In his new Food Network show "Hungry Games," Chef Richard Blais teaches, learns, and trivializes the way the food we chose is essentially chosen. On Monday October 20th, you can get in on the fun challenging your foodie awareness by tuning in but of course, we wanted you to get the details on what Hungry Games really entails. And because we love you sweet readers so much, we reached out to Blais for some answers just for you. The passion and knowledge he transmitted blew our minds just as much as his new show promises to. No worries, you can save the "thank you's" for later.
OC Weekly (Ali Lerman): So you've done Top Chef, Iron Chef America, Chopped All-Stars…which was the most challenging for you?
Richard Blais: Well we're talking competition with all of those and I'm a big runner so I like to think of them all as running different kinds of races. For example with the three you mentioned, Top Chef is a marathon, Iron Chef is a relay, and Chopped is a sprint. It depends on where your style fits but they all have their things that make them interesting. I enjoyed running all of them but I'm just glad that Hungry Games is not a race so to speak.
I think Chopped looks the hardest. Well, except for that "Kids Chopped" the other night. I could've handled that one. So to me, Hungry Games looks kind of like a myth-buster show rather than a full blown cooking show. Am I correct or not even close?
I think there's some truth to that. It's entertainment, education, trivia, fun facts, and there's cooking involved. If you like to eat, you're going to like Hungry Games. Some people like to cook so you want to learn to cook things but Hungry Games is pretty simple. If you like to eat, you're going to enjoy the things we're talking about and walk away from every episode with a fact or two that you didn't know before. It was just great to shoot and it's insane because out of all of the things that I've done, this one is really exciting because I can cue it up on the screen and show my kids. I think people will get a lot of education out of it without having to be hit over the head with it or having it be too serious.
Haha I like that you said, "If you like to eat, you'll like the show" because that means it's geared towards every single person in this world. Well done.
[Laughs.] Exactly! And I didn't say that for the marketing reason of that either! A lot of the experiments that we are doing are not just going to help people cook but also how they shop at a grocery store or eat at restaurant. The topics are so vast, it's just a lot of fun.
Let's back pedal for a second here, how did the idea for the show come together?
I'm not exactly sure who came up with it but I was lucky enough to answer the phone that day and knew I'd be a good fit for the project. And I'm glad because it's natural for me to talk about food science, psychology, have fun cooking a little bit, and also learn from some of the guests we have on the show.
And you also get to play dress up which is obviously not just loved by children anymore.
Yes! I get to dress up! It's like I'm doing this verbal interview and then someone reads it's going to look weird like, oh! And he also likes to dress up! [Laughs.] But it's really true, I do dress up. Like if we're doing an ice-cream episode, I might be dressed like an ice-cream truck driver. It's kind of fun because when we're doing some of our experiments, it's like I get to go undercover in a way. I could just be a guy in a grocery store handing out samples for the day. Whatever it is, I'm having a lot of fun with that too.
Well besides that you can clearly pull off many looks, is there something you learned while making the show that completely fascinated you?
To be honest with you, it'd be hard to pick out one or two things. As a chef, we're not thinking a lot about the psychology as a guest in a diner or a store shopper. I think that the key is that in every episode, there are multiple things. As an eternal student I'm learning quite a bit. Also, I'm someone who's been around the block so if I'm learning new things in thirty minutes, I'm guessing the average viewer is going to be pretty fascinated by the topics that we're discovering.
I saw one of the show topics was going to be about how much one would pay for pizza. I'm just wondering, how much you would personally pay?
Wow. Well I'm sitting here with my wife and we just got off the phone with our financial advisor so I would probably spend way too much for a pizza. [Laughs.] Yeah, purchasing is not my strength. I would say with the right toppings on it, I would pay forty or fifty bucks for a pizza. It someone had a big white truffle and was going to make it rain on my pizza, I would pay upwards of fifty bucks. I also think that is going to be all the rage this season, making it rain white truffles on pizza. [Laughs.] I think you and I can start that.
I'm with you, I'd pay fifty bucks to see pretty much anyone make it rain anything. Well I for one am excited for the show and I don't know if you cover pumpkin spice this season but, can you tell me why people go crazy town over pumpkin spice everything? I mean really, enough is enough.
You know that's another great idea because we don't cover that this season but, I agree with you. I'm actually talking to you from a smoothie shop with my wife right now and they have holiday spice, persimmon, pumpkin spice everything, and none of it tastes like pumpkin. It's like they just add nutmeg and potpourri. [Laughs.] Yeah, I could care less about the pumpkin spice. And…now my wife is giving me dirty looks.
Learn more about Richard on his website www.RichardBlais.net and follow him on Twitter @RichardBlais. Be sure to tune in for the premiere of Hungry Games on Food Network Monday October 20th at 8pm/7c. For more info on the show, go to www.FoodNetwork.com.