Top Chef All-Stars Exit Interview: The Winner
Poor Padma & Co. could barely make up their minds in this squeaker of a Top Chef All-Stars finale. The judges insisted that both of our finalists were deserving of the TCAS crown, but of course only one of them could take it home. We talk with the chef-testant who topped all the other All-Stars, after the jump.
Mikey Isabella surprised everyone by making it to the final and giving Richard Blais a serious run for his money. But in the end, as most of us expected, no one could stop the Blais-meister.
ES: First things first — why would you cut the Cap’n Crunch ice cream? Who doesn’t want Cap’n Crunch ice cream?
Richard Blais: It’s actually something that I’m doing at my restaurant right now — we have a Cap’n Crunch milkshake. It’s delicious, but I just thought that the foie gras ice cream fit the whole meal a little bit better, in terms of fitting into this Tongue and Cheek concept of the restaurant.
You said last night that you willed this to happen. What did you mean by that?
I knew what the consequences of not winning felt like, and I didn’t want to go through that again. I just never let that out of my mind, and I guess that was the anxiety that you saw come across throughout the season. I just kept really focused and inspired, down to watching the 1980 US Olympic hockey team victory on the plane to the Bahamas. I wanted this really badly. I did, I willed it.
When competitors like Jen Carroll and Angelo Sosa went out earlier than expected, did you start to think this was going to be easier for you than expected?
You know, if you had asked me at the beginning who the two strongest chefs were I would have definitely said clearly Angelo and Jen Carroll, but as this thing went on I realized just how much talent there was. Everyone from 1 to 16 really is a great chef. Mike Isabella is an amazing chef. It may have seemed on TV that he just turned it on for the last few episodes, but I realized in episode 2 or 3 that he had the ability to be around until the end.
Over and over again in our Top Chef exit interviews this season, we heard the other chef-testants say that they were rooting for you. Was it important to you to be the good guy?
I don’t necessarily try to be the good guy. I’m just like a kid on Christmas morning. When I have a new toy, I want to share it with my neighbor, so I am always looking to help people. It is always a big honor to read these interviews and hear chefs who I respect enormously say that they’re rooting for me.
What are you gonna do with the $200,000?
I think the idea of the prize is to set us up to better our careers, and that’s what I’m going to do — invest in the restaurants that I have already going and that I’m planning to open, as well as some real world things like paying for my kids’ education.
We’ve heard for a while now that you are trying to expand Flip Burger Boutique to DC.
Yeah, we had a location at 7th and H that fell through and now we’re looking at a new location. Hopefully we’re within a year of opening in D.C.
We also know you had a pilot show on the Science Channel. Was that well received?
It has been well received, but perhaps not well received enough. I don’t believe it’s going to be on the Science Channel but we are talking to other networks about airing some version of the show.
Someone get this guy a TV Show!