Photo Courtesy of Richard Blais

The California Questionnaire: Richard Blais

While probably most recognizable as the winner of Bravo’s Top Chef: All-Stars, Richard Blais is also the wildly creative and irreverent executive chef of San Diego’s Juniper & Ivy and The Crack Shack, his new casual eatery devoted to elevating the chicken and egg back to their rightful high culinary perch.

Blais, who resides in SoCal with his wife, Jazmin, and their two daughters, Riley and Embry, graduated from the Culinary Institute of America, and went on to train at world-class restaurants like The French Laundry, Daniel, Chez Panisse, and el Bulli. When he’s not behind the stove or appearing as a recurring judge on Top Chef, Blais can be found training for his next marathon or working on his next cookbook. Blais agreed to take the 10-query California Questionnaire, revealing his favorite Golden State splurge and how his dream day might unfold.

1. Where do you live? Del Mar, California. Where the surf meets the turf.

2. Why there? The Pacific Ocean’s my backyard, and there are amazing public schools for my kids. 

3. What’s your greatest California love? The terrain. Nothing compares to the scale and scope of a few hours’ drive in California. From desert to snowy mountains to farmland to the Pacific Coast, California has it all when it comes to nature!

4. What is the biggest misperception about Californians? That we have major traffic. You see, the key is the 605. If you take the 605 and stay away from the 5…and limit your time on the 101…

5. What is the stereotype that most holds true? That we are all fit and gorgeous. ;)

6. What is your favorite Golden State splurge? A weekend of eating and hiking in the Bay Area.

7. Time for a road trip—where are you going? Big Sur, up and down, this is where my California soul lives. With elephant seals and bears…

8. If you could decree an official state culinary experience, what would it be?Probably In-N-Out Burger Day! Followed, of course, by a day where we’d only eat food from one of our many local farmers’ markets.

9. Best California song? For me, the first time I ever drove across the Golden Gate Bridge—in a convertible, mind you—“Hotel California” came on the radio. So, personally, it’s kind of a big deal for me. Then again, there’s Dr. Dre and Tupac…

10. How would your California dream day unfold? Beach sunrise and run with the Navy SEALs on Coronado in San Diego. Then a drive up scenic Highway One to have lunch at Nepenthe in Big Sur. Continuing on to San Francisco for a baseball game, provided the Dodgers are in town, and dinner in the Mission District. After that, I’d find a perfect little bed and breakfast somewhere between Point Reyes and Mendocino to nightcap it all. The next day, we’d do it all again in reverse!