Chef and consultant Richard Blais is best known for his appearances on Bravo’s Top Chef. After his runner-up finish on the fourth season of the show, he returned to earn the title of Top Chef All-Star. He has also appeared on Top Chef Masters, Chopped All Stars, and Iron Chef America, and has served as a judge on Guys Grocery Games, Top Chef Canada, and Rachael vs. Guy. In 2010, Blais hosted Blais Off on The Science Channel. The following year, he recorded the series Burger Lab for the YouTube Tasted channel. In 2013, Blais hosted Cook Your Ass Off on the HLN Network in which chef contestants try to transform unhealthy dishes into more nutritious versions.
Blais began his career making Filet-O-Fish sandwiches at McDonald’s. He jokes that he was the restaurant’s “poissonier.” From those humble beginnings, he went on to complete his CIA externship at the renowned French Laundry in Yountville, CA alongside, then rising-stars, Grant Achatz ’94 and Eric Ziebold ’94. After graduation, Blais accepted a manager-in-training position at the CIA teaching fish fabrication and cookery. At the same time, he worked on a sustainable farm in Mount Kisco, NY. He used that experience to land a position working for Daniel Boulud and found his professional compass after a stage at el Bulli under Ferran Adrià.
Now Blais is the chef/owner of Trail Blais, a creative culinary company that consults for, designs, and operates popular restaurants including three FLIP Burger Boutiques in Atlanta, GA and one in Birmingham, AL; The Spence in Atlanta; and Juniper & Ivy in San Diego, CA.
In 2013, Blais partnered with hedge fund guru Mike Rosen of Juniper Hospitality and Atlanta-based Concentric Restaurants to create Juniper & Ivy. Their investment of $5 million included the purchase of the former Helix Wholesale Co. building and surrounding 35,000-square-foot plot of land. They set about transforming the 90-year-old structure into a 7,500-square-foot, multilevel restaurant with an open exhibition kitchen, glassed-in private dining room, lounge, and bar that seats 250. The Johnson Studio designed space on Kettner Avenue between Juniper and Ivy Streets is located in the Little Italy neighborhood and opened to the public on March 3, 2014.
Blais has undertaken product development and endorsements for major corporations like Diageo, LG, McCormick, iSi, Quaker, and Fancy Feast cat food. He has been featured in The New York Times, Sports Illustrated, Food Arts, and Food & Wine magazine and has appeared on Good Morning America, Today, and Rachael Ray.
After his Top Chef All Stars win, Blais pushed himself to get back in shape and dropped 60 pounds with the encouragement of his then girlfriend, Jazmin. He proposed at the end of his first race—the 10K Peachtree Road Race—and the two are now happily married. The family, including daughters Riley and Embry, recently relocated from Atlanta to Del Mar, CA so that Blais could be closer to Juniper & Ivy.
Blais released his first cookbook, Try This at Home: Recipes from My Head to Your Plate on February 26, 2013. He is currently appearing on Bravo’s Top Chef Duels and will serve as a judge on the upcoming Boston season of Top Chef.
His new Food Network show, Hungry Games, is set to premiere on October 20, 2014. In six half-hour episodes Blais will explore the psychology and science behind our food decisions through a series of fun hidden camera experiments and man-on-the-street taste tests. Blais just signed a lease for his fifth FLIP Burger restaurant, this time in Nashville, TN, and is opening his second restaurant in San Diego later this year.