Why Richard Blais Thinks Everyone Should Have Food Competitions At Home - Exclusive

Richard Blais is a chef, cookbook author, and food television fixture who can currently be seen working as a mentor and judge on the Fox competition show "Next Level Chef." In an exclusive interview with Mashed, he shared tips for novice home cooks looking to up their game in the kitchen. Some of his advice, like learning simple yet flavorful Roman pasta dishes, was the type of guidance you'd expect from any celebrity chef. But he had one novel idea you might not have thought of: Why not try hosting your own version of "Next Level Chef?"

Blais said, "I think people should play these types of games at home. What I mean by that is set the clock for 20 minutes, come home, maybe have your whole family play together. You don't have to be competitive unless you're like my family and then you want to really, really be competitive. And then just open up the fridge and you're done at 25 minutes."

By adding the urgency and limitations of the competition show format to your home cooking, you'll develop some necessary kitchen skills, including time management and the ability to work under pressure. In addition, these sorts of challenges are fun activities to do with your family and friends; they transform cooking from a tedious chore to an exciting game. 

Limitations breed creativity

Richard Blais also pointed out that working in the "Next Level Chef" format — where you're using a small pantry of potentially unfamiliar ingredients to create a dish in a limited time — cultivates another crucial talent for home cooks: the ability to make something from nothing. He said that he often has to cook dinner in between grocery runs when his fridge is pretty barren. "I'm the cleaner. We didn't buy a lot of ingredients. We're not getting takeout. Can you cook a meal for us? And open up the fridge and just go for it. There's something fun about that. The improv of cooking like that is fun." Being able to create something delicious with minimal resources also allows you to stretch your grocery bills further and minimize food waste.

Once you've done a few competitions at home and want to up the ante, Blais suggests increasing the difficulty by moving to unfamiliar terrain. "Go to your neighbor's house, where you don't know where things are, open up their fridge. Tell them you're going to come over first, just to be clear."

"Next Level Chef" airs Thursdays on Fox at 8 p.m. ET/PT.