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Blais on fire ... the latest on the greatest ...


Gifted Gourmet
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Every production of genius must be the production of enthusiasm.

-- Benjamin Disraeli

Reporting this through mixed emotions ... and the source is an extremely reliable one ... Richard Blais, our local culinary talent, is expected to soon be joining the culinary scene in Miami's South Beach to work on a few new projects .. this is decidedly a loss to the local Atlanta dining scene.

We have a number of topics from impressed members who have eaten his exceptional creations:

Blais: 17 course degustation, $49, in Atlanta ?, Laundry, Bulli, Alum Makes Good

the One Midtown Kitchen discussion

Blais on Iron Chef America

in search of Blais

and, perhaps best of all, the insights offered by Blais in his interview with Food and Wine Magazine

What's your favorite new ingredient?

We have a techno-organic approach, meaning we do both traditional and experimental food. We use methylcellulose to make scrambled mangoes with tuna tartare. It thickens liquids to form a gel, which makes the mango juice look like scrambled eggs. On the other hand, I love Berkshire pigs from Riverview Farms in northern Georgia. We get the whole hog. We'll prepare the loin sous vide, cure the belly with sugar and cider, and make a pâté that we serve with mustard ice cream and juiced cornichons, thickened with xanthan gum.

Melissa Goodman aka "Gifted Gourmet"

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Good call, Mel. Barton G is his destination. According to the press release:

Barton G., the Miami-based international events design, production and management company that also owns and operates Barton G. The Restaurant, one of South Beach’s most celebrated restaurants, has named Richard Blais culinary creative director, effective July 24. 
. . . Blais, who first burst upon the national culinary consciousness with the Atlanta’s eponymous Blais . . . regards Barton G. as  the perfect environment to nurture his devotion to new technology and further refine his use of global ingredients, sous vide cooking, liquid nitrogen and science.     

“. . . There’s a culture at Barton G. that encourages experimentation, embraces the unexpected and dismisses the mundane,” enthuses Blais.  “It’s exactly the environment that fosters the kind of creative freedom I have always wanted to exercise.”

Further down:

Blais will be charged with bringing new ideas and innovations to the Barton G. table, for off-premise catering, at Barton G.’s exclusive venues, for the current South Beach restaurant and for future restaurant projects currently under consideration.

Dave Scantland
Executive director
dscantland@eGstaff.org
eG Ethics signatory

Eat more chicken skin.

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Thanks for this update, Dave ... I must say that I am thoroughly impressed and not really surprised at this stroke of good fortune for Blais ... he knows cuisine so thoroughly and has such a deft hand with creativity. I have never forgotten the meals I ate when he opened his restaurant in Buckhead ... innovative didn't really begin to describe his work ...

We here in Atlanta wish him well in this new, exciting endeavor!

Melissa Goodman aka "Gifted Gourmet"

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Richard,

Do NOT go to Miami! There's too much sun, too much sand, too many babes and too much rum......

John Malik

Chef/Owner

33 Liberty Restaurant

Greenville, SC

www.33liberty.com

Customer at the carving station: "Pardon me but is that roast beef rare?"

Apprentice Cook Malik: "No sir! There's plenty more in the kitchen!"

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John, looks like Blais and his new bride, Jazmin, will be going to Miami and exploring almost all of the above items in your post ... almost being the operative word here.

Forgot to add some Blais website info:

blaiscuisine news

some of Blais' plates

Melissa Goodman aka "Gifted Gourmet"

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I have long intended to experience the tasting menu at One Midtown Kitchen, but I am almost never in Atlanta on Monday or Tuesday night. Now it appears I may have waited too long, as I have no plan to ever be in Miami. Is Chef Blais gone, or do I have a couple Mondays left to get up there?

"Eat at Joe's."

- Joe

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Is Chef Blais gone, or do I have a couple Mondays left to get up there?

He will be moving in mid-July so don't waste any time .. go now while there is still time to experience this genius in action .. next time will be in Miami ...

Melissa Goodman aka "Gifted Gourmet"

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  • 6 months later...

Chef Blais has concluded his stay in Miami. In the near-term, he's doing some consulting work and considering his options -- NYC? Back to Atlanta (we can hope)? He's also launched a mobile cooking school (called Food Grade) for the "modern culinary arts." There's a little more information here.

Dave Scantland
Executive director
dscantland@eGstaff.org
eG Ethics signatory

Eat more chicken skin.

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Chef Blais has concluded his stay in Miami. In the near-term, he's doing some consulting work and considering his options -- NYC? Back to Atlanta (we can hope)? He's also launched a mobile cooking school (called Food Grade) for the "modern culinary arts." There's a little more information here.

Upon a quick inspection of the link provided, I thought the map was of lower Manhatten :laugh: , but it is Miami Beach. I never realized the similarities before. I will follow this with interest though, as Chef Blais' cooking is somme that I very much wish to experience for myself.

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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  • 2 months later...

Chef Blais is working on Elevation, a new restaurant adjacent to McCollum Field in Kennesaw, scheduled to open in June or July. Expect an open kitchen with a seasoned crew and a bistro-oriented menu designed by Blais from the ground up, incorporating his characteristic style: expert execution, technology in the service of flavor, and always some wit.

Dave Scantland
Executive director
dscantland@eGstaff.org
eG Ethics signatory

Eat more chicken skin.

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By interesting location, I assume you mean horrid (for us ITP'ers anyway). So is Blais going to be cooking here or just managing? Any chance for a return of his famous tasting menu?

Edited by Voodoo (log)
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It's no less horrid for you than Blais/Bazaar/O.MK were for us OTPers -- nevertheless we comprise a significant portion of One's clientele. Of course, you can get a good artisanal cheese course at Aqua Terra in Buford; in Norcross, Grace 17.20 is totally committed to local sourcing and seasonality; 5 Seasons North (Alpharetta) is a hybrid of brewpub and organic restaurant that's a little startling outside of Virginia Highlands or Little Five Points. So why not a subversively molecular bistro in Kennesaw?

To answer Voodoo's questions (I can't speak for the Chef, though obviously I've spoken to him): yes, Blais will be cooking at Elevation, at least when it opens. But let's not forget that he subscribes to the executive model: a good head chef installs systems and trains people to ensure consistency and quality regardless of who's tending the stove -- or the LN2 tank. I don't think you'll see a reprise of the One tasting menu scenario. What seems more likely is a menu of small dishes at a dining bar, available to all comers. Presumably the menu would change with availability and seasonality of ingredients, not to mention whim and invention.

Dave Scantland
Executive director
dscantland@eGstaff.org
eG Ethics signatory

Eat more chicken skin.

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ITP clearly was not ready for him. While Kennesaw has not boomed like other parts of the Northside, Blais is following the trend of most of the top new restaurants opening OTP.

I think the OTPers will appreciate his talents much more than the intowners disguised as empty seats ever did. Good move rB.

Nobody eats at that restaurant anymore. It's always too crowded.

---Yogi Berra

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Unless I'm mistaken, One.Midtown.Kitchen was doing quite well with Blais at the helm among foodies and the masses alike. They were churning out both great, interesting food and filling up the dining room. All in a somewhat peculiar location. Can't comment on Blais' eponymous restaurant since I had never heard of it until after it closed. If Blais has more success in Kennesaw than in Buckhead, I doubt it has anything to do with the clientele in the area. More likely, it will be because of his fame and name recognition as well as increased business savvy as a result of his ups and downs over the past five years.

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access atlanta (requires free registration)

....restaurant and then at One Midtown Kitchen, is back in town after introducing Miami to the notion of a liquid nitrogen bar.

Tapping a 180-liter canister of pressurized liquid nitrogen, Blais collects a gallon or so in a container that immediately frosts and sends a witches' brew of steam through the air.

"Bring me a pluche of chervil," he calls to Sigler. He swishes the herb through the nitro, and it emerges frozen in mid-droop as a cartoon villain hit with an ice gun.

"The flavor is now a thousand times more intense," Blais says with glee.  Next up: pureed oyster from a pipette. He fishes them out with a tea strainer, and says, "See. Just like Dippin' Dots!"

Yet the most impressive demonstration is instant ice cream. Blais sets an ice cream base whipping in a food processor and pours liquid nitrogen directly into the mixture. Within seconds it is transformed into an unctuous, creamy, frozen treat.

Blais -- who consults with restaurants and is looking for a spot of his own -- also uses chemicals once the stuff of laboratories rather than kitchens.

Melissa Goodman aka "Gifted Gourmet"

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  • 2 weeks later...

A bit more on Blais's current project:

At the moment, it's just a box, empty except for the hoods, which were installed before he signed on (the ductwork went in last week). This is the view from the eventual greeting stand, looking back toward the kitchen, which will be open:

gallery_6393_4459_27312.jpg

That's intern Jeff Sigler standing off to the left, about where the aforementioned eating bar will be. When I say open, I mean open -- the pass will be halfway between Jeff and the hood.

Here's the view from the eating bar. The runway is about 50 yards in the distance (those with really sharp eyes will recognize Creflo A. Dollar's Gulfstream in the hangar on the other side of the field). The guy kneeling in the foreground is welding the risers for the interior staircase.

gallery_6393_4459_6609.jpg

Back corner opposite the entry, to give you an idea of the space. From here, you can see that the restaurant is two stories with an atrium that will open over the downstairs cocktail bar. The upstairs will have its own bar, and will be available for events:

gallery_6393_4459_3683.jpg

And for those of you who've never seen one, here's a casket for a Transformer -- I mean, a virgin grease trap:

gallery_6393_4459_15360.jpg

I picked up a couple of other interesting tidbits.

  • The kitchen will be all-electric. This is due to some airport/electric company arithmetic that I'm still trying to decipher, coupled with an inability to bring in a natural gas line, which would have meant an ugly and energy-deficient propane tank. The bottom line is that going electric saves tens of thousands of dollars in up-front costs.
  • A probable menu item, the restaurant's signature burger: eight ounces of freshly-ground 75/25 beef, seasoned and slow-cooked for a few hours, then finished on a sizzle plate or in a small pan over a wood fire. It will be served on a soft bun (think steamed Chinese-style) with homemade pickles (including plenty of fresh onion in the mix), mayonnaise made with rendered chorizo oil, and hand-cut fries tossed in chopped dill. To go with it: a seasonal milkshake (peach-white truffle malt was mentioned) flash blended with liquid nitrogen.

Dave Scantland
Executive director
dscantland@eGstaff.org
eG Ethics signatory

Eat more chicken skin.

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Looks really cool.  But it's in an airport?  Anyone from the area or more familiar with the project care to explain?

Great attribute for a destination restaurant! :laugh:

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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Looks really cool.  But it's in an airport?  Anyone from the area or more familiar with the project care to explain?

Great attribute for a destination restaurant! :laugh:

Exactly. I used to date a guy who had his own small plane, and when we went on a date it was not infrequently via plane (we lived in Charlottesville, VA) and typically to an airport that had its own restaurant. Apparently this practice was pretty common, and pilots compared the relative merits of airport restaurants n the area.

So the restaurants enjoy a certain amount of "drive by" custom. And well-heeled custom at that, as this sort of airport serves charters and private owners.

The restaurant's located in the metro Atlanta area, in Kennesaw, so not an unreasonable drive for those of us who live way, way in town. And it would be even faster by helicopter. :wink:

Can you pee in the ocean?

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Somebody actually did a restaurant guidebook targeted at private pilots, however I can't recall the title and my Google skills have failed me.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Looks really cool.  But it's in an airport?  Anyone from the area or more familiar with the project care to explain?

Great attribute for a destination restaurant! :laugh:

. . . .

So the restaurants enjoy a certain amount of "drive by" custom. And well-heeled custom at that, as this sort of airport serves charters and private owners.

The restaurant's located in the metro Atlanta area, in Kennesaw, so not an unreasonable drive for those of us who live way, way in town. And it would be even faster by helicopter. :wink:

Good call, therese. There actually is talk of a midtown helicopter shuttle! Start saving up -- the fare is likely to be about $250, round-trip (no in-flight meal).

Yes, this will be the only restaurant at McCollum Field, unless you count the vending machines in the Northside Aviation building, which seem to be empty a great deal of the time. As a result, part of the restaurant's business plan includes packaging in-flight meals for general aviation customers (the industry term for charter and private flying). From what I've been able to glean, this is a desperately underserved market, at least at this airport. But that brings up the whole set of economics that drive general aviation. As therese has alluded, this is an economic and culinary sector that flies (sorry) under the radar. I'll be happy to expound more, if anyone is interested.

Blais and his investors seem to be interested in more than just the traffic that plane owners can provide, though. They're trying to create a destination restaurant (thanks, Doc!) in the thriving area that surrounds the place. It's a high-income region that -- right now -- is served mostly by chain dining options, though nearby Marietta offers some interesting fare. And as we've seen, suburbanites will drive into town for great food. The question is, will city-dwellers do the opposite?

Dave Scantland
Executive director
dscantland@eGstaff.org
eG Ethics signatory

Eat more chicken skin.

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Blais and his investors seem to be interested in more than just the traffic that plane owners can provide, though. They're trying to create a destination restaurant (thanks, Doc!) in the thriving area that surrounds the place. It's a high-income region that -- right now -- is served mostly by chain dining options, though nearby Marietta offers some interesting fare. And as we've seen, suburbanites will drive into town for great food. The question is, will city-dwellers do the opposite?

If its great enough they will come from the city and beyond. Blue Hill at Stone barns is an example of that in New York, The French Laundry and Manresa are examples in California and El Bulli is an example in Spain.

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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