Richard Blais feeds the flame on summer entertaining, exclusive interview

Richard Blais for Mount Gay Rum, photo provided by Mount Gay
Richard Blais for Mount Gay Rum, photo provided by Mount Gay /

When celebrated chef Richard Blais gets behind the grill, the delicious food is just one part of the engaging atmosphere. Anyone who has seen Chef Blais on food television programs or his social media accounts appreciates that there is an added flare to experience. While Chef Blais seems to make everything look effortless, he is ready to reveal some summer entertaining tips which anyone can master. Ready to light a fire on some delicious food and beverage pairings?

Summer and entertaining go hand in hand. While some people might jet away to that picturesque vacation, the backyard can offer an escape, too. After lighting the grill and putting a cocktail in your hand, the vista out the back door can be a little oasis.

Still, home cooks can look at the flame with fear. Even with the most cautious planning, taming the flame may not be as easy as it seems on television. Luckily, Chef Blais has a witty reply to FoodSided’s query.

When asked what do when “grilling does sideways,” Richard Blais said, “Ahhh! Sideways grilling! Very Argentinian! I’m half joking, you know, about vertical grilling, but embrace the mistake. I once dropped an onion in the bottom embers of my grill and the next day after peeling away the charred skin and outer layers the most beautifully Smokey, translucent and almost puréed onion revealed itself. It was as sweet as an apple! Embrace the miss steaks! Mistakes I mean.”

That humorous approach is important to cooking. As all good chefs appreciate, mistakes happen. More importantly, they can be learning moments. Just like Chef Blais’ onion scenario, the don’t could become a do.

In a more serious tone, Chef Blais shared these summer grilling tips. “A simple tip I like is to make sure you get your grill going early, get it hot enough and get your prep ready and nearby so you can mind and tend the grill. I also love cooking in a pan directly on the grill, or even directly on the coals to sometimes save those juices that leak into the fire!”

With these tips in mind, Chef Blais encourages people to actually get outside and grill. Without actually putting food on the flame, cooks cannot learn.

Chef Blais said, “I always encourage at home chefs to take advantage of barbecue season and experiment with different taste profiles and seasonal ingredients. I think the best way to do this is through making ribs. There are so many ways to cook this dish and none of them are wrong.”

As home cooks are looking for new recipes to expand their repertoire, Chef Blais has found some recipe inspiration from a favorite spirit. With this recipe featuring Mount Gay Rum, the summer grilling favorite gets a nuanced flavor from the aged rum.

Chef Blais said, “Lately, I have enjoyed bringing the flavors of rum to my dishes, naturally finding a way to infuse them into a rib dish was exciting for me. My Mount Gay Black Barrel Blaised Ribs perfectly complements any rum cocktail you’re beating the heat with. It’s delicious, when I blend the recipe’s piquant spices with a healthy pour of Mount Gay Black Barrel to marinate lamb or pork ribs, the result is out of this world and gloriously messy.”

Here how to make Mount Gay Black Barrel Blaised Ribs by Richard Blais


  • 1 rack Denver cut lamb spareribs or pork spareribs
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1/3 cup hoisin sauce
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • 1/3 cup Mount Gay Black Barrel
  • 2 tbsp. sweet potato syrup, date syrup, or honey
  • 2 tbsp. sugar
  • 1 tbsp. minced garlic
  •  ¾ tsp. red food coloring or ¼ cup fresh beet juice
  • 1 tsp. Chinese five spice powder
  • 3 tbsp. toasted sesame seeds, for garnish
  •  ¼ cup sliced scallions, for garnish
  • 1 tbsp. chili crunch, for garnish


  1. Season the whole rack of ribs with salt and pepper
  2. Mix the hoisin sauce, soy sauce, Mount Gay Black Barrel, sweet potato syrup, sugar, garlic, food coloring, and Chinese five spice powder
  3. Place the ribs on a large sheet of aluminum foil, pour half the liquid over the top, then wrap tightly around the ribs so no liquid can escape (you may need to use an additional piece of foil to ensure it doesn’t leak)
  4. Place the wrapped ribs on a sheet pan and bake in a 350°F oven for 3 hours
  5. Carefully unwrap and, if desired, sear the ribs on a hot grill, or quickly broil or pan sear to make them crispy. Glaze with additional sauce and top with the sesame seeds, scallions, and chili crunch

With the ribs cooking, a great beverage pairing is in order. For Chef Blais, he offers this advice.

“When I am pairing anything, I’m always thinking about whether I want to compare or contrast the flavors I am working with. In this case, I wanted Mount Gay to be the star, so I am looking to find different elements that complement each other.”

Since this recipe features, the Mount Gay Rum, Chef Blais took a specific approach. He said, “I want to make sure the food is there to help the cocktail stand out, not the other way around. Mount Gay Rum has such complex flavors in its liquid that when it was time to approach creating a rum cocktail alongside a dish, I found myself inspired by tasting essences of almond shortbread and over-ripe banana sauce caramel.”

While the food and beverage pairing is on point, the glass can have a little extra. Anyone who has been to a Richard Blais restaurant appreciates that the cocktails are not only flavorful but also visually impressive.

Chef Blais shared, “At my restaurants, Ember & Rye and Four Flamingos, we do like to play a bit and have some fun cocktail-oriented toys for sure that can easily be purchase online or in a good store, but my favorite elements are more natural, featuring botanicals and or flowers from your garden, making your own bitters, choosing the right glass to match a theme, and of course ice! Having a variety of ice molds to get perfect shapes is an elegant way to make a visual impact.”

What does Richard Blais recommend for the perfect summer gathering?

With a great recipe and a refreshing cocktail at the ready, a festive summer event is on the road to success. Even though it can be hard to pick just five must-have items, FoodSided had to ask what Chef Blais would pick.

He said, “Just 5 is tough! But I’d have to say my five must-haves include an inviting atmosphere, a refreshing Mount Gay Rum cocktail to serve guests, flavorful food pairings inspired by your cocktail, fun serve ware for your meal, and, of course, we cannot forget about having good music.”

It is time to put on the tunes, grab the cocktail shaker and light the grill. Do not let summer fun disappear before raising a toast with a flavorful food and beverage pairing that has been kissed by the flame.