Chef Richard Blais Does His Thing At The Cheshire

By Matt Sorrell
In Food

Kind of fitting that one of the hottest new dining spots in the Lou played host to the inaugural visit from one of today’s hottest celeb chefs. That was the situation on Friday, March 29, when The Restaurant at The Cheshire played host to a dinner with chef Richard Blais, former Top Chef: All Stars winner and a fixture on other cable cooking shows, including Iron Chef. Blais was in town promoting his new cookbook, Try This At Home, and he and chefs Rex Hale, exec chef of The Restaurant, and Patrick Connolly, exec chef of Basso, put their heads together to serve up an exclusive and delicious multi-course dinner in the Upstairs space at The Restaurant at The Cheshire to celebrate, featuring wine pairings from beverage director Patricia Wamhoff. In keeping with the spirit of Good Friday, the fare served up was fish-centric. Hale put forth a delicious Hawaiian hamachi with blood orange and bits of Cuquilloi olives. The fatty fish was complemented nicely by some Chateau Ducasse, a crisp white Bourdeax. Next up was a piece of roasted halibut courtesy of Chef Connolly, augmented with tender rock shrimp, baby carrots and and an earthy, savory mushroom-miso consomme poured table-side. This dish was the perfect match for a glass of Gruet Brut Rose NV, an effervescent bubbly rose.
While these courses were both delicious, Blais pulled out all of the stops for his course. The centerpiece was a portion of fresh arctic char perfectly cooked and served on, of all things, a chorizo puree that added just a touch of smoke and a little bit of aggression to the dish. Some English peas lent some nice sweetly vegetal notes and the crisp pickled onion rings that topped the fish provided a nice textural balance, while some creme fraiche flavored with Lemonheads candy brought some sour and acid to bear on the final product. The wine paired with the char was also a bit of a surprise, a Domaine Chatelus de la Roche 2011. This rich Beaujolais totally killed the tired notion that only white wine can properly complement seafood.
During service Blais roamed the dining room, signing copies of his book and posing for pictures. While the guests finished up their meal, Blais took the mic and answered questions ranging from his first cooking job (slinging fish at McDonald’s) to his favorite curse word (undecided) to his favorite St. Louis-specific cuisine (gooey butter cake got the nod).
Afterward, guests made their way to The Market at The Cheshire next door and enjoyed a variety of passed desserts, including a multitude of cookies, ice creams, gelatos and sorbets and some bite-sized delights like strawberry cheesecake, panna cotta and lemon merengue.
Blais told the crowd he’d be back in town soon enough–hopefully that visit will also involve another chance for us to sample his cuisine!

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