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.
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!