By Meranda Yslas

With summer around the corner, people will be bringing out their barbecues and getting ready for cookouts. Lucky for us, reality TV chef Richard Blais shared some helpful tips for starting up our grills in our exclusive celebrity interview. Read on for more!

Exclusive Celebrity Interview with Reality TV’s Top Chef 

Blais first appeared on television in season 4 of Bravo’s Top Chef, and nine years later, he is making his return to the small screen. “I’m returning again as a judge for Top Chef season 13, which we’re getting ready to film in California,” he explains. Since his premiere on the reality TV show, the New York native has made great strides in his career. He has already published one cookbook, and the second one will be out later this year. He shares that it’s “going to be great,” adding, “It’ll be in the same vain as my first cookbook, focusing on creativity for the home cook. I’m really excited about it.”

Related Link: ‘Top Chef’ Alum Richard Blais on Healthy Holiday Cooking with Benefiber

Being a chef is a career where you’re constantly honing your skills and even learning new techniques. There’s no doubt that Blais has changed since the start of his career. “My cooking has become more for the people than it is for myself,” he says. “I cook for everyone and hope to inspire home cooks to get creative in the kitchen because that’s when it’s really fun.” The Top Chef All-Stars winner elaborates on his new approach to cooking: When in the kitchen, “it’s not about me; it’s about the guest. I cook for everyone else, whether it’s at my restaurants or on TV — it’s all about the people who enjoy your food.”

Learning The Science of Food

Some people may think that cooking is just about throwing in ingredients and hoping for a tasty result, but there is actually a science and psychology behind food decisions. “Science is about asking questions, and as chefs, we often ask questions about how to make food taste good,” Blais reveals. “Understanding where food comes from is understanding the science of deliciousness.” Being aware of this science ultimately influences how the reality TV star cooks and what ingredients he uses. “I really like to look at flavor, and if it is delicious and makes people happy, then I’m very interested,” he adds.

One type of flavor that the Trail Blais owner has been paying attention to recently is the smoky flavor of barbecue. “There’s a nostalgia with smoked foods — everyone has a personal memory. Whether it is a family cookout, a favorite barbecue dish, or the summer holidays, who doesn’t love smoked foods?” he says.

If you’re interested in grilling out, consider this advice from the chef: “When smoking meat, the type of wood you use is key, as each wood creates a smoke with its own unique and distinct flavor. That’s why I’m excited to be working with Boar’s Head on their Black Forest Beechwood Smoked Ham,” he divulges. “It’s naturally smoked with imported beechwood from Germany and has a clean, balanced flavor. It’s a distinct braise that’s not bitter or ashy, and the texture and color is amazing.”

Related Link: Wolfgang Puck of ‘Top Chef: Seattle’ Says Taste is the Most Important Part of Cooking for Your Loved Ones

Achieving this distinct and delicious flavor isn’t as hard as one might think. “The best thing to do is use things that already have smoked ingredients…and get creative in the kitchen,” he advises.

Of course, a great date idea for this summer is to fire up the grill with your significant other and try out some recipes with a smoky flavor. Blais offers three final tips to make your cookout successful: “First, wear Hollywood short shorts. Second, do most of the work ahead of time. Mis en place. And third, use a wood-burning grill and make sure you have a great playlist!”

You can keep up with Richard on Twitter @RichardBlais and www.facebook.com/richardblaisofficial/!