Have you ever wanted to give a reality show contestant a hug after a loss as much as you did Richard Blais last night on the finale of Top Chef 4? I’ve now used this word about fifteen times in describing the end of the show, but I found it heartbreaking to see Richard so sad in the final judging. As much as I love scrappy Stephanie Izard and am happy for her win, there is just something wrenching about watching someone who had been so totally focused seem to not live up to his own standards.
However, no matter how rough that was, Richard is clearly a very talented guy who will continue to have success in his culinary career, and he and his wife have something a bit more life-changing on their hands than a Top Chef win: as of 2:17pm Eastern today, their new baby daughter is two weeks old. He still found time to speak with us today, so read on for the highlights and audio of the interview.
As you might expect, the gadget guy references using all available technology to help with the introduction of a new baby to the Blais household, saying he’s got a lot of white noise makers going. When I asked him where he gathers his new techniques, tips and tricks, his answer confirms that he is indeed the curious, creative type who is constantly on the lookout for something novel and useful. He noted that during the downtime in the hospital during and after his daughter’s birth, he couldn’t help but notice tools and equipment and think about their potential application.
However, as he clarified, he doesn’t agree with those – like me – who have labeled him a molecular gastronomist. He says he likes the gadgets and techniques, but he wouldn’t call himself that. (This reaction makes me wonder if in the food world this term is now like “feminist” or “liberal;” a term too loaded for people to want to be saddled with baggage that goes along with it.)
Richard talks about the finale, and admits he might have gotten a little too serious about the whole thing by the time the chefs got to Puerto Rico. He also talks about the motivation behind his making the comment that he choked.
Listening to the interview again after, I noticed one thing that is interesting about how Richard talks about the end and that is his disappointment seems to be focused entirely on himself. I’ve noticed in several other interviews, most chefs take some level of responsibility but often can’t resist noting how well they did throughout the competition or there is at least a minor twinge of “Someone else should have gone home, not me.” I didn’t get into that line of questioning with him, but it’s still interesting that he didn’t really take it there himself, especially since he had done so well during the entire show.
On a lighter note, after weeks of listening to myself be a giggly doofus in interviews, I was making a concerted effort to be less of a giggly doofus. Little did I know this would cause Richard some concern as he eventually noted that I was a “tough crowd” and his jokes were not going over well. Which, of course, is just even more endearing. He was surprised and, he said, mildly embarrassed that I knew his band name (“Crème Fraiche”) for his spot as the “fifth Beatle” in Spike Mendelsohn, Andrew D’Ambrosi and Mark Simmons’ Top Chef 4 group, Mise en Place.
Richard says he has some endorsement deals in the works that he can’t discuss right now, but here’s hoping we continue to hear from the inventive chef.
– Leslie Seaton, BuddyTV Staff Columnist
(Image courtesy of Bravo)