Sunday, October 26, 2008

Rock the Vote

Do I have douchebag hair?

Close Encounters

I don’t think I’ve ever read about what happens to people after they appear on a major reality show. And I’m not quite sure if anyone really cares, but...

Recently, I entered the next phase of my post Top Chef existence.

There are still people who yell out “Top Chef”. There are encounters that start with, “Hey Richard”. There are frequently times people shout out “ you should have won”, or “ banana scallops”. There are, believe it or not, some who yell “ I love you”. For the record these tend to be slightly bearded and more than slightly overweight men. However now I get a lot more puzzled looks, and mostly this:

“Where do I know you from?”

If I was single and better looking, I’d think this was a sure pick up line, no ?

I do like this, as it’s presents an interesting engagement. Here are my personal rules for my behavior in such situations:

I’m not going to say that you know me from Top Chef or Iron chef or TV. It’s not going to happen. It’s a bad recipe. The first time I did this, the gentleman said, "no, I thought you were Craig Wilson from softball". So, I affectionately call this the Craig Wilson rule. You have to guess. I’m not going to be that douche bag that says, Oh, you probably know me from this television show, so you can then say that you thought we went to elementary school together. BTW, softball ?

I will say that I’m a chef. That's my only hint and of course I’ll introduce myself if it gets to that point. After that, you're on your own. There have been a few times that this triggers their memory a few yards after we disengage. Then, the inevitable shout across the airport is (my favorite), “oh yeah, Americas next Top Chef”. It is amusing.

I also will play for a bit if it seems we may actually know each other from some other encounter, you never know. So, there have been times where I’ve said, yes, I have been to Florida, I did live in New York, I did play little league baseball or no, I haven’t been on That Seventies Show. Yeah...that last one really threw me too!

And of course there are moments where people don’t say anything. That is how I would play it. In fact, that is how I have played it! I once followed Al Horford, one of my favorite basketball players for a few hundred yards not getting the nerve to say hello. For all of my friends, that's how I “know” Al Horford. I’d like to think that because Al Horford could palm my skull, that had to do with not pulling the trigger, nope. I did the same thing to Alton Brown once. Of course now I know Alton enough to walk up and say hello, so please don’t tell him that I stalked him at LaGuardia once.

BTW... If you are in NYC, I will be at Grand Central tomorrow from 12-2 for a charity event Bravo is hosting. Come say hello...

Friday, October 17, 2008

Updated Schedule

10/22 Washington DC
10/24 NYC, Top Chef tour at Union Square
10/25 NYC, Top Chef tour at Union Square
10/27 NYC, a Bravo event for charity
10/31 Atlanta, Veuve Cliquot's Yelloween
11/6 Philadedlphia, Tangerine Restaurant for James Beard Foundation dinner
11/7 Hyde Park, CIA
11/8 Hyde Park, CIA
11/9-11/12 Kingston, Jamaica, Red Stripe
11/14-11/15 San Diego, Wine & Food Fest
11/19-11/21 NYC, details to follow
12/6 Perry, GA, iVillage prize dinner

Thursday, October 16, 2008

We need a DJ!

Just wrapped 2 events over the last 3 days. Taste of Atlanta and a demonstration for RCA (Research Chefs Association).

Taste of Atlanta was very impressive. I’ve been doing a lot of these types of food festivals lately and this one was very organized. A tip of the ol' dodgers cap to the people behind it... Good enough that I’d like to book for next year, wink, wink.

What came from the event, however, was what made it worth the time.

We need a DJ !

Not, literally, but I got to see G. Garvin go on stage after me, and he had the crowd amped with hip-hop mash ups and the sort. I think he even had a warm-up act!

Now for the record, I had no idea who G. Garvin was and I still don’t, but his show really inspired me.

If we are going to do demonstrations as regularly as we have; then we need to really think about the “show” not from just an informative stand point but as entertainment.

I’ll be turning this in the think tank for a few, and I’m sure we will figure out some neat ways to deliver better entertainment bang for the buck. If anyone wants to put together some intro music... hit me up!

Lot’s of fans at TOA, here are a few crazy groupies. Luckily, my wife was in the audience, as these girls were, well, all over me...

Two days later we trekked down I-75 and did an event at the Cryovac facility. We demonstrated some creative cooking techniques, mostly sous vide cooking.

Overall, a good show. A different crowd for sure, one that made for some great discussion , and intense ideating. I just like that word. Is it a word?

Catering. There’s a word I hate. Not the application, just the imagery of the word. Is there a better one ?

It is a strange juxtaposition. Many of these events and shows feature my demonstration and then catered food. For the large scale, this is neccessary. BUT....

I like "cocktail cuisine", passed food, and events. There’s something igniting here, even though it sounds common.

In other random news.

The dodgers suck, really blew it last night. neatest contact of the RCA night, and I say this with all due respect to all who I met. Meeting the wife of the guy who owns Distant Replays in Atlanta. The vintage sports clothing store.

Lenny Dykstra, away jersey, Mets, size 42 , I’m just sayin...

And I hope I’m not embarassing myself with my Housewives blog, just trying to keep it real! Check it out here.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Dinner @ Shaun's

On Wednesday, Trail Blais participated in Shauns 2 year anniversary dinner. We rolled massive once again and brought 5 TB team members.

We did 2 courses.

hamachi with fried chicken feet and smoked mayonnaise ravioli ( my personal ode to both chicken of the sea and the chik-fil-A sandwich)


grilled cod with fried clams and apple cider.

it was a night of controlled chaos. Shaun Doty is one of my favorite chefs in Atlanta, and Shaun’s is one of my favorite restaurants.

The whole day made me so hungry for getting a chance to do our food in Atlanta. I am admittedly very jealous of what Shaun has there, in a good way.

I also was reminded again of how a chef needs to be in the kitchen.

In a very complimentary way, Shaun is a mean ol' dog in his kitchen.

Damn, I miss it, and it’s only been a few weeks.

Check us out today on WXIA for a quick promo piece for Taste of Atlanta. And of course catch us Sunday at noon on the main cooking stage in Atlantic Station.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Hamachi, fried chicken feet and smoked mayonnaise ravioli

One of my dishes from a charity dinner last night at Shaun's in Inman Park.  Thanks to all those that attended and team Trail Blais that rolled deep, as usual!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

The other bio

On the backside of my trip to LA, with some, well, silly, random thoughts.

Aroma. Why is the aroma industry, mainly soap, so avant garde. I mean, I cant remember the last time I came across a soap or shampoo, even candle, that was a simple flavor. I’ve personally washed my hands in Sicilian red orange, mallow and soy, and lemongrass wasabi here on my Delta flight. Maybe I’m in the wrong industry, Maybe I should just develop soap flavors...

Baseball.I’m rooting for the Dodgers in the Baseball playoffs. and the Rays in the AL. The Rays are easy, my wife’s from Tampa, and I also like their caps that read TB, for Trail Blais. But I’m a classicist at heart and since the Mets keep "pulling a Blais" at the end of the season (and since the Dodgers have great tradition) I’m pulling for Dodger Blue this fall. Also, there isn’t a cooler baseball player than Manny Ramirez. Any baseball player that dons Mark Gastineaus jersey number to play left field, not defensive end is just simply a bad ass.

Football. I have a field pass to see the Rambling Wreck Saturday. Should be fun, as I have a new friend who’s playing for Tech. Very much looking forward to seeing this game, versus Duke, who all of a sudden is winning games. I’m going to try and see if Spencer from ( ) will accompany me. Spencer BTW is a really great writer, and even if your not a college football fanatic, you should peep his site out, good stuff. Addicting.

Cocktails. They mostly suck everywhere. They may read interesting, they may try to use interesting “ kitchen” ingredients, but there just aren’t too many bars , especially restaurant bars, doing it right. I think there is a tremendous amount of impact to be made in this area of our cuisine. More to come on that.

Television. I will be blogging Real Housewives, ATL, so in preparation got hooked into a Top Design marathon. Well, not really a marathon, just Bravo’s standard scheduling. And at this point, I think Bravo should just open up a high end strip mall where you can shop for clothes, workout, get your hairs did, and eat a meal. I’m half serious with that idea. as for Top design, gotta love this guy Wisit, not only for his name but also his soft spoken Erkel demeanor.

Celebrity sighting. OK, I am so NOT LA. I was hanging at the bar next to Carlton from Fresh Prince last night. I mean, THE tap dance kid.... I thought it was cool, I’m a dork, and my wife confirmed this when I texted her.

Hotels. Mondrian in West Hollywood rocks, as well did Sky bar and Katana. Ate some black soy beans which tasted like the best popcorn, and a chicken heart which did not...

Religion. I wanted to be Jewish this week. a cool language, their own calendar, and brisket. Happy New Year! Can I work out an honorary membership ?

Fashion. I decided this week that I’m changing my image. Not sure exactly what changes will take place, but it involves easing up on the air force ones and getting some tailored garments.

Politics. Still can't stand Palin but I love Tina Fey! So I'm conflicted...

Economy. very much hoping I can get gas when I touchdown here in ATL. It’s gotta be over by now, no ?

Friday, October 3, 2008

Whiteboard 1.0

invisible ketchup. Looks like Dep hair gel, tastes like, well, ketchup. All the flavor, none of the mess

fish sauce salt shakers. We are looking to design a fish sauce shaker. say that very fast a few times.

sweet potato tots. Why not, has anyone seen these anywhere ? you would think so.

smoked mayonnaise. Look for this available on our blog very soon.

edible bubble bath. sounds kinky I know

thermo stick. An immersion stick blender equipped to heat or chill whatever it is mixing.

flavor fumes. Non aerosol atomizers filled with edible flavored propellents. Think parmesan angel hair spray.

30,000 feet and climbing

I’m on a plane heading to LA. In the spirit of full disclosure, something I hope rings through in this blog,
I’m on my way to speak to a company about running a new restaurant. I guess it’s not really full disclosure, as I am not going to mention the names behind it, but you get the point.

This is my 4th trip to LA for such a purpose. I find this interesting, in that it seems to be a hot city in the culinary market presently. I’m fielding offers and opportunities from other places as well, but LA seems to be calling much more frequently. We will see how it goes...

Last night I dreamed about FLIP, my new burger project opening in Atlanta in a few weeks.
It seems odd, not dreaming about hamburgers, although that is odd perhaps, but odd that this is in essence my simplest culinary endeavor, but the one I am most concerned and serious about.

It symbolizes a few career obstacles.

1. Overcoming the theory of a concept restaurant. It is, it’s a burger place. But I need to drive it with a chef's passion. It will be the only way to truly separate itself in the burger market. I’ve been to too many burger spots in preparing for FLIP, and none, even the ones with real chefs behind them, deliver a "chef driven" experience. Some are just "phoning it in."

2. Excelling in business operations. This thing needs to be tight, when you are talking about 200 units in the future, it must be tight. My staff has no idea how this opening could impact their lives. I do.

3. Not caring about critics ( and I use this title loosely). For as many people who are extremely excited about the opening of FLIP, there are a very small, passionate group of haters who also can’t wait. I’ll be ready for you.

So we are in the stretch run for FLIP, and I’m looking forward to being in that kitchen and experiencing what I think will be a very busy opening. Look for a creative and fun menu, at a low price point, with a modern design.

Also, please reserve a seat or two for my guest appearance cooking two courses at Shaun’s in Inman Park next Wednesday. Shaun Doty has long been a chef I have respected in Atlanta and I’m honored that he asked me to participate in his anniversary dinner.