Richard Blais

Richard Blais explains how different it is to come back to compete in the finale after being home.

on Dec 4, 20090

Things have already begun to change. People are now approaching you in random places to say hello. At your restaurant, which is now 50% busier, it is hard to actually cook, because so many tables want to say hello. Your e-mail box is filling at a much more accelerated pace. Someone even started a Facebook fan page dedicated to supporting your beard....

So coming back is very different. You know what you look like and sound like on television. So you may have updated your hairdo. Bought a new leather jacket. Or hit the treadmill as it was with me. Or hit the cookie jar as it has been for others. But everyone is a little different now. And the playing field is absolutely leveled, because the break erases one important thing in any competition.

Momentum.

There’s an intangible feeling that momentum gives. I’ll bet at least three of our finalists never felt for a second that they were heading home at any point to date. Call it track record (which we are supposed to believe doesn’t exist), call it momentum, but whatever you call it, it’s gone now.

Ramping back up to the frenetic pace of cooking in the Top Chef world is tough. I should start a training school. Featuring the 401 class: Preparing for the Finals. Of course I know what not to do, like most coaches.

And the finals present even more challenges. Like not having the Top Chef kitchen. Like cooking outside or in a different geographical location with a host of new seasonal ingredients. Like all of a sudden living in a hotel room, by yourself, even for a few days. I’ll be the first to tell you that having a dozen cameras follow a group of chefs is weird enough. Having one personal camera crew for each chef makes things really awkward. Especially for me. I like to talk to myself out loud, but I’m savvy enough to not do it within earshot of company. Having a personal camera crew shut down communication with my alter ego for three days.  Needless to say, she was pissed that we didn’t win.

Finals also present these awkward moments where the chefs are just enjoying themselves in their new location. A stroll through a vineyard, a balloon flight, or squishing sand between their toes.  But they’re not relaxing. They’re thinking about food and what twists lay ahead. They don’t care about room service, or the wine tasting. I’m sure the thought flitted through Michael’s mind that he was going to have to cook Mr. Terlato, and how he was going to have to find a sous vide bag big enough, and that he would need more than one circulator to hold the temperature correctly. That he wanted his tenderloin, even though it’s a bit leaner. And he would of course cook it in one of his own wines.

But on a cheerier note, we are nearing the end of the season. And with the playing field equal, anyone can win. Especially with this group, where for the first time in a long time, everyone honestly deserves to be the winner, Jennifer included.

Keep up with me on Twitter @richardblais and at my blog on Omnivore Atlanta!

11 comments
RobinS.
RobinS.

Richard, I too have always been a huge fan and very disappointed when you did not win. Are you going to blog about anything that happens this season? I would love to know how you feel regarding Jenn getting sent home when Jamie had not completed the challenge at all. Since you were disqualified in the first episode with, I believe the winning dish, because you didn't complete the challenge in the time allowed. I really want to know how you feel about that. I know that you are taking risks in commenting during the competition but it is already over basically. I really want to hear your thoughts on this episode. How would have you felt if you had been sent home? At least you had a dish to serve and a good dish at that. Could it be that Jenn had some issues with Jamie leaving? Please respond I'm dying to know what you think.

DebDoes
DebDoes

Got to get by Flip and have another burger and shake real soon...two previous times did not disappoint, but the first time there with the California family and getting to meet you was the best. Glad you and Kevin are in Atlanta!

Jquill
Jquill

Loved youvon Top Chef, I thought you should have won. I mean no disrespect to any of your competitors, you were just my favorite. How do your fans get you your own show?

Rachel413
Rachel413

AWESOME blog. Answering the age-old question- if you were locked in a room with a bunch of people, who would you eat first?

And I think you'd be a great coach.

phan
phan

Richard.. YOU would have done so well and probably had won if you had been on this season. These chefs are all so great and professional and there's no "drama" and sexual crap about who is gay and who is not, and who likes whom, etc., like in your season. I can see how hard it must have been for you. You had to deal with so much crap and drama with the cats when you were the only serious one who just cooked to win and did your thing out of the limelight of the cameras. That is what I like about this season. Other than the "brothers"...which is a normal sibling rivalry issue and sad that they have to deal with it.. the dram and cursing have subsided n this show and great chefs and cooking have once again emerged like the first season. YOU would have won had you been on this season and have won amongst the best we've seen on this show.

julia
julia

I've really enjoyed your blogs...I hope to see you on Food Network with a show of your own...You have a terrific and very comfortable manner about you while you also explain what you're cooking in a easy to understand way. good luck.

mmc
mmc

Hi Richard,I love this season of Top Chef.I have never been so interested before.I don't want anyone to disturb me when I'm watching.I love Kevins dishes. From what I've seen they're consistently good, look delicious, and I think I would enjoy each one.I think Bryan has really started to shine and I think he is a creative cook.Michael is his own worst enemy.His arrogance will be his downfall even though he too is talented.Jen, even though eliminated will continue to go far if she stays healthy and keeps her nerves under control.I love this season and love these chefs....Good luck to all, you can cook for me anytime!

mmc
mmc

Hi Richard,I love this season of Top Chef.I have never been so interested before.I don't want anyone to disturb me when I'm watching.I love Kevins dishes. From what I've seen they're consistently good, look delicious, and I think I would enjoy each one.I think Bryan has really started to shine and I think he is a creative cook.Michael is his own worst enemy.His arrogance will be his downfall even though he too is talented.Jen, even though eliminated will continue to go far if she stays healthy and keeps her nerves under control.I love this season and love these chefs....Good luck to all, you can cook for me anytime!

JenZ
JenZ

Richard,

I've really enjoyed reading your blogs this season - I hope you come back next season! I was really bummed to see Jen go (esp as a fellow Jen), but you are right - any of the four are worthy of the title.

Jen

BGirl
BGirl

Richard, I think you'd make a fantastic cooking coach! I can picture you with a whistle and megaphone enthusiastically bellowing out cooking commands to your lucky charges. What an image. Thanks for your clever repartee. Who do YOU think should win?

JN
JN

Syndrome, good to hear from you! Got a good chuckle from your blog. Glad to see Kevin no longer resembles an orangutan, although that did make him more adorable in my eyes! LOL. Bummed to see Jennifer go.