’m not as passionate as I’ve found most of Top Chef nation to be. And it’s a tough experience for sure. I don’t think I was prepared for the social aspect of it and living in a house with strangers. To me, it would be really nice at the end of the day to go lay down in a quiet room and think, instead of having to go back and live with a bunch of people under the microscope so to speak. If you’ve never done a reality show, it definitely takes time to get used to.
YS: Were you happy with how you came off on camera?
RB: No. I see myself on the camera in the first episode, and I’m like, Wow, how did I get through casting? I’ve got be the weirdest-looking person. I have friends and family; why did no one tell me about my haircut, that maybe it was a little bit too long?
It was a shock to see that my hair’s that pointy. I got used to it eventually, and I’m sure it took the viewers time to get used to.
YS: Do you regret telling the judges that you choked in the final challenge?
RB: It’s tough to get a gauge on what happens at judges' table just watching the show. There’s a tremendous amount of dialogue that goes into it. I don’t think it was different from how I approached the judges' table throughout the competition. I’m very hard on my craft, and if it’s not perfect, I’m not afraid to admit it. I think using the term “choked” might have been a little rough on my part. But it’s important to represent yourself as being self-aware. That’s all I was doing. I’m not conceding the race or saying, “Hey listen, I suck. Give it to someone else.” I’m letting Tom and the judges know that it’s not the best meal I’ve ever cooked in my life, but I’ll probably never walk away from a meal and say that.
YS: How do you feel about your missteps in the final challenge?
RB:I think it was pretty obvious, for me as a viewer that I didn’t achieve what I’d been achieving throughout the season. Lisa, she overachieved — I don’t think there were many times the judges had so many nice things to say about her — and Stephanie stayed par for the course. I don’t think that anyone really knocked it out of the park. I hope that I don’t sound like I’m being defensive, but it was a lot closer in reality than it looked on TV. Usually at that point in the competition, Tom knows where it’s gonna go, and when we all walked away, he said wasn’t sure.
YS: What's next for you?
RB: The reason I went on the show was not to win $100,000 or to wear a crown that says Top Chef on it. The reason I went on Top Chef was for the personal challenge and to expose myself to people who might want to get behind a creative spirit and who want to back a restaurant driven by that passion. Right now, I'm running a restaurant called Home, and [my consulting company] Trail Blais will be opening a restaurant called Flip that’s a modern hamburger place here in Atlanta, very casual. I think we’ll have the world’s first liquid nitrogen milkshake bar.
YS: Will you have bacon milkshakes?
RB:I think there has to be. We’ll probably have fois gras and bacon and Krispy Kreme donut ice cream.
Photos courtesy of Bravo