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The 'Top Chef All-Stars' winner discusses his first cookbook
Richard Blais was a fan favorite on Top Chef and Top Chef All-Stars, inspiring viewers with his modern take on cuisine that often included using techniqes such as sous vide or liquid nitrogen. But Blais heard a common refrain from his fans that they loved his food, but didn’t think they could ever tackle his recipes at home. So with that challenge in mind, Blais wrote the aptly titled Try This at Home. "The most frustrating thing to me was people saying 'Oh I can’t do your food'... This is stuff that anyone can do, really simple stuff — my version of home cooking."
The book also includes a wider range of recipes than you find in most cookbooks — everything from condiments to breakfast to dessert. "For me it’s really things that I like to eat... So condiments is a chapter which you don’t see in a lot of books, but is it about the hamburger or the ketchup sometimes?"
Watch the video above for more or if you are already convinced you can pre-order the book online.
Try This at Home
My wife, Jazmin, is of Honduran descent. When you walk into her mother's house, everything is Latin-inspired, especially the cooking. This dish is a Latin staple, and because Jazmin likes it so much, arroz con pollo has become a staple for us. You can throw in half a bag of frozen peas toward the end to up the nutritional content. We serve it with a bottle of hot sauce on the table and a bowl of yogurt.
Average user rating 3.5 / 4 Reviews 12 Percentage of reviewers who will make this recipe again 83 %
Potato Chip Omelet
This is an American-style Italian frittata or Spanish tortilla, an open-faced omelet that's a great last-minute brunch dish. The potato chips are layered throughout yet still retain their firm texture. (You don't even need to add salt to the eggs, because the potato chips provide the seasoning.) You can enjoy this warm or at room temperature, with sour cream on the side. Or if you're a ketchup-on-your-eggs person, use the San Marzano ketchup. (After I came up with this dish, I saw similar versions done by José Andrés and Ferran Adrià. A good idea is a good idea no matter how many people come up with it.)
Average user rating 0 / 4 Reviews 1 Percentage of reviewers who will make this recipe again 100 %
Pancakes with Warm Maple Syrup & Coffee Butter
If I entered a competitive-eating contest, itɽ be one for pancakes. I like mine crispy edged, yet soft and tender inside. After years of tinkering, I've found that the best way to get this texture is to start with a fresh pancake batter, but you don't even have to make it yourself. (I love the buttermilk-based Robby's pancake mix available at RobbysPancakeMix.com or Amazon.) If you can, let the batter sit overnight in the refrigerator to hydrate and swell—that extra time makes for the fluffiest pancakes, I promise you. I love the play of the sweet maple syrup with the creamy, slightly bitter nature of the coffee butter in this recipe.
Average user rating 3 / 4 Reviews 6 Percentage of reviewers who will make this recipe again 50 %
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[Photos: Paula Forbes / Eater]
Atlanta chef Richard Blais' first cookbook, Try This at Home: Recipes from My Head to Your Plate, is fun. It's as though it wants to be the rock and roll Modernist Cuisine at Home, all blocky text, saturated colors and babies in immersion circulators. The photography is not precious it's punchy and at times even messy. Basic recipes for spaghetti and meatballs or cheeseburgers can often be upgraded using the gizmos and futuristic techniques Blais became known for during both his Top Chef runs. There are foams here, yes, but there are also basic recipes for clam chowder (New England, thanks), French fries, and pancakes.
Blais clearly has a sense of humor about the endeavor, offering pranks to pull with liquid nitrogen and posing partly (mostly?) naked and covered with spaghetti with his entire family. Don't say you weren't warned. Try This at Home is out from Clarkson Potter February 26 (pre-order on Amazon) below, an excerpt.
Richard Blais Bio
Most recognizable as the winner of Bravo's Top Chef All-Stars, Richard Blais has played an influential role in hospitality for the last 15 years. He began his career, as so many young aspiring chefs do, as the "poissonnier" at McDonald's. It was here that he first dabbled in deconstruction in cuisine, serving Filet-O-Fish sandwiches sans top bun. His developing passion for food and the service industry led Richard to The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y. As an ambitious student, he spent time between semesters studying at the French Laundry in Yountville, Calif., under renowned Chef Thomas Keller and alongside then-rising stars Grant Achatz and Eric Ziebold. Upon graduating from the CIA in 1998, Richard ventured to New York for the opportunity to work with Chef Daniel Boulud at his famous flagship, Restaurant Daniel. Richard then followed his professional compass to Roses, Spain, where he completed a brief stage at El Bulli with culinary wizard Ferran Adrià.
In 2000 Richard relocated to Atlanta to oversee a local seafood concept. His wildly creative approach to cooking and cuisine led to the establishment of Trail Blais, a forward-thinking culinary company that has consulted on, designed and operated some of Atlanta's most-popular eateries, including multiple outposts of Flip Burger Boutique and HD-1. He recently launched The Spence, a restaurant concept in midtown Atlanta, and opened Juniper & Ivy, in San Diego, where he offers a refined approach to American cuisine and showcases the seasonal and local ingredients of California.
In Richard's debut cookbook, Try This at Home: Recipes from My Head to Your Plate, he reveals a simplified approach to adventurous cooking by sharing new flavor combinations and textures to reinvent home cooks' classic dishes. Each of the 125 recipes is straightforward enough to make at home, but for those who want to try using liquid nitrogen or a sous-vide machine, Richard offers fun variations on his recipes that add another level of excitement in the kitchen. Try This at Home was nominated for a James Beard Foundation Award in 2014 in the Cookbook: General Cooking category.
In December 2013 Richard appeared as the host of a brand-new television program entitled Cook Your Ass Off. The show, which aired on the HLN network, is a transformational culinary contest that focuses on the health struggles of everyday people. Talented chef contestants are pitted against each other in a three-round competition to transform daily indulgences into healthy and delicious meals. Richard has also appeared on the Today Show, Good Morning America, Live! with Kelly and Michael, and Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, as well as in numerous publications, including The New York Times, InStyle and Food & Wine magazine.
Richard Blais on 'Try This at Home' - Recipes
Chef Richard Blais, Atlanta, GA, Georgia, Try This At Home, Cookbook, The Spence, Flip Burger Boutique, Birmingham, AL, Alabama, HD1, Hot Dogs, New American, Southern, Where Chefs Eat, Recipes, How To Cook, Chefs Feed
3655 Roswell Road, Suite 300
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Chef Richard Blais, owner of Atlanta’s The Spence, HD1 and Flip Burger Boutiques restaurants in Atlanta and Birmingham, Alabama, is releasing his first cookbook “Try This at Home” on February 26th.
While it was his sophisticated cooking techniques that helped him win Bravo’s reality competition show Top Chef All-Stars in 2010, this book is geared towards the home cook, but you can still get his tips on using liquid nitrogen and sous vide. Each recipe comes with a personal story and user-friendly step-by-step directions.
Chef Richard Blais | “Try This At Home”
Photographs courtesy of Richard Blais
We spoke to Richard over the phone about “Try This At Home” while he was at his house with his two children. During the course of the interview, a furniture explosion took place in the background. “We just popped a vintage bean bag chair, there are little pellets all over the place. My wife’s grandmother had this awesome giant late ‘60s bean bag and now there are (I’m sure toxic) plastic pellets all over the living room. This is a good interview. This is good live stuff here.” Richard remained unfazed and soldiered on.
To get Richard’s recommendations for where to eat, drink and food shop in Atlanta, download the Find. Eat. Drink. iPhone App.
Q. Tell us about your new cookbook “Try This At Home?”
A. The book is really just trying to demystify what a lot of people think about me, people that know me already. They might think that my food is overly scientific or over the top or ultra creative, that it’s very difficult and time consuming. This book is really about how you cook at home. I wanted to showcase that if you give me a sauté pan and some butter, salt and vinegar, I can make great food. It’s definitely a home cookbook.
Q. Each recipe features a personal story, what was behind that?
A. A lot of the dishes have either been in one of my restaurants or come from a particular moment in time with my family. Instead of just saying, ‘This is how you make this dish,’ I wanted to tell a story. My food is a little bit more thoughtful and I wanted to showcase that.
Q. What are some of your favorite recipes from the book?
A. There’s a brisket recipe which is put some seasoning on it, wrap it in aluminum foil and put it in an oven. I think it’s just a great recipe that really cooks by itself and could cook overnight in a low oven while you’re sleeping or while you’re out and about, doing work around the house or something like that. It’s so easy and the results are just so tender and so--I hate this word--mouthwatering. It’s kind of hard to keep people away from it once you make that dish.
Then there’s a roast chicken dish with lemon curd . It’s a creative twist on lemon pepper chicken. Those are two dishes that jump out of the top of my head as ones to try.
Q. There’s a saying in the food critic world that if somebody can do chicken well, it’s like the ultimate test of their ability. Do you believe that?
A. I think so. I think a lot of chefs, especially a lot of serious restaurant chefs think, or I have in my past, thought of chicken as, ‘Who eats chicken?’ The fact is everyone eats chicken. I eat chicken a lot in my house. It’s a difficult protein to cook. Even if it’s just a boneless skinless breast because it’s easy to overcook, it’s easy to undercook. In the book, I talk about lobster kind of similar, the degree is difficult, but not a lot of people would think of it that way. If you make a good roast chicken that’s a telltale sign of a good chef and a good home cook.
Q. You talk about liquid nitrogen in your book and tips on being careful. How dangerous is it?
A. In the restaurants, we treat it like frying oil. You wouldn’t do anything with liquid nitrogen that you wouldn’t do with oil, because you would get burned. It’s as cold as frying oil is hot. That’s the way to think of it. But if you just touch your hand briefly in it or just kind of juggle it in your hand, the way you might put your finger over a candle or wave your hand over a candle, it’s not going to burn you. But it’s a book and I wanted to make sure that we don’t set someone off into the backyard with liquid nitrogen.
Q. The McDonald’s hot coffee kind of thing?
A. That’s kind of what it is. Can hot coffee be dangerous? Sure. I guess it can be. There’s also a page in the back of the book called Don’t Eat This. It’s recipes of non-food related items, toothpaste, hand soap, hair products. There’s a picture of my little girl taking a bath in a sous vide machine. These are things that are recipes, but just be smart about when you employ them.
Q. Thank you for time this morning and good luck picking up the bean bags.
Richard Blais's New Cookbook: Try This At Home
Atlanta chef, food personality, and Top Chef contestant Richard Blais has just written his first cookbook – Try This at Home: Recipes from My Head To your Plate. From the book's cover you can already tell it's going to be a fun read and skimming the inside for funky photos and block text confirms this. Eater caught up with Blais at the South Beach Wine and Food Festival, where he took over Evian's Instagram account, documenting his appearance at the Grand Tasting Village in photos, and talked cookbooks and plans. (We also scored a copy of the cookbook, which isn't officially out until tomorrow, February 26.)
What was the inspiration behind the book?
It's a cookbook for the home cook, so really what I wanted to do was come out with a book that sort of defined me a little better. People see me cooking on TV and see me being sort of a science, tech-driven chef ? the book's a little simpler than that. It was more of a personal defining book. I love Fergus Henderson's Nose To Tail, but there wasn't one particular book that I said well, I want my book to be like that, so it's pretty unique.
What is your favorite ingredient to cook with, what comes up a lot in the book?
My favorite ingredients change day to day. Stone crab and spiny lobster, when in South Beach those are pretty good favorite ingredients.
What is your favorite thing about the book?
Tough to pick, it's like choosing your favorite child. It depends what you're in the mood for. There's a roast chicken recipe that's great, a brisket, which is super easy to do ? there's many recipes that I love. My favorite part about the book is the photography. There's definitely a spirit of fun in the photography and I think it tells a story. I sort of found the way I wanted to shoot all of my cookbooks.
Already planning the next cookbook?
I am, planning on book two already and we'll see how that goes. Definitely more television, more cookbooks, more restaurants.
Speaking of "more restaurants", any news on opening Flip Burger Boutique in Miami Beach?
We're interested. Definitely a region that we're interested in. If anyone wants to write me a check or find me a space on Lincoln Road, we'll do that.
[Photo Courtesy of Angelica Galan]
Top Chef: Where Are They Now? Richard Blais
If you didn’t know Richard Blais from season 4 of Top Chef, you definitely know him now. Blais was a runner-up on his season (Stephanie Izard won the competition), but he went on to compete in Top Chef: All Stars and earned $200,000 along with, of course, the title of Top Chef. Now, he’s a recurring judge on the show and we’ll see more of him next season in Charleston.
Currently, he runs six restaurants: Juniper & Ivy, The Crack Shack, and FLIP Burger Boutique, which has four locations. He also released a book in 2013 called Try This at Home: Recipes from My Head to Your Plate. The book was nominated for a James Beard award. We caught up with Blais, now one of the most recognizable alumni of the show to find how what he’s up to now and where he’s going:
TB: How did your life change in the immediate aftermath of Top Chef?
RB: I got a few more emails… some new Twitter followers… It wasn’t this cataclysmic moment. I’ve been grinding it out for a while, so it was certainly a great moment, very emotional – both times – but the life changing stuff isn’t immediate.
TB: How has your life changed in the long term?
RB: Definitely much busier. It’s given me the opportunity to do and try things I never thought I would – like running marathons. Writing. Acting. Producing. Being a restaurateur, etc. Also, I think it’s made me more responsible, a better husband and dad I’d say.
TB: What is the most important lesson you learned from Top Chef?
RB: That a good haircut can go a long way.
TB: What’s next for you?
RB: I’ve got a lot in the works right now – continually growing and expanding in all aspects. More restaurants, books and TV.
TB: Do you still keep in touch with anyone from your season of Top Chef?
RB: We catch each other around and we are all on the circuit. Saw Eli (Kirshtein) and Michael Voltaggio in Austin recently, Antonia Lofaso in LA. Snapchatted with Brooke Williamson a few weeks ago. Shared a text with Dale Talde…we are all family in a lot of ways.
TB: Who are your favorite chefs (past and present)?
RB: Alton Brown, Gordon Ramsay, Guy Fieri, Rachael Ray, Tom Colicchio, Padma Lakshmi, Gail Simmons, Anthony Bourdain, Emeril Lagasse . . .
To be a chef, writer, critic, etc., and do that well, and also be capable of entertaining and delivering a performance takes a special set of skills and talents. As a younger chef, I remember scoffing at the likes of an Emeril. How naïve. These people are incredibly talented in multiple ways.
TB:If you could only have one condiment for the rest of your life, what would it be?
RB: Ketchup, without question.
Try This At Home: Recipes From My Head To Your Plate: A Cookbook
From Bravo&rsquos Top Chef All-Stars winner Richard Blais comes his very cool debut cookbook for home cooks looking to up their game with more excitement in the kitchen. This is accessible and fun, and includes the signature recipes, flavor combinations, and cooking techniques that have made him such a popular chef.
A new way to make a dish is always on Richard Blais&rsquos mind. He has a wildly creative approach&mdashwhether it&rsquos adding coffee to his butter, which he serves with pancakes incorporating the flavors of pastrami into mustard making cannelloni out of squid microwaving apple sauce for his pork chops or cooking lamb shanks in root beer. In his debut cookbook, with equal degrees of enthusiasm and humor, he shares 125 delicious recipes that are full of surprise and flavor. Plus there are 25 variations to add more adventure to your cooking&mdashsuch as making cheese foam for your burger or mashed sous vide peas to serve alongside your entrée. Dive into an exploration of your kitchen for both creativity and enjoyment. Now try this at home!
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