'Top Chef' Richard Blais: 'You can't really act your way through real life'

richard-blais-life-after-top-chef-bravo-325.jpgEven if someone has won "Top Chef," that doesn't necessarily mean his journey with the show is over.

Richard Blais finished Season 4 of the Bravo competition as the runner-up, then came back to win Season 8, dubbed "Top Chef: All-Stars." He now operates several eateries from his Atlanta home base, and his life after "Top Chef" is being traced in an unscripted show titled ... well, "Life After Top Chef," which Bravo currently is televising on Wednesdays.

"One of the biggest things I realized was that I just had to let it play out as it played out," Blais tells Zap2it. "If you try to manipulate a situation, it doesn't work. You can't really act your way through real life, and restaurants aren't perfect, and family life isn't perfect ... but you manage and you get through it as a team, and I think that's what the show displays."

Blais isn't the only franchise veteran profiled in "Life After Top Chef"; Spike Mendelsohn (who was among Blais' "All-Stars" rivals), Jen Carroll and Fabio Viviani also are in the spotlight. Admitting there's a certain comfort factor in seeing others get the same treatment, Blais accepts that "Top Chef" will be in his life for a very long time, extending to his intention to participate in a related cruise in April.

"Over 100 people have now participated on the show," he reflects, "probably closer to 200 if you count the spinoffs. Some people go through it and decide they didn't like the experience, but my first job was at a McDonald's when I was 14. The fact that I get to do these things and have these experiences, I have a lot of gratitude to Bravo and 'Top Chef' for."

What are you currently reading?

"Not as a self-promotional tie-in, but I'm reading the final manuscript of my cookbook, mostly. And I think there are a couple of the last two 'Hunger Games' books floating around, since my wife is into those."

What did you have for dinner last night?

"I was doing some filming in L.A. and got back really late, and I had a rib-eye steak and french fries. When you're training for a marathon, that's an awful thing to have at 11 at night, but that's what it was."

What is your next project?

"I have the cookbook coming out early next year, and I'm always looking for new television and restaurant opportunities. And I'm running the New York City Marathon (on Nov. 4) for Alliance for a Healthier Generation, which is part of the Clinton Foundation that fights childhood obesity."

When was the last vacation you took -- where and why?

"It was actually Barbados, and it was part of the prize package from 'Top Chef: All-Stars.' We took that way later than we should have."
Photo/Video credit: Bravo