Top Chef Judge
Season 4 Contestant
Perhaps 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 "poissonier" at McDonald's. It was here where 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 Blais to the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY. As an ambitious student, he spent time between semesters studying at the French Laundry in Yountville, CA under renowned chef Thomas Keller and alongside then rising-stars Grant Achatz and Eric Ziebold. Upon graduating from the CIA in 1998, Blais ventured to New York for the opportunity to work with Chef Daniel Boulud at his famous flagship, Restaurant Daniel. He followed his professional compass to Roses, Spain and completed a brief stage at El Bulli with culinary wizard Ferran Adria.
In 2000, Blais 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 in early 2014, he will take his culinary vision bi-coastal, and open Juniper & Ivy in San Diego.
In Blais' recently released, debut cookbook, Try This at Home: Recipes from My Head to Your Plate (February, 2013), 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 to his recipes that add another level of excitement in the kitchen. Try This at Home was nominated for a James Beard Foundation Award 2014 in the "Cookbook: General Cooking" category.
In December 2013, Blais 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.
Most recently, Blais opened his first West Coast restaurant, Juniper & Ivy, in San Diego, where he offers a refined approach to American cuisine and showcases the seasonal and local ingredients of San Diego.
Blais has also appeared on TODAY Show, Good Morning America, Live with Kelly, and Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, as well as in numerous publications including The New York Times, InStyle, and Food & Wine magazine.