In my maiden “Simmering Judgments” review, I outlined the personal brand of Bravo TV’s TopChef contestant Chef Richard Blais with an outstanding ranking of 3.625 stars (of 4 possible). In a nutshell, he was my pick for TopChef based on his TRUE (Truthful, Relevant, Unique, Engaging) personal brand; as well as his strength, drive and innovation as a chef. But I forgot one of Richard’s most important features in my review – his integrity.

As the final contest started, Richard’s ever-present strides of confidence and assertiveness seemed to be tripped up. He admitted that he felt unprepared and overwhelmed (“in the shit”) when Chef Colicchio checked on him just hours before dishes were to be plated. And as the finale streamed to a close, Richard stood at the judge’s table and admitted his lack of preparedness and focus with a simple, yet powerful, “I choked.”

No ego. No Excuses. Simply, “I choked.”

Ted Allen, one of the TopChef judges, feature personality on “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy,” and author of “The Food You Want to Eat: 100 Smart, Simple Recipes” said it best in his blog:

“…when the chefs are given their last chance to (usually) puff out their chests and fight for their lives,… Richard instead felt that he needed to use it to be honest about his performance. Because that is the kind of integrity he lives. You want to talk about stepping up? Leadership? Taking responsibility, wherever the chips might fall? For my money, this was the most emotional moment in the history of this show.”

Character and integrity are huge components of personal branding. Chef Blais showed that the Truthfulness of his brand is the foundation on which he constructs the rest of his life. Although he didn’t bring the title home to Atlanta, Richard Blais wins in the hearts of the viewers.

For all the effort and “dramatic personal sacrifice,” it all comes down to the fact that it’s just a reality television show. Richard has a life (although he may not feel like it right now) and a tremendous career to look forward to. In five years (hell, five months) no one will remember Stephanie Izard was the winner of season 4. But they will remember “The Blaze” and his bacon infused ice cream!

Keep Cooking!