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So, you wake up one day and there are a few cameras in your house. Your four year old has a mic on and your wife is spending a little more time getting ready in the bathroom. Your nanny is wearing make up today and bringing breakfast over this morning? And you are wearing one of your own t-hirts that you designed... And then it hits you about 30 minutes into filming, there is no challenge for the day a la Top Chef. The challenge IS the day. You quickly run out of, somewhat calculated, self-promotional things to say. You realize you aren't an actor. Or a Real Housewife. Or even, a Top Chef. You are just you, the good, the bad and maybe the really bad. Totally exposed. . .
That first night, after the cameras left from filming pillow talk, yes pillow talk, I decided that we had to do one thing that was imperative. Be real, talk openly and honestly, and just let it all go. It's the only way to do it. It's what you, the viewer, deserve. And it's what we all willingly signed up for, for the most part, to do. And it was hard.
I'm writing this without knowing or seeing any future episodes. But here is what I can tell you. It's real life. I used the interviews as a sort of therapy. In fact, my wife and I went into it with an agreement that neither of us would get mad about anything said in interviews. So, it was a safe place. I discussed throughout the "sessions", as I did tonight, some real struggles I have. For example, how difficult it can be to manage so many professional projects, as well as my most important job, being a husband and dad. I could have bypassed those issues, instead, waxing about the most amazing parts of my beautiful life, which I do indeed have. But the struggles, I believe, are common for any professional, in any industry, and for any family. And I wanted to express them.
Also, I wanted to express and acknowledge my firm belief that the competition really doesn't begin until your run on Top Chef is over. Winning Top Chef All-Stars was amazing but it wasn't the endgame. Win or lose, what you do with those moments after your appearance are what really count. I am a fan of so many chefs who have appeared on the franchise. I admire so many of them and their accomplishments. Fabio and Spike are masters at creating opportunity. They are good looking, smart businessmen, and not to mention, at this point, friends. (Maybe you saw Spike rocking the "Blaisian" t-shirt I designed for my line at TastyCotton.com). Jen Carroll is the bad ass in the kitchen everyone touts, as well as kind, endearing, and the free spirit we all wish we could be sometimes. And other chefs, not appearing in Life After Top Chef, the Voltaggio brothers, Dale Talde, Angelo Sosa, Mike Isabella, and especially Carla Hall are all accomplishing so much, in so many arenas. It would be dishonest to say I'm not aware of their successes. The restaurants and cookbooks, endorsements and television work. I compete with all of them, in a friendly, professional way, and I hope revealing that is OK with you.
In Life After, in my restaurants, you may see me in uncomfortable positions. The cameras were there when things were flowing smoothly and when things weren't. During one of these moments, I thought for a split second, to just kind of blow over an issue because there were cameras in front of me. But I couldn't. It would be acting, and intentionally misleading, and most of all, bad for my business if I just let things slide for the camera. So you will see my business for what it is and I'm happy about that for the sake of authenticity. You will see interactions with business partners, old and new. My discomfort dealing with suits and financiers, controllers and CFOs. Interactions with newbie cooks, who can't, and veteran chefs who have been with me for years. And the simple fact, that my work, or dare I say, brand, relies on so many other people who do so much for me. And unlike in the confines of Top Chef, I can not possibly be in control of it all.
Sometimes my world spins out of control, even if it's just in my own nerdy, little self-deprecating, nervous head, and I hope you enjoy it. . .
Follow me on Twitter and Instagram @RichardBlais