Go Away With … Richard Blais

Photo credit: Amanda Cowper/Discovery Science

By Jae-Ha Kim
December 28, 2010

On “Blais Off,” chef Richard Blais takes a scientific approach to cooking. That’s fitting, since the series airs on the Science Channel.

“I’m not a scientist so I have to do a lot of fact-checking to make sure everything’s correct,” says Blais, 38. “But I’m a curious cook and I love that science is about experimentation and that I get to implement that with what I do.”

The transplanted New Yorker resides in Atlanta with his wife, Jazmin, and toddler, Riley, who has already racked up 19,000 frequent flyer miles. Last seen on Bravo’s “Top Chef All-Stars,” Blais says he’ll be staying put in February, when Jazmin gives birth to their second daughter.

Q. What is your favorite vacation destination?

A. I would say recently my favorite has been Park City, Utah. My wife and I do a good bit of snowboarding. I’m more of a snow and mountain guy than a beach and sand guy. I haven’t been on every mountain there but I’m working on it. I started snowboarding in college and started out on some icy rocks in Vermont and spent some time in Colorado. I fell in love with it.

Q. Where are your favorite weekend getaways?

A. Definitely our favorite local getaway is Charleston, S.C. It’s a beautiful little sort of European city that’s perfect for a two- or three-day getaway. That’s been our sort of beach vacation for the last few years. We have good friends who live there. There are some really good chefs there and no one really knows about the city. I like that there aren’t so many tall buildings and that it has a really nice vibe to it.

Q. What are your favorite hotels?

A. I like the Mondrian Hotel in Los Angeles. And these might be passe by now in New York but I’m not cool. I like the Hudson Hotel and the Royalton Hotel. The Standard Hotel is another great place. They do a great job of making their living spaces into art. It has a very Tokyo feel to it — not that I’ve been to Tokyo! I like it better than the ones in Los Angeles.

Q. What are your favorite restaurants?

A. Barcelona is one of my favorite international cities and one of my favorite restaurants is Espai Sucre. I also like Santa Maria Restaurant. In New York I love WD-50 and anything David Chang is doing. (His) Ma Peche is fantastic. In Los Angeles I love this hot dog shop called Wurstkuche that has a nice vibe to it. I still need to get to Hot Doug’s in Chicago.

Q. When you go away, what are some of your must-have items?

A. Besides basic toiletries, I need a great pair of sneakers, shorts and running gear. And a good book, like whatever cookbook I’m into. I like to pack really light and then shop a lot and fill up my suitcase. I seem to never have enough shirts and always end up buying more.

Q. What are your five favorite cities?

A. Barcelona, London, Paris, New York and San Francisco, which is my favorite U.S. city. And if I can add a sixth, I love Seattle, too. I love the Pacific Northwest.

Q. Where would you like to go that you have never been to before?

A. I’ve never been to Tokyo. And I just found out that I’m Norwegian. I thought I was Swedish all these years. I’d love to go to Scandinavia. I’ve also never been to Italy, which is embarrassing for a chef, quite honestly. I love Italian food and it’s really the grounding force of all my cuisine.

Q. What is your best and/or worst vacation memory?

A. When my family was growing up, we didn’t have a lot of money. We were a blue-collar family that didn’t really vacation a lot. Our first vacation was when I was 12. We went to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y., which was about a six-hour drive from Long Island where I grew up. We stayed in these awful little motels with mosquitoes during the dog days of August. Even as a 12 year old, I could understand the misery of road travel. I didn’t think of it as a great vacation then, but I can really appreciate it now.

© 2010 JAE-HA KIM


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