Next was Marcel. He took a lot of risks and eventually lost because of his inexperience with certain techniques. His menu writing skills need some work too. His first dish was visually beautiful. However, it was very aggressive in flavor and left quite the aftertaste (I could only have two spoonfuls before I had to put it down). The salad debacle left me scratching my head. The technique that he was trying to use with the isomalt was one he had found out about only several weeks before, when he attended Spain's 10 here in NYC. It is a technique that renowned pastry chef Paco Torreblanca had demonstrated to an audience of 300.
Even if the encapsulated vinaigrette had worked, it was still just a salad, weaker in flavor than the first dish, and it really had no place on the menu at all. When he realized they had forgotten the kampachi, things took a turn for the worse.
He bit his tongue to prevent blaming Mike and Sam for the error, but then again, Mike is right; Marcel should have triple checked everything before leaving the Water's Edge kitchen. Sam gamely got Marcel refocused and the outcome was a phenomenal dish of poached hearts of palm with matsutake mushrooms, seabeans, and a kaffir lime and coconut sauce that left me begging for more. I thought his beef dish was good and nicely plated, his take on steak frites with the crispy taro ball.
The dessert was interesting. The Kona coffee caviar is achieved by mixing the coffee with sodium alginate. When dropped into a solution of calcium chloride and water, soft liquid pearls form, sort of like salmon roe. What I didn't understand was why he didn't pile tons of the caviar on the dish. It was the whimsy and the best part of the dish. To his credit, Wylie thought it was a great take on the concept of caviar and blini, and it did in fact satisfy my sweet tooth. While he had some missteps, it was a thoughtful menu that incorporated his idea of molecular gastronomy with much of the produce from the farmer's market.
For the record, I don't think Ilan has a greater passion for cooking than Marcel (if that was the case, Marcel would've been eliminated a long time ago), nor is he more forgiving (they both had their hand at playing the antagonist and the victim). At the same time, Marcel's got a thing or two to learn about what it really means to be a chef, and accepting responsibility for your team's mistakes. It became a battle of egos, and who was going to give the smackdown to the other one. That being said, they still both did a great job with their final challenge.