At last night’s Eat+Pray+Heal benefit for Japan, Grub Street caught up with a still-wide-eyed Richard Blais, the recently crowned winner of Top Chef All-Stars, to find out what he’s working on these days. “Obviously more TV, restaurants, and a book” are on the agenda, he says. “I think that’s every chef’s big trifecta.” He also told us that he’s toyed with the idea of using his winnings to open a restaurant here in New York: “I’d love, as a native New Yorker, to get back to New York. That’s something I would really want to do.”
Blais is so busy these days that he almost didn’t make it to the event, which was held at the Bowery Hotel and organized by Top Chef season-one contestant Candice Kumai. He happened to be in town from Atlanta for an event with the National Pork Board, so he wasn’t able to cook anything, as most of the other Top Chef alums in attendance did. Still, when it came time for speeches, he didn’t shy away from taking a gleeful pot shot at All-Stars runner-up Mike Isabella: “I didn’t cook anything tonight, but I’m sure whatever Mike’s making, I influenced it,” he said, referencing a supposed incident of culinary plagiarism on the show, which drew a roar from the crowd of Top Chef fans.
What Isabella made was a tuna crudo with pine nuts and aged balsamic vinegar. Angelo Sosa, meanwhile, took a break from posing for pictures and chatting up the ladies present to put together a tomato-curry soup. But at one point things took on the tone of an elimination challenge gone awry, as many guests stood around food-less while others pounced on trays as soon as they emerged from the kitchen. We overheard one hungry patron grumble about the lack of food before shrugging his shoulders and concluding, “Oh well. It’s for charity.” Thankfully, that seemed to be the evening’s prevailing mood.