Besha Rodell: Okey Dokes. Super exciting...how did this come about?
Richard Blais: It came about quite organically. Todd Rushing sent me a text the night I won "Top Chef" saying congrats. I said we should chat. The three of us met [Blais, Rushing and Amick] and they already had a space, And I enjoyed my time with them at One Midtown Kitchen. We hashed out a plan over a few meetings, and here we are.
BR: Are you a partner? I'm assuming so...how is the relationship different now than it was when you worked for Concentrics before?
RB: Yes, I am a partner. The relationship is different because of the partnership. They've always been great employers, now they'll be great partners. They respect my vision, I've always respected their operations. They have contributed a great deal to the dining scene here. They also have the management and operational foundation that I don't. We both are bringing much to the table.
BR: From the statement I saw it seems like you're planning on spending a lot of time in the kitchen. Do you see this as a more hands on chef gig than Flip etc? Will you have an executive chef there or will that be your title alone?
RB: I will be the executive chef. I'll also continue my role at Flip. Flip and HD have always had executive chefs. Mark Nanna is directing culinary operations on the ground for all Flip locations. Jared Pyles will be the executive chef at HD-1. It's always been that way. I have amazing partners at Flip and I'm happy that all of my partners have been supportive of me, every step of the way over the last few years.
But yes, this will be my restaurant.
BR: Is this going to be a themed spot, or just your food, whatever you want to do?
RB: There won't be a theme. I can tell you I'll be focusing on sourcing great ingredients. Cooking food people want to eat and order again, not just declare interesting. I can tell you it will cost less than it should. And I can tell you I'm looking at it as my first restaurant opportunity in Atlanta. I have much to prove. I'm going to push hard. I'm not taking anything for granted. Atlanta doesn't owe me anything, I owe Atlantans a quality eatery.
BR: Any other projects on the horizon apart from HD and expanding Flip? Oh, and um...that's a LOT!! Any worries about stretching yourself too thin?
RB: Flip is in the
throwsthroes of expansion and I'm a big part of that. HD opens in the summer, and then this new place will open in winter. As far as restaurants, that's it for the next year. But more news to come soon on other fronts. Yes, I'm worried, but you've seen me on TV. I always worry...
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