This probably won't be a very popular sentiment in the Top Chef blogosphere, but we aren't exactly all aboard the Richard Blais bandwagon. Sure, Blais is a true Jedi in the kitchen, and he has an affable personality that shines through both on his happier Top Chef days and his thoroughly entertaining culinary science show, Blais Off.
Competition mode Richard Blais, however, comes off as awfully petulant and crazy neurotic. After all, if Angelo's hubris and bizarre "fashion" sense are open to critique, and Marcel's foams and overall jackass-ness are fair territory for lambasting, is it not only fair that we point out some cracks in the Blais veneer?
1. The Smirk
KY: It covers a universal range of his emotions. Is he confused? Is he disappointed? Is he incredulous? All of the above.
MM: I addressed his crazy sad judges panel face very briefly last week, but yes. NUMBER ONE on the list. Number effing one. To quote Dazed and Confused, "Wipe that face off your head," Blais. It's creepy. It's tragic. And it makes me irritated that he can't take a freakin' compliment when it's given because he's so stupidly stressed out about losing. HE'S GOT HIS OWN FUCKING TV SHOW! This show is a bonus, Hoss, loosen up.
2. Pet Status
KY: And he stressed his poor wife out too! Dude, she's carrying your child. She doesn't need your neuroses right now. It's made even worse because every single week, his neurosis is rewarded. He's like the judge's pet. I think they even joke about him being the "teacher's pet" on the Top Chef website.
MM: I'm over the chef's pet BS. He's established that he's good. He's also established that his personal life can either jack him up or inspire him. It's human nature. Just because he's the mad scientist doesn't make everything he prepares exciting and adventurous, or forgive little mistakes that would get other people axed. Frankly, I wonder if they're just scared he'll make the creepy sad face and they aim to pacify.
3. Enough With the Liquid Nitrogen
KY: Even on a ferry with no liquid nitrogen tanks in sight, he busts out the freeze-dried food. Oh, the humanity.
MM: Man, I loved how he outsmarted that vending machine in Real Genius (just kidding, though Blais does have some Val Kilmer hair going on), but the novelty is wearing off. It's like Marcel and all the foams, except people told Marcel they were sick of foam and to stop doing it (see also: Jamie's scallops). Why is no one but us tired of the liquid nitrogen shtick?
4. Framing Him for the Win
KY: Are we the only ones who notice that? Maybe the judges feel bad for when he choked his original season, but this season, some of his dishes, i.e. the deconstructed hot dog, looked downright unappetizing. The judges, however, reacted like it was something out of the Per Se kitchen.
With the elimination of Dale and Angelo, it feels like they've cleared the path for his "rightful" coronation. It's a shame. The show started off with so much prospective excitement. It's like the Oscars, now. Predictable. Our best hope for any action is a possible Carla-upset.
MM: I agree that it seems as if the path was completely cleared as if to redeem him from his nervous-dad-to-be breakdown in his original final. But we still have the Black Hammer of Antonia, and the love food of Carla to freeze him out if he stumbles. (Get it? Liquid nitrogen reference, thanks.) Of course, there is the creepy sad face and that could scare them all off. Fortunately, if there is to be a Blais coronation, he already has a hair crown.
KY: Ha. Hair crown.
5. He Looks Better Than Before?! That's Not Fair! (Officially a joke.)
MM:I do like his hair better than the old fauxhawk, for sure. Now, I'm not aiming to be superficial here, but with regard to cheffery, tasting, eating, etc, he's one of the few older (meaning from seasons further back) contestants who got fit since we'd seen them last. It makes me wonder if he eats his own food anymore, since he runs a burger joint?
KY: It's the liquid nitrogen diet.
6. Sore Losing
MM: And, speaking of losing, he's a terrible loser. Terrible loser. Terrible loser. I don't know which is worse, that he's such a terrible, bitter loser ("She won with sliced oranges?!" [exasperated face] Yes, because it tasted better than your hot dog sandwich.) or that he is such a sheepish, untrusting winner.
KY: If Richard loses, he's like, "Whaa?! How did I NOT win? The judges are stupid!" [Disbelief smirk.] He predicts his imminent loss before every judge's table, but if he comes in second, he CAN'T BELIEVE HE DIDN'T WIN.
7. Lack of Confidence...Or Is It?
MM: Speaking of his prejudging terrors, I really want to hope that he has some sort of short-term memory loss that renders him incapable of remembering that he has never been actually gunned down by a judges' firing squad, and that for the most part his ass has been coddled and kissed. If last week's sea bean love fest wasn't enough proof that he needs to do something to quell the self-indulgent -- because that's totally what it is -- self-doubt, I don't know what is.
KY: Is it self-doubt? Because at times it comes off as false insecurity and modesty. Blais is the kid in class who always freaks out and says they didn't study enough, but then would get their test back with a big fat "A" on it.
MM: Or, conversely, acts as though he's terribly put-out until he gets the positive feedback. When Paula Deen was a Quickfire judge his first reaction to her seemed to smack of irritation. He doesn't cook fried, waaaah. Then he won her praise and lit up like a cookie-getting toddler. In the end he talked about how cooking for her was a huge honor. It reeked of TV posturing and self-branding awareness. Sort of like, oops, I acted like a shit toward the beloved butter maven...I better make sure to overdo the compliments later so no one remembers the first round.
8. We'd Love to Hate Him...But We Can't
KY: The worst part is it's impossible to openly hate him throughout a full episode. Unlike a Marcel or a past season Angelo (who both made it really easy to hate them), Richard will redeem himself with something endearing, like a witty quip during talking heads, his BFF status with the lovable Fabio, or the damned fried bone marrow. He has an adorable pregnant wife (albeit, whom he badgers), and his mom just passed away. It is very sad and even more reason for us to root for him. Was it inevitable gospel that we were supposed to root for Blais, after all? He's probably a really great guy who makes darned tasty food, but as viewers who don't ever get to taste the food, the blatant favoritism takes away any intrigue and allure the Top Chef All Stars season initially promised.
MM: What she said...plus a creepy sad face added in for good measure, because I just realized that much of his attitude might stem from being called Dick Blais as a child.
Keep the Dallas Observer Free... Since we started the Dallas Observer, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Dallas, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Dallas with no paywalls.