Blais would do 'Top Chef' again despite loss

On Wednesday night, customers of Home Restaurant & Bar in Buckhead crowded around the bar television to cheer on chef Richard Blais during the finale of "Top Chef." Blais decided to watch it in his Candler Park home, accompanied by his wife and baby daughter. He has, after all, known the outcome — a loss to Chicagoan Stephanie Izard — since the show was filmed in early May.

"I didn't get home [from visiting family in New York] early enough to rush to the restaurant and watch my demise on national television," said Blais by telephone the morning after the show aired.

The 36-year-old chef, who was a leader in the competition during the entire run of the show, admitted to the judges that he "choked" when it came time for the final contest — a four-course meal that had to include fish, poultry, meat and a dessert.

The judges gave him poor marks on a pork belly dish they deemed underseasoned and too soft. Blais said he knew he was in trouble when the slab of meat arrived and was apparently from a Hogzilla-sized pig. "It was literally a different animal. I would have loved it to be like the dish I cook every day in my restaurant."

Though happy with the experience and eager to do it again if asked back, Blais refuses to indulge in any platitudes about winning and losing.

"If you're going to be in a game, you want to win," he said, adding, "I feel like I failed. I feel like I let Atlanta down."

Atlanta sure doesn't feel that way.

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