A few days after running in the New York Marathon, celebrity chef Richard Blais is still catching his breath.
While in New York, the “Top Chef: All Stars” champion made several TV appearances including filming a few episodes with fellow Food Network star Rachael Ray. When he returned home to Del Mar, Blais spent a whirlwind 24 hours commuting back and forth between Los Angeles and San Diego where he runs three restaurants and hosts a podcast.
This week, he adds a third pitstop to his always hectic schedule: Orange County.
On Monday, Nov. 20 the bespectacled chef and his business partner Mike Rosen are bringing their premium fried chicken restaurant, The Crack Shack, to Costa Mesa. It’s their fourth restaurant and third Crack Shack. The duo plan to open another Crack Shack next year in Los Angeles.
The San Diego fast-casual restaurant is part of growing number of hybrid dining concepts such as Tender Greens and Shake Shack that blend made-to-order fast food with fine dining ingredients. Crack Shack’s focus is razor sharp, luring diners with an irresistible American classic too messy to make at home.
“There isn’t anyone we found who doesn’t love fried chicken,” said Rosen. “It’s comfort food in every culture. And unlike hamburgers, not every home cook can make fried chicken.”
Earlier this month, Rosen and Blais gave the Register an exclusive look at The Crack Shack’s first Orange County outlet. The 142-seat fried chicken eatery replaces a vacant Chase bank on East 17th Street, a hipster enclave peppered with chef-driven restaurants such as Sidecar Doughnuts, Pitfire Pizza and Mendocino Farms.
“We think this community is seeking out high-quality innovative concepts,” Rosen said.