Our exposure of Top Chef washout Marcel Vigneron as an alleged egg thief has already had ramifications. Wired products editor Mark McClusky, who wrote the online feature in which Vigneron demonstrates a dish that wd-50 staffers tell us was stolen from them, now all but admits as much in a blog entry. “We've eaten at wd-50 as well — during the editing process here, we did realize that Marcel's ‘Cyber Egg’ is very, very similar to the one that Dufresne serves.” Um, okay. So why did McClusky let the cyber-chef present it as if it were his own?
Rather than offering a clear answer, the post quickly bogs down into a meditation on the nature of intellectual property, ruminating that “It’s hard to draw a clear line when it comes to the creative ownership of food.” Actually, we think it’s pretty easy. Unlike pommes Anna, veal Oscar, or (to use McClusky’s example) Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s molten chocolate cake, Dufresne’s fried egg made out of carrot purée, cardamom, and hardened coconut milk wasn’t a variation on any existing dish. Which is, of course, the very reason Vigneron wanted to lay claim to it, and the reason why Wylie Dufresne, its true author, deserves the credit. The line is between imagination and imitation, and no line is clearer than that.