Monday, September 8, 2008

HOME Free!


So, I have resigned my position at Home as of yesterday. It certainly won’t come as a surprise to many, but for many good reasons I just can’t continue my position there.

As an artist, it’s all about creative control. It’s all that matters (at least when it can afford to be all that matters), and the constant struggle between an owner’s view, and a chef’s perspective, has strained me to the point of re-focusing my efforts elsewhere.

It’s time to work for myself, and it’s a liberating feeling.

I have my current commitments to Bravo/NBC, my creative consulting company Trail Blais and my young family to keep me more than busy.

What made my decision very easy were a few uncomfortable meetings, where it was obvious that ownership didn’t value what I brought to the table and were insistent on a very archaic outlook of my position. HOME valued my physical time only, of which at times was limited because of prior commitments. When entering into this partnership, I laid out my full slate of commitments and everything was checked off on and approved. But “in theory” and “in practice” are two different things, I guess.

For the record, HOME tallied a four star review, and drove business up from its previous concept by 67 %. It was the first time I achieved those 2 things together. It was the first 4 star restaurant in that company.... and most likely, no, certainly, the last...

Home has been full every night with not only people searching out a good meal, but people who were coming for me, whether personally, or creatively, it was pretty apparent that this was a successful concept. It was a chef’s restaurant, a rarity in our city. But it never was the chef’s restaurant, and from the beginning, my most loyal fans knew this.

For the first time, it is clear to me, that I am in the position where the guests’ threshold of creativity has reached a parallel with a successful business model. Meaning I think Atlanta is ready for a restaurant that stretches. I know that if it is going to happen in Atlanta, it’s going to happen soon...

I hope Home continues with my team in place, as they have been running the restaurant anyway with much of my time devoted to travel. But it was a very simple choice, and for the first time, a decision where money wasn’t an issue.

I couldn’t be more pleased and excited. I have FLIP ahead, a project where I am the creative vision, I am booked for 3 months out for appearances, and most importantly, can now take some serious time hanging out with Baby Riley and my wife, who has been working her cream puffs off.

As well, there is an interesting opportunity brewing that could mean true artistic freedom.

14 comments:

chris said...

Richard,

Congrats on the liberation! I'm sure it's a relief. I was a little surprised to see you'd joined on with "Here To Serve" when Home was first announced, they've just always struck me as focusing more on pretense and "scene" than culinary creativity. Sounds like you'll be able to do a lot more of what you want to do in this new direction.

Chris "extraspecial"

Erin said...

Seems like you did what was best. A true artist can never let his or her creative vision be stifled by others. Can't wait to check out FLIP and especially this so-called Krispy Kreme milkshake. I salivate everytime I think about it. Hurry up Blais!

rr said...

right on! now, this all makes sense! let me know what your plans are and let's get you down here to the lone star state to co-host a dinner with me!

Anonymous said...

looking forward to flip. going to miss your presence at home, nonetheless

Anonymous said...

Richard, My friends had dinner last Sat. @ Home. Adam and Angie. You resigned on Sun, Lucky them!! It was their anniversary. They were totally delighted! Can't wait for Flip! See you soon, Regards, Rich Blais

Broderick - foto 404 said...

You look relieved, congrats on the success

irieemon said...

Smart Move - I enjoyed Home, but cant wait to visit Flip, and any other visions you might come up with!

gratefulchef2 said...

Glad you found your freedom, Richard. Cant wait to see FLIP and any more of your future endeavors. Hope the baby and wife are well. You have so much creativity; it is a shame to have it held back by a 'business mold'. I hope to see you soon!

Alex K.

Chef Thomas said...

Kudos Richard-
We all make deals with the devil for whatever reason;best of wishes with your future endevors. I would be honored if you would at least consider letting me stage where ever you end up

"Z" said...

Good for you, I say.
Best of luck in the future.

Josh said...

Oh, such mixed feelings -

I have to admit, I really like home. I came in myself and had a lovely tasting menu (thanks), and came twice with my wife and friends. You were only there for the tasting menu night, and it was extra special to me to have you bring my big protein, but I think I just liked aspects of the idea ss well (more casual and relaxed atmosphere, diverse menu, dishes that you could see evolve over time). I know you don't like the management much, but what about the chef de cuisine? Did you pick them? Train them? Think they can carry or even improve it once you're gone? How about the wait staff? I thought they were truly excellent, although I'm blocking on the name of the fabulous red-headed waitress from Maine. Are you brining them to Flip? Are they leaving with you in general?

Considering that I don't have to eat with the management, and it doesn't look like you're going to compete with them, would you recommend Home? Or, are you asking folks to avoid them to teach them a lesson or because you think it's going to fall apart without your.. input? Whatever the right word is for what you wanted to do there. I agree that Posh sort of sucked, so I believe it if you say to stay away and that you'll recreate the best of it at Flip (soon?).


On the other hand, your success on Top Chef means that you really should be able to design your own opportunities - whether it's design, menu development, cooking, or 'appearing' in whatever combination works for you. Also, as a guy giving up a great career to stay home with my new family, I think you've definitely earned the right to work exactly as much as you'd like. I'll be curious to see how you decide to figure out that balance between appearance work, restaurant work, and being a good dad and husband. I'm hoping you also consider a family lunch one day a week, so that those of us with little ones can still get out and eat some good food. Heck, if you can make food that little kids like along with their folks, you can keep your kids with you there, and keep the house full three meals a day!

Good luck with Flip, and better luck with finding a bunch of folks who you're happier working with.

Leslie said...

Congratulations on your decision, sounds like it was definitely the best move for you! I wait with baited breath for Flip. :)

MLW said...

Congrats - can't wait to dig into my first burger at FLIP. Just got an email from a wine club that has you at Taste of Atlanta in a few weeks. Do you know which day or what you're cooking?

Anonymous said...

Not realizing you had left Home, my fiancee and I returned for our Valentine's celebration with what we thought would be a dinner we would rave about for weeks as we did after our first experience. Boy, were we surprised. Richard, you're a fabulous chef, and we'll definitely check out FLIP! However, I think we're done with Home...extremely disappointed. I knew as soon as we were served that you weren't there any longer.