Richard Blais (and a Giveaway!)

February 26, 2013

We're sitting down with our favorite writers and cooks to talk about their upcoming cookbooks, their best food memories, and just about anything else.

Today: We talk to Richard Blais, chef, restaurateur and author of Try This at Home, a book about modern cuisine and home cooking -- plus, a giveaway!

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Ever since his first appearance on Top Chef, we've watched Richard Blais, liquid nitrogen in tow, open thriving restaurants and show us the tricks and treasures of modern cuisine. Now, we couldn't be more excited to talk to the man behind the canister. We caught a moment with him -- between dressing his kids and heading off to the kicthen -- to chat about his new book, Try This at Home. While he may be best known for esoteric techniques and contemporary recipes, Try This at Home proves that his real passion lies in making tasty food that the whole family can enjoy. Blais gave us some tips on how to bring the professional kitchen into the home, and shared his favorite cooking techniques and toys. Now we want an immersion circulator, too.

1. You're famous for your food science. What is its presence like in your new book? Does every recipe have a scientific slant?
Am I?? That’s awful. There are some recipes that get into some basic modern techniques but I wanted to showcase that I do more than cook with liquid nitrogen. 95% of the book is stuff you can and should 'try at home,’ demystifying the transition from the professional kitchen to the home kitchen. I want to show that modern food is not so hard. In general, the book is about how to cook tasty, simple food at home. Some recipes use a couple modern ingredients, like xantham gum, which is great for sauces, or lecithin, but both of those are available in the vitamin aisle of Whole Foods. I’m not always cooking with nitrogen; I also cook with salt and pepper and make pasta and cook food on the grill. I like to cook food that everyone in the family can love.
2. Explain molecular gastronomy's transition from a professional kitchen to the home. Is there still hope for the science geek who does not own an immersion circulator?
Enough with the words “molecular gastronomy.” It's a term that was created by scientists that the media caught onto, but the word itself is not very appealing and doesn’t get people excited about the food I cook or our restaurants. I think “modern” or “alternative” is a more fitting description. That being said, everybody should have an immersion circulator. It’s a way to cook perfectly. The tool actually has more application in the home kitchen than the professional kitchen. It can be a tremendous advantage for the home cook because it is designed to cook precisely and without human error. Say you’re throwing a dinner party for 12 people and you’re grilling ribeye.  You can put the steaks in the circulator and then you only have to throw them on the grill for a few minutes.  It’s easier, you get perfect results, and you can have more time with your guests. And, you can go into most kitchen appliance stores and buy one for a much better price than they used to be. It’s a different way to think about cooking.
3. All fancy gadgets aside, what is your favorite, stripped-down meal?
Pasta Bolognese or a cheeseburger.
4. If you could recommend one skill or technique for a beginning cook to learn first, above all others, what would it be?
Season well, taste always and use acidity like vinegar and citrus juice.
5. What is your least favorite food? Is there anything you won't eat?
I like most everything, but no insects please, they give me the shivers.

The Giveaway!

Want to win a copy of Try This at Home? (That is, if you didn't pre-order a copy already...) Answer the question below in the comments section of this post by Tuesday, March 4th at 2pm EST:

What's your favorite comfort food of all time?

We'll pick 5 random winners and contact you by email -- best of luck!

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Arin_Will
  • ravdeepj
  • littleburnt
  • jeanmarieok
  • Michael Bennett
    Michael Bennett
Alex Lampert

Written by: Alex Lampert

I love beans, bikes, brown liquor and all things green. I am the salad queen. My modus operandi of late is working on long-term curing and fermenting projects.


Arin_Will April 10, 2013
Roasted Butternut squash pasta with sage, thyme, brown butter.
ravdeepj March 4, 2013
rice and beans, with a fried egg on top.
littleburnt March 3, 2013
If vietnamese food, than pho or chao (congee), and non-vietnamese would probably have to be tacos!
jeanmarieok March 3, 2013
Something with gravy. Roast chicken/pot roast/ mashed potatoes, even french fries - add gravy and I feel better already!
Michael B. March 3, 2013
Jenna P. March 3, 2013
Ultimate comfort food- Mac and cheese
SSSV March 3, 2013
Fondue. It has to be fondue. Seriously. Cheese. Bread. Wine. Maybe some sausage, broccoli, red potatoes....
Amanda P. March 2, 2013
spring rolls with nuoc cham
Angela W. March 2, 2013
Nothing says comfort like a big bowl of pasta! Wether it was nana's homemade mac and cheese or the smoked squid and rigatoni served at The Spence (AMAZING DISH) .....a great bowl of pasta can be like receiving a warm hug. :-)
Daisycat March 1, 2013
any dessert
NikkiD March 1, 2013
My go-to comfort food is my family's recipe for stuffing. I know Some people think it's just for Thanksgiving, but trust me, it's not :)
Ashley M. March 1, 2013
My favorite comfort food is macaroni and cheese.
AATL March 1, 2013
Spaghetti and meatballs, homemade of course!
arjun March 1, 2013
i'm going to have to go with richard and say a cheeseburger.
Laura D. March 1, 2013
My favorite comfort food is wild king salmon!
Maddie S. March 1, 2013
Anything with goat cheese and pasta is my comfort food.
Sandi M. March 1, 2013
I love mac-n-cheese! It is the ultimate comfort food with the cheese and creaminess!! I have never met a mac-n-cheese I havent liked!!
Lori D. March 1, 2013
Pasta with broccoli rabe, italian sausage, hot red pepper flakes, olive oil & pecorino romano cheese.
Alisha D. March 1, 2013
My grandmother's biscuits and tomato gravy!
Ed G. March 1, 2013
Hands down, it has to be a good Mac n' cheese!