Celebrity chef to appear in Southwest Orange County

Celebrity chef Richard Blais has built a culinary empire out of his deeply rooted love of food. The ‘Top Chef: All Stars’ winner will be at his restaurant, Four Flamingos, in July.

Richard Blais will be meeting guests in July at Four Flamingos at the Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress.
Richard Blais will be meeting guests in July at Four Flamingos at the Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress.
Courtesy photo
  • Southwest Orange
  • News
  • Share

When Richard Blais’ youngest daughter created a science fair project about the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster, the topic triggered one of the celebrity chef’s earliest memories of his love for the culinary arts.

Most everyone alive that day can remember where they were when the news broke. 

“I played hooky from school that day, and I remember before it happened I went into the kitchen and made myself a ham and cheese and potato chip sandwich,” he said. “I’m maybe 9 or 10 years old, and I felt that this was a culinary masterpiece. I also talk out loud to myself sometimes, something I’m not afraid to admit, and I remember pretending to host a food television show while I was making the sandwich.”

Today, Blais is known worldwide as a chef, television personality, restaurateur and author. He was the runner-up on the fourth season of the competition cooking show, “Top Chef,” and later won “Top Chef: All-Stars.” He is the James Beard Award-nominated author of “Try This at Home” and “So Good.”

And in July, Blais will make an appearance in Southwest Orange at his restaurant, Four Flamingos, located at the Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress.


Blais’ first job was at a McDonald’s, which he said he decided to work at for the money and for the leftover food each day.

“As a businessperson, I want my kids to take a job for a big corporation to get that experience working for a Chipotle or a Starbucks or something like that because of all the things I learned working at McDonalds,” he said. “You learn a lot about corporate culture and how a big, successful business operates. I love the story of how these businesses first started.”

After starting as a cashier at McDonald’s, Blais quickly transitioned to the back of the house as a cook when one of the first guests he had to take an order for was a girl he liked.

“I froze and just couldn’t get the words out,” he said. “It’s funny, because now I love speaking about what I do even more than actually doing it. On the people side of it, we just have such a great industry. That’s a blessing and probably why I love this industry so much. Everyone comes from a different place and has a different background or story. Everyone has a dish that they remember their grandma making a certain way. Having those conversations; it sounds a little too communal, but if we all just talked about food then the world would be a better place. It’s true. The commonalities are endless. We all have something to learn from one another.”

Blais grew up in New York and attended The Culinary Institute of America. He trained at The French Laundry, Daniel, Chez Panisse and el Bulli. 

After his success on “Top Chef,” Blais now co-hosts FOX’s “Next Level Chef” with Gordon Ramsay and Nyesha Arrington.

He also owns and operates Trail Blais, a forward-thinking culinary consulting group that has designed and launched popular eateries across the country.

Blais has founded two restaurant concepts — Juniper and Ivy in California and The Crab Shack, which has multiple locations. He also owns four restaurants: California English and Ember & Rye in California, and Four Flamingos in Orlando and Key West.

He is active in the podcast space as host of “Food Court,” a high-energy, game show style podcast and the “Starving for Attention” podcast.


“Being a native New Yorker, my first memories of Florida were coming down here for that once-in-a-lifetime family vacation and going to Disney World,” he said. “I remember my mom jumping out of our car to just run and grab an orange from someone’s tree. My wife also has a ton of family in Florida. Now, having spent a lot of time in this state and being in all parts of it, when this opportunity came about, I knew I wanted to do it. I wanted to create a vintage Floridian concept going backwards and making what most people who don’t live here think about when they think of Florida. We wanted to embrace that local history and culture. … It’s kind of like saying the most interesting ice cream flavor is vanilla, because everything has been so done and new that actually going all the way back to vanilla is cool and unique. It has a connotation of being simple and basic, but simple and basic is really hard. That’s the beauty we want to capture here.”

The Four Famingos menu items change regularly based on the restaurant’s commitment to using the best seasonal and sustainable ingredients.
Courtesy photo

The eatery’s name pays tribute to the four species of flamingo native to the Americas. 

The menu’s cuisine is inspired by Florida flavors, including citrus, fresh-caught surf and fire-grilled turf. The menu items change regularly based on the restaurant’s commitment to using the best seasonal and sustainable ingredients.

Some of the popular dishes include the Goat Cheese Brulee, Wild Boar Sliders, Shrimp Bucatini, Black Grouper, Wagyu Picanha, Ahi Tuna Steak, and Pineapple and Sage Panna Cotta.


Four Flamingos recently earned MICHELIN recommendation for the third consecutive year. 

“It’s truly just a testament to the team we have here and their commitment to buying great ingredients and crafting and presenting these delicious creations,” Blais said. “A lot of people think that you’re just a magician waving a wand over a hat, and then here’s the recipe, and it’s never like that. This place is so little about Richard Blais and so much more about the people here day in and day out. The team is the most important thing. I always say the concept is this, this and that through the lens of, in this case, Central Florida’s people and produce. You’re only as good as your team and your ingredients. It’s a melting pot of creativity here.”

Head Chef Shelby Farrell helps lead the team at Four Flamingos Orlando and has been with the restaurant since its inception. 

“Opening Four Flamingos with Chef Blais has been an amazing experience,” she said. “We make a great team, and it’s been a blast to work off his creative mind. Over two years into the restaurant and we’re still continually creating new and exciting dishes.”

The venue is set to debut two new menu items: Filet mignon with oxtail demi-glace, poached asparagus and passionfruit hollandaise, and Broiled cobia collars with tangerine Castelvetranos, shakshuka coulis and house-made bottarga.

Blais will be making an appearance at the restaurant from Friday, June 21, through Sunday, June 23. Those who wish to make a reservation should visit the Four Flamingos website.

Richard Blais is looking forward to meeting guests in July.
Photo by Annabelle Sikes

“Chef Blais is known around the world for his friendly, spirited personality and incredible food,” Majed Farah, Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress general manager, said. “His unique take on Florida-inspired cuisine aligns perfectly with the tropical oasis experience we offer our guests. Even if you’re not staying overnight with us, dining at Four Flamingos is like having a mini-getaway.”


Like so many who have dedicated their lives to a singular craft or art, Blais’ love of the culinary arts is deep, soulful and, yes, emotional.

So much so that a ratatouille dish once made him cry.

Thomas Keller, who served as the chef consultant for Pixar’s “Ratatouille” film, was someone under which Blais trained. He remembers working under another chef who berated him while he was making the difficult dish and crying on the way home. 

Eggs are one of Blais’ favorite dishes to cook and eat.

“Like everyone else, I spend way too much time late at night scrolling through social media platforms, and I often find myself in Japan digitally watching people make incredible omelets and egg dishes,” he said. “The Japanese have such precision with most everything they do. There’s always been that old saying that if you want to see how good a chef is, you have them make an omelet. Eggs are something you can get creative with. I also have a young athlete at home who needs protein. So, I make a lot of eggs at home.”

Blais serves as the culinary director for VIP dining at San Diego Symphony’s performance space, The Rady Shell at Jacobs Park.

He additionally advises numerous national brands on recipe development, creativity, ideation and team-building. 

Blais also can be found traveling across the country performing his live brand of “Stand-Up Cooking” to enthusiastic audiences nationwide.

Family is incredibly important to Blais. He has two daughters and recently released his “Plant Forward” cookbook with his wife, Jazmin, who he refers to as his creative partner.

Blais encourages people to come in, say hi to the team and give Four Flamingos a try.

He said several of the servers at the restaurant have worked there for decades, and he fondly refers to them as his bosses.

“I am blessed that I get to do so many different things,” Blais said. “I just want to continue to provide great guest experience and try to run the most efficient business we can while making everyone happy. It’s hard to make all three of those things happen, but that’s the goal. I want to continue to bridge the gap between business and creativity, because sometimes they are at odds. As an artist in my heart, those worlds don’t always add up, but when you can figure it out, that’s when the magic happens.”

Richard Blais encourages people to come in, say hi to the team and give Four Flamingos a try.
Courtesy photo



Annabelle Sikes

News Editor Annabelle Sikes was born in Boca Raton and moved to Orlando in 2018 to attend the University of Central Florida. She graduated from UCF in May 2021 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a minor in sociology. Her past journalism experiences include serving as a web producer at the Orlando Sentinel, a reporter at The Community Paper, managing editor for NSM Today, digital manager at Centric Magazine and as an intern for the Orlando Weekly.

Latest News