Marcel and Hung to Hang Together Next WeekThe two most unpopular members of the cast of the second and third seasons of Top Chef, Hung Huynh and Marcel Vigneron, are actually friends, and you can meet them both next week.
Chefs Relax in Bruni’s Absence; Chinese Seafood: Now With Fewer Drugs!Frank Bruni is out of the city until January 23, or maybe January 31. Either way, chefs at new restaurants will be breathing a little bit easier until he returns. [Eater]
The European Group on Ethics in Science and New Technologies has released a report saying that cloning causes suffering to animals, making it unjustifiable to clone them for the food supply. [NYT]
Top Chef winner Hung Huynh was spotted in Las Vegas at Company, the same restaurant where Season Two contestant Marcel Vigneron works as a cook. It’s no coincidence, though; they’re buds from cooking school. [Eater L.A.]
Where Are the Restrooms at wd~50? No, Seriously — Where?
It’s no secret that wd~50’s bathrooms are as byzantine as its food. Even The New Yorker’s reviewer Kevin Conley wasn’t smart enough to figure them out: “It can take minutes to realize that you have to push the wall — a Mensa-test experience so disconcerting that one diner wound up down the hall in a storeroom.” Having seen our share of hidden doors (Pukk and 44, for starters), we knew we’d be okay when we went downstairs to confront the beast.
Batali and Bourdain Argue Over Adam Platt, the Egg Thief, and Much More
Marco Pierre White showed up at Borders last night for a book signing with two friends in tow: Mario Batali and Tony Bourdain. We sat down with the latter two for a few minutes before the event and picked their brains. In true style, Mario sent one of the store’s managers out for a bottle of vodka and some tonic at the start, but as the harried fellow didn’t arrive until the end, this discussion was conducted in cold sobriety.
If Wylie Dufresne Is So Original, Why Didn’t He Write a Book?Note: Readers with only a limited appetite for endless Talmudic hairsplitting over chef etiquette might want to quickly scan this exchange between us and the Gurgling Cod, a blogger even more fascinated by the Marcel Egg Scandal than we are.
Grub Street,While Marcel Vigneron certainly rips off Wylie Dufresne, the charge of plagiarism does not make sense. There’s no assertion of the work’s origination with Vigneron anywhere in the Wired piece that started this whole fuss. If you attend a musical performance, there is no such expectation that, say, Yo-Yo Ma wrote the cello suite he is performing. In this context, cooking is more like playing the cello than writing a book. If Dufresne wants to protect his intellectual property, he should write a book, which would be copyright protected. Like all artists, cooks rip each other off all the time. I suspect that the current mania for molecular gastronomy may work to create a notion of the molecular chef as auteur, rather than artisan, and thus these allegations of plagiarism.The Gurgling Cod
‘Wired’ Tries to Scramble the Case of the Stolen Egg
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?
Did Marcel From ‘Top Chef’ Really Just Rip Off Wylie Dufresne?
Marcel Vigneron, the memorably unpopular molecular gastronomist from last year’s Top Chef, can add the staff of wd-50 to the long list of people that can’t stand him. The place is agog at the effrontery of Vigneron, since they believe he has brazenly ripped off one of chef Wylie Dufresne’s best-known dishes. By the looks of a feature in the current issue of Wired, Vigneron has created a showpiece dish of a “cyber egg,” the yolk of which is made of carrot-cardamom purée, surrounded by a white of hardened coconut milk. Very interesting, given that almost the exact same dish (minus a garnish of foam and carrot) has been served often at wd-50, is featured on the restaurant’s website, and, we are told by members of the staff, has been eaten by Vigneron at least twice. “It’s one thing to be inspired by a dish and to change the flavors to make it your own,” says line cook John Bignelli. “But to just steal everything? How can you do that?” Dufresne, staying above the fray, declined to comment.
Tasty Molecules From a Top Chef [Wired]
Related: ‘Top Chef’’s Marcel Doesn’t Love Joël Robuchon That Much
Tiptoe Through the Molecules With Me …The phrase “molecular gastronomy” has been thrown around a lot recently, most often in reference to high-tech, high-concept cookery practiced by pointy-haired runner-up Marcel Vigneron on Top Chef. Chow’s currently showing a slideshow that breaks down the art as practiced by one of its greatest masters, Grant Achatz of Chicago restaurant Alinea.
Back of the House
Rocket Rod Dances Back Into the River Café; Nobody Likes IlanRod Stewart, banned for life at the River Café for pulling his own “rod” out, gets readmitted after a penitential jig for owner Buzzy O’Keefe. [NYDN]
McDonald’s coffee “the cheapest and the best,” according to Consumer Reports. Of course, it was only going up against Burger King, Dunkin’ Donuts, and Starbucks. [NYDN]
Frank Bruni also thinks Marcel got the shaft in the Top Chef finale. Does Ilan have any fans in the media at all? [NYT]
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Ilan May Not Be Top Chef Tonight; Coca Leaf CuisineYesterday’s Ilan Hall winner profile? Just one of two we had ready, says Food & Wine. Read Marcel’s. [Food & Wine]
Related: ‘Top Chef’ Winner Revealed — For Real! [Grub Street]
Bruni weighs in on Top Chef, giving the cooking elements of the show a surprising amount of respect. [NYT]
Sara Dickerman looks at the new wave of cooking shows and finds them all totally ridiculous — but entertaining. [Slate]
Back of the House
Red Cat Owner Betting on Ilan to Win ‘Top Chef’Immediately following the penultimate episode of Top Chef, we instant-messaged with Jimmy Bradley, the chef and restaurateur behind the Red Cat, the Mermaid Inn, and the Harrison, and the co-author of The Red Cat Cookbook. Last year’s winner, Harold Dieterle, was a sous-chef at the Harrison, so we thought Jimmy might have an interesting angle on the battle between Ilan, Sam, Elia, and the much-maligned Marcel.
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‘Top Chef’ Fans Going Wild OnlineUpdate: Snack reports that Ilan Hall has quit his line cook post at Casa Mono. Let the speculation as to whether this is because he won the show or lost it begin!
The Top Chef fans have spoken – or, rather, they’ve been bitching on the Internet. As America waits to find out whether Sam, Ilan, Elia, or Marcel gets the boot in tonight’s penultimate episode, it’s clear that the crowd’s heart is with Marcel, the Joël Robuchon cook the rest of the cast has been bullying all season. “I’m full of impotent rage at the idea that Ilan, Sam or Elia will win either of the competitions (fan favorite or Top Chef),” writes baconeggs on Television Without Pity.
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Top Chef Bashed With Bottle; How to Get Great ServiceSteakhouse king and inventor of T.G.I. Friday’s Alan Stillman shares his secrets of success with the Houston Chronicle: “95 percent luck and 5 percent skill.” [Houston Chronicle]
Top Chef’s hapless Marcel bashed with a bottle in Las Vegas. “I don’t believe violence solves anything,” he says. No doubt. [NYP]
James Bond is out, and Fredo Corleone is in as Death & Co. and Fireside give the martini the heave-ho and the daiquri and other old-time cocktails a revival. [Bloomberg]
Back of the House
Cream Sauce à la RobuchonThere’s a two-course menu of Top Chef dish today. In the magazine, three contestants reveal their less-than-glowing feelings about host Padma Lakshmi — “Some of the things she wore, I wouldn’t suggest anyone wear around a working kitchen” is our favorite line. And over at Daily Intelligencer, they vented about the contestant everybody loves to hate, Marcel Vigneron. Known on the show for his preposterous foams, Vigneron is accused of a particularly vile and, we would add, wildly inappropriate act of homage to Joël Robuchon.
So Hot She’s Flammable [NYM]
Top Chef’s Marcel Doesn’t Love Joël Robuchon That Much [Daily Intel]