HD-201106-a-richard-blais.jpg
HD-201106-a-richard-blais.jpg

Richard Blais

F&W Star Chef » See All F&W Chef Superstars Restaurants: Juniper & Ivy, The Crack Shack (San Diego, CA); Flip Burger (Multiple Locations) Experience: The French Laundry (Yountville, CA); Restaurant Daniel (NYC); BLAIS and One Midtown Kitchen (Atlanta) Education: Culinary Institute of America Who taught you how to cook? What is the most important thing you learned from him or her? My two grandmothers, who were practically opposites when it came to cooking. I had a French grandmother who was basically Julia Child in my eyes. She would make everything from scratch—everything from chicken stock to even Jell-O—and I realized later in life that she truly was a chef and culinary inspiration. My other grandmother was Irish-English, and she would basically crush potatoes and serve them with butter and salt. She believed in absolute simplicity and showed me that even the simplest ingredients can create a great dish when cooked the right way. What's a dish that defines your cooking style? I think that my lemon curd and black pepper roasted chicken defines my style—it’s a simple dish, but the unique ingredients and technique elevate it to really be an upgraded version of a classic. I brine the bird with unique spices like Szechuan peppercorn, coriander seeds and Thai chile, and make a delicious lemon curd with egg, sugar, lemon juice, butter and spices. After the bird is brined, I coat the chicken completely with this acidic yet rich curd, making for a delicious version of a classic roast chicken. Of course, people know me for my use of molecular gastronomy—I love to play around with scientific techniques and tools, like liquid nitrogen, dry ice and siphons to add unique elements to my dishes. What was the first dish you ever cooked yourself? And what is the best dish for a neophyte cook to try? I can’t envision the first dish I ever cooked myself, but I do remember the first dish I ever cooked for my now wife, Jazmin. I tried to impress her with veal marsala, served with roasted potatoes and garlic-laced spinach. It did the trick! New cooks should start with simple dishes that they feel comfortable with but want to perfect. Depending on their training, that might be perfecting homemade pasta so that it’s cooked perfectly al dente, or technically mastering a roast chicken, which isn’t as easy as it sounds. Then, they can build on and constantly improve with different techniques and new ingredients. Who is your food mentor? What is the most important thing you learned from him/her? I studied under Thomas Keller at French Laundry and under Daniel Boulud at Restaurant Daniel. They both taught me so much that went above and beyond just recipes and cooking techniques. Daniel is an amazing manager and really taught me how to be a leader in the kitchen. Thomas Keller is extremely organized and taught me how to manage a kitchen smoothly and efficiently. Favorite cookbook of all time? I love Fergus Henderson’s series of cookbooks, The Whole Beast: Nose to Tail Eating and Beyond Nose to Tail. I think people are surprised that my favorite cookbooks aren’t super scientific, but I love Fergus’s respect for the whole animal, local vegetables and simplistic cooking. What's the most important skill you need to be a great cook? Time management and being able to plan ahead, especially if you’re a home cook. It’s essential to be able to plan and prep your dishes ahead of time, as well as clean up as you go. Best bang-for-the-buck food trip—where would you go and why? New York City is one of my favorite food cities. You can find any type of authentic cuisine, from dim sum in Chinatown to pasta in Little Italy, at any time of day or night. You can take a cultural food tour and essentially travel around the world while staying in one city. What do you consider your other talent(s) besides cooking? Running. I love to run in new cities when I'm traveling, to get the lay of the land and explore. I run half-marathons and have done several full marathons, as well. It’s my way to decompress and work off all of the great things I’m fortunate enough to eat! What do you eat straight out of the fridge, standing up? What is your favorite snack? I love to whip up a cucumber and mayonnaise sandwich with sea salt on wheat bread. Mayonnaise is the ultimate condiment—you can use it as a base for just about every kind of sauce or dressing. If I’m just eating a quick snack, I’ll usually use good-quality, store-bought mayonnaise, but I also often make my own aioli, with egg, garlic, lemon juice, Dijon mustard, cider vinegar, white ground pepper, olive oil, hot sauce and kosher salt. Do you have any food superstitions or pre- or post- shift rituals? I have to scrub my workstation before beginning prep, even if I know that it has already been cleaned.
Spicy Green Posole
Rating: Unrated
4
This pozole from star chef Richard Blais gets amazing flavor from tomatillos, poblanos and jalapeños. Be sure to serve the fragrant chicken stew with all of the delicious garnishes suggested. Slideshow: More Tomatillo Recipes 
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Sabayon is a foamy dessert that typically has to be made just moments before serving—if left to stand for too long, it deflates. With the help of a siphon, you can make the sabayon hours in advance, and it will still be perfectly airy when it’s time for dessert. Slideshow: Fast and Easy Desserts 
Eating vegan for a month led Richard Blais to examine his pantry more closely. He discovered that ground porcini mushrooms add a meaty flavor to dishes like his veggie burger. Video: Richard Blais demonstrates this recipe More Amazing Vegetarian Dishes
Richard Blais explores his British roots at his Atlanta restaurant, The Spence. Lemon curd and malt liquor—both British in origin—are the surprise ingredients in his stellar chicken wings. Slideshow: Fantastic Chicken Wings 
Crisp and Lacy Onion Rings
Rating: Unrated
New!
There are all sorts of tricks for making deep-fry batters both delicate and crisp. Sometimes, recipes call for beating in beer or club soda (the little air bubbles lighten the mixture), or adding vodka (alcohol boils off more quickly than water, enhancing a batter’s texture). For these onion rings, Richard Blais uses both strategies and amplifies their effect by aerating the batter in a siphon. The results are some of the laciest, crunchiest onion rings you’ll ever taste. This batter is equally good on all kinds of fried foods, like chicken, pork cutlets, fish and other vegetables. Slideshow: Fried Foods 
Carrot Osso Buco
Rating: Unrated
1
In Richard Blais's playful vegan take on osso buco (braised veal shanks), he braises very large pieces of carrots in red wine and mushroom broth until tender. Ground dried porcini mushrooms give the dish rich, meaty flavor.
Brown-Butter Sponge Cakes
Rating: Unrated
1
Most cakes are leavened with baking soda or powder, but here Richard Blais uses a siphon to add air to batter. Then he squirts the batter into paper cups, microwaving each for just 45 seconds. Slideshow: Cake Recipes 
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Blue-Cheese Foam
Rating: Unrated
New!
Foams may seem passé, an overused chef trick. But their airy consistency can help make a good dish great. Consider the blue-cheese foam here, made by loading a homemade blue-cheese dressing into a siphon and charging it with gas. Whether you’re serving the blue-cheese foam with an iceberg-lettuce wedge that is all about cool crunch, or eating it with hot and crispy chicken wings, the light and frothy texture is a wonderful contrast. Slideshow: Cheese Recipes 
Brown-Butter Sponge Cakes
Rating: Unrated
1
Most cakes are leavened with baking soda or powder, but here Richard Blais uses a siphon to add air to batter. Then he squirts the batter into paper cups, microwaving each for just 45 seconds. Slideshow: Cake Recipes 
Blue-Cheese Foam
Rating: Unrated
New!
Foams may seem passé, an overused chef trick. But their airy consistency can help make a good dish great. Consider the blue-cheese foam here, made by loading a homemade blue-cheese dressing into a siphon and charging it with gas. Whether you’re serving the blue-cheese foam with an iceberg-lettuce wedge that is all about cool crunch, or eating it with hot and crispy chicken wings, the light and frothy texture is a wonderful contrast. Slideshow: Cheese Recipes