Richard Blais

Richard Blais walks through his Quickfire Challenge thought process.

on Jan 29, 2009

So, I’m fresh off a red-eye flight from Las Vegas. The town was abuzz for Sunday's Super Bowl. And I came home to a large cylinder of Quaker oats, ironically. In the next few hours I’ll be on another plane heading down to Tampa for some sort of <em>Top Chef </em>Super Bowl event ( pre game. early. watch what happens now ). All of this obviously appropriate for tonight's episode.

Why a delivery of Quaker Oats this morning?  

I’m developing some recipes and promoting the <em>Top Chef </em>Viewer Quaker Oats Quickfire Challenge. So I’ve had oats on my mind and palate for a few days now. And as I’ve been using the product, stretching the perception of the iconic breakfast staple, it’s totally reminded me of how it felt to be in a Quickfire.

With only a few minutes, even seconds, to formulate a dish, it’s amazing how many ideas can run through your head. For me at least, it was like an old school computer program scrolling down in my mind the combinations of flavors and textures. Weighing the time versus the procedure. Consolidating and focusing on what could be done, very fast, to deliver explosive flavor and a sense of authorship. 

I would be thinking like this, right before Padma said go; this is maybe a minute, maybe: 

“OK, oats, crust -- no, too predictable. Gonna riff on risotto, maybe polenta, oats as mashed potato! Got it. would love to grab a steak then. Sure there is beef in the fridge? Not a lot. I gotta run to the fridge first. I can't run in these clogs, damn. Everyone’s gonna grab veg first. I’m going to the fridge for the protein. If i don’t get the beef, I could use anything as steak, fish, etc. Maybe a sauce using whiskey -- no -- scotch! Yep, that makes sense: oats, scotch, haggis -- makes sense -- salmon steak? Maybe even some maple, maple and oats, sure. I’ll grill the steak; that's quick flavor. What about acid and texture? I’ll fry some of the oats for garnish, maybe coat some of the beef fat trim and fry, tempura parsley, cilantro, needs a fresh herb, dill? Needs vinegar for acid in the sauce. Red wine, maybe sherry, garlic -- wait -- maybe steak and eggs, and oats -- no --  steak and scotch eggs, truffle oats, maple, maple foam, smoked oats, smoked scotch”