And although part of me wishes his last name was “Blaze” and he secretly fought crime with a combination of modern gastronomical techniques and hair product, that’s just not him. The guy is a beast in the kitchen, but one of the most cordial, approachable of the new rank of “food celebrities.”
How do I know this? I actually got a chance to meet the winner of Top Chef All-Stars last week at the National Pork Board’s pop-up Pork Inspiration Cafe.
But I wasn’t here for the cafe itself, as nice as it was. I was here for an exclusive cooking demonstration with Sir Richard Blais (I know it’s not in my power to knight him, but I’m going to anyway). I was also lucky enough to sample all of the dishes being presented by the cafe that day. The first, Pork Bolognese, went down so easily that I only remembered to take a picture just before licking my plate. Richard confided that bolognese is his death-bed dish, and after tasting this, I’m inclined to agree.
Mr. Blais then entered stage right to demonstrate two dishes: Pear-Brined Pork Chop and Ham & Herb Schnitzel with 6-minute Egg.
He started with the pork chop, explaining that brining is not a technique the home cook should avoid. His advice: the solution should always be about 8% salt.
When finally cooking the chop, it doesn’t hurt to use lots of fat. The pans started with some lard and ghee (Indian clarified butter), and then were continually brushed by a butter sauce. Yes, you counted right: three fats!
Another hint for cooking pork chops: think of them like steak. They don’t have to be well done, and most of the time, a little pink is not a problem. By the way, that’s cauliflower macaroni and cheese in the back there. Also FYI: it was the most ridiculously rich and delectable mac and cheese I’ve ever eaten.
Break time. Look for Part II soon, in which I discuss that schnitzel, a couple more porky things, and some very cool swag from my hour with the inimitable Richard Blais.
HELP FIGHT HUNGER! I highly encourage you to “like” the Pork Be Inspired page at Facebook.com/PorkBeInspired. Through a partnership with Feeding America, the goal is to donate 125,000 servings of fresh pork to families in need.