Richard Blais trained under phenomenal chefs from Thomas Keller at The French Laundry, Daniel Boloud and Ferran Adria and then took the runner up spot on Top Chef's fourth season. Seasons later, he won Top Chef: All Stars. Richard continues to be a judge on Top Chef as well as a number of guest appearances on Food Network. In addition, his successful restaurants include: Juniper & Ivy and The Crack Shack.
With the holidays starting this month, we wanted to talk with Richard about what we should have on hand in our cabinets, how can we make great leftovers, and what he is up to that we should keep an eye out for.
ATHLEISURE MAG: With the holidays coming up, what are ingredients that are always good to have on hand regardless of whether we’re making our appetizers, mains, sides and desserts?
RICHARD BLAIS: Salt is a given! My personal favorite is Morton Fine Sea Salt as it gives any dish – appetizer, main, side or dessert – that additional flavor boost needed to upgrade your Thanksgiving meal.
AM: What is the key to proper planning when making our holiday meals?
RB: Getting ahead! Don’t be afraid to start the work a week ahead if possible! Stock, sauce, gravy, cutting vegetables, and getting as much done in advance of the day of eating!!!
AM: What are common ingredients that can be used for sweet and savory dishes that we may be surprised to know?
RB: Salt of course really wakes up any dessert! I love cinnamon in savory dishes as well!
AM: After an epic holiday meal, how can we breathe life back into our turkey in a new way for leftovers?
RB: I’m a big fan of upcycling your Thanksgiving leftovers. The go-to at my house is to take dinner’s leftover sweet potatoes and turn them into breakfast waffles. My kids are big fans of this too!
Leftover Sweet Potato Waffles
2 ¼ cups all purpose flour
1 tbsp baking powder
3 tbsp sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp Morton® Fine Sea Salt
1 cup cooked mashed sweet potato (recipe below)
1/2 cup melted butter
2 cups milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs, separated
1 cup Pomegranate seeds
1 cup toasted, Pumpkin seeds
1 cup your favorite granola (or recipe below)
1.5 cups crème fraiche, whipped (or whipped cream)
2 tsp apple pie spice
1 tsp Morton® Coarse Ground Sea Salt
· Preheat your waffle iron and spray with nonstick cooking spray.
· In a large bowl mix together the flour, baking powder, Morton® Fine Sea Salt, sugar and cinnamon.
· Beat the egg whites in a mixer or with a whisk, until stiff peaks form. Set aside.
· In a medium bowl whisk together the milk, vanilla, melted butter and egg yolks.
· Add wet mixture to the dry mixture and stir until fully incorporated.
· Fold in sweet potato and egg whites.
· Spray all sides of waffle iron with nonstick cooking spray, pour batter into waffle iron so that it fills the shell completely.
· Close waffle iron lid and wait for notification that it is finished (likely, a beep)
· Open iron and remove hot waffle.
· Serve with a handful of pomegranate, pumpkin seeds, granola, and a dollop of crème fraiche, as desired.
· Finish with a dusting of apple pie spice and Morton® Coarse Sea Salt.
Mashed Potato Recipe
1 ea large sweet potato
1 tsp Morton Kosher Salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 tsp olive oil
· Preheat oven to 350 F.
· Rub sweet potato with Morton Kosher Salt, black pepper and olive oil and wrap tightly in aluminum foil.
· Bake in a baking dish in the oven for 35-40 minutes, or until fork tender.
· Remove from oven, peel once cool enough to touch, and mash with a fork.
2 cups rolled oats
1 cup slivered almonds
¼ cup honey
¾ tsp Morton® Coarse Sea Salt
1 tbsp browned butter
· Preheat oven to 250F.
· Mix all ingredients in a large bowl and pour into a baking dish.
· Cook for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes to toast evenly.
· Remove from oven and let cool.
· Use handful of granola to top the waffle, as desired.
AM: What does a Richard Blais Thanksgiving meal look like?
RB: A few variations of turkey! A traditional roasted one and then something experimental for that year. This year I’m in Italy, so maybe porchetta for thanksgiving! And lots of sides! Mac and cheese, braised greens, homemade bread, but always CANNED cranberry jelly! Don’t judge!
AM: What tips do you have in making a moist turkey that guests will enjoy?
RB: The key to a moist, flavorful turkey – it’s all about the brine! Brining really helps to lock in the birds’ natural juices. My tips on bringing – ask Alexa. With the Alexa skill, Morton Brine Time, you simply call out for help and you get step-by-step answers to all your brining questions.
AM: We know that you enjoy truffle hunting – any tips that you can give us when we have the opportunity to do so?
RB: You need time, a good guide, and an amazing dog. I’m no expert, but I forage regularly in California for all sorts of wild foods, and I recommend it as a fun family hiking activity. Just know what you are grabbing and consult a field book, or expert always!
AM: We know that you are a busy guy with a number of restaurants, appearing on shows etc., but when you’re home, where would we find you grabbing a bite/cocktail, working out and doing a little shopping?
RB: I travel so much I feel like it’s hard to pin down a routine, but I call North County San Diego home. You can find me running a trail or foraging when I’m not in the restaurants.
PHOTOS COURTESY | RICHARD BLAIS