Battle of the Blais event has new cooks combating with cuisine

Sat. October 2, 2021 12:00 AM
by Jerry Nunn

Cooper's Hawk Winery & Restaurant served up an event recently that was simply outstanding. Battle of the Blais was held at Mae District, an event space at 19 East 21st Street. 

Ticket holders were treated to a cocktail hour before sitting at tables to enjoy a three-course meal and a presentation by Bravo Top Chef Richard Blais. A contest followed afterward with three amateur cooks competing for prizes.  

Passed appetizers included ahi tuna tostadas and lobster rolls. The Swedish meatballs stood out because of a hibiscus gravy that made them distinctive and flavorful. Of course, the wine was flowing that evening with Cooper's Hawk's smooth flavors of both red and white wines, but a smoking ember cocktail really added to the celebration and fit in well with Blais' brand and style.  

Once everyone was seated, CEO Tim McEnery spoke about the plans for the night and introduced Blais. This Top Chef All-Star winner was not only charming and funny but kept the presentation running smoothly. 

Blais had hosted virtual parties with Cooper's Hawk during the pandemic lockdown and spoke about the challenges of that to GoPride before the night's festivities. He explained that because of the shooting schedule with Top Chef: Portland, he ran late for the virtual lecture. 

Well, he was on time for the in-person Chicago event and had the audience laughing in their seats. Dinner rolled out as he chatted away and showed how to concoct a tequila drink with nitrogen. 

The baby gem Caesar salad was delicious with marinated artichokes and avocados. The applewood bacon-wrapped filet mignon was accompanied with Blais' steak sauce and served over creamed spinach. Dessert consisted of white chocolate passion fruit butter cake and really packed a punch.  

The Battle of the Blais had three novice cooks named Mark, Mary and Dale preparing food at action stations on the stage. They were judged on plating, overall use of ingredients and taste. A Nunn flew in to assist with the judging last minute and Mary was declared a clear winner. 

The party ended with fans of Blais meeting him up close and personal before going home. 

Sign up for Cooper's Hawk wine club at and check back often for special events such as Battle of the Blais in the future.