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However, this season is definitely not All Star Richard Blais' first time sitting at Judges' Table. He has occasionally appeared as a guest judge in the culinary competition since first competing in Season 4 and later winning the All Stars Season 8.
Richard assures us that Top Chef fans will see a different side of him as he helps judge Season 18. "Just to be clear, I'm not the mean judge anymore, because I've judged many episodes of Top Chef, and I'm over it, Twitter. I'm over hearing about how I'm the mean judge," Richard told BravoTV.com in the above video, adding that he is "over" seeing tweets "about how I was such a nice contestant, but I'm such a mean judge."
"I'm not," Richard added. "I'm the good guy this year, I'm pretty sure."
In fact, Richard said that he hopes he's bringing as much joy to his fellow alumni diners as he is to Top Chef viewers this season. "I like to think that I bring a little bit of a lighter note to whatever table I'm sitting at," he said.
Richard said that he has also enjoyed getting to know his fellow All Star judges on a new level. "It's great being part of this alumni panel. There's so much strength on this panel," he shared. "And now, I get to learn from them and about them by being friends with them and not just competing with them."
As someone who has competed on Top Chef before, Richard said that he feels the weight of every decision he makes as a judge. "Sometimes the gravity can be really, really intense because it's so important and the food is so important," he explained. "But I do have a very strong philosophy that at the end of the day, it's just food."
Still, Richard is living proof of how big of the impact of being a part of Top Chef. "For this cast, this will absolutely change their life. The opportunities that will be in front of them when they get home. And so many of my alumni judges are here to attest to that. They've built empires, they've won awards. That's what it helped provide me," he shared. "I say that Top Chef turned a staircase into an escalator. So get ready to get on the escalator."
Want more Top Chef? New episodes air every Thursday at 8/7c or catch up on the Bravo app.
See what's next for the Season 18 cheftestants, below.
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