Marcel Vigneron

Marcel Vigneron has been in these chefs' shoes before ... in more ways than one.

on Sep 10, 20090

As a former contestant of Top Chef, a former resident of Las Vegas, and a former cook of Joel Robuchon, you could say that I’m a little bit of an expert on these topics. Blogging, I must admit, is something I’m relatively new at.

As soon as I saw Daniel Boulud in his Brasserie at The Wynn, I can’t say that I didn’t see that escargot Quickfire coming. Regardless, in this “High Stakes” situation it doesn’t matter what you anticipate but rather what you execute once the challenge has begun. Which is why it’s logical and comfortable to cook from the heart and return to your roots in these circumstances.  Escargot with grapes, garlic, parsley, white wine, butter and sea salt … Anyone? Therefore, I was glad to see Mike Isabella cook with a little bit of his heritage, using Ouzo and creating a dish inspired by the little Greek island of Crete.

Cooking at Joel Robuchon in The Mansion of the MGM Grand during this is indeed a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, especially considering they where cooking for the Chef of the Century himself (AKA The Unicorn), not to mention all of the other highly revered French chefs that were present during this Elimination Challenge. I remember the first time I donned my whites and entered that brand new kitchen, with my knives sharper than the devil himself, and my nerves more shaken than a fresh Polaroid. The jet-black Molteni induction island with gold trim gleaming, the aura of excellence and elegance exuding from the beaming black and white tiles on the walls, I remember it like it was yesterday. That was the kitchen I was working in before and after my tenure on TC, so forgive me if I get a little nostalgic with my description.  

Two teams seemed to overcome the pressure and truly rise to this momentous classical French cooking occasion, both of which coincidentally included a Voltaggio. These two brothers are obviously a force to be reckoned with, and I predict they will be the chefs to beat this season! They both have skills deeply rooted in classical cooking but have the capability of transforming dishes into modernly refined masterpieces. Mr. Robuchon himself said “J'aime beaucoup” when referring to the hunted rabbit dish that Jen and Michael created together, which in itself bodes very well for that team, considering I have personally seen Mr. Robuchon abrade and belittle the most confident of chefs for their inability to create perfection.

In regards to my predictions for this particular episode, I’m going to place my bet on Volt and Isabella as the winners! I assume they are going to take this pot for their ability to respectfully recreate a classic combination using their wit, personality, and modern technique. They were able to express themselves as chefs by not only playing homage to a classic, but by reinventing both the trout and béarnaise preparations with their own style, which is a sign of a great chef.

As far as who packs their knives and goes, I think there are several options. The arrogant Frenchmen, who thought “they created a challenge just for him” and who put bacon in a veloute, should be sent home merely based on principle. Not to mention I like the irony of seeing a French chef go home during a classical French challenge. The two other candidates I presume will be on the chopping block are Mr. Bloody “I didn’t have time to rest my meat” Fillet and Mr. “I threw my sauce in the air and hope it landed on a plate during one of the most important meals I’ll ever cook in my life” Au Poivre.

31 comments
L. Livesay
L. Livesay

I guess he should be more like gordon ramsey, who is rude and tromps on every person he comes in contact with. Perhaps Marcel should be more like him.

lizardb
lizardb

You rock! Totally my favorite on all seasons!

godiva de maus
godiva de maus

I'm sorry I cannot agree with everything you are stating. There is absolutely no denying that Marcel has innate talent, developed skill, and artistic creativity and finesse. But like many artists, he created the reality he ended up having to deal with. I would have to say that the one thing that stood between Marcel and the Top Chef award certainly was not a lack of culinary skill, it was his inability to grasp that awards and success may rest upon the talents we bring to the table, but no artist gets there alone. No chef ever ran a truly successful business, without creating and maintaining a cohesive team.

I had thought that losing to someone Marcel felt was his artistic inferior might have caused him to introspect upon this fact and grow from it. Honestly, I think the Judging Chefs would have loved to have handed Marcel the award for the risk taking and clearly apparent creativity, but when the food from both contestants was comparable in terms of taste, it got down to whom did they feel was the more mature "Chef" right now. What wasn't said, but implied is that if Marcel learned this very clear lesson of relationships of people to food, he could be the next "Great."

Sadly, I read a quote on Marcel's myspace page that basically says that creating new food is more important than humanities happiness... While someone else said it and he merely repeated it, it shows he has not yet matured in terms of the relationship of food to people.

Food is here to nourish us. Chef's create a fascinating and tantalizing array of foods to do something more: please us, delight us, challenge us, comfort us, cement relationships, form bonds between people and events, people and people and people and tastes.

So, Marcel... if I could say one thing to you, without detracting one iota from your brilliant skills as a Chef... please spend time delighting in the relationships formed over food, if you can learn this one lesson... there will likely be nothing to hold you back.

martyhutson
martyhutson

I thought that you were the best in season 2 and you were really cute.

Slaen
Slaen

Marcel, if you ever come to this site again, just wanted to tell ya that you were my favorite. People just don't "get" you, but I did.

Nikhil
Nikhil

Hey Marcel well for me your dishes were the most innovative of your season. i believe you should have won the title hands down(i didnt agree with the result in any way). As an Chef all i can say is your knowledge and style of cooking is the best and you are Chef worth learning from for all of us young aspirants. dont let the negativity affect you at all. Hope to hear more from you. keep blogging and keep up the good work and cook your heart out. Have fun.

Viewer RJ
Viewer RJ

Marcel, I have to agree with JohnJ (don't listen to "foodie"), The real unfairness was not just the "hair thing" (which, by the way, in a criminal sense, where the person is holding the camera egging on the act of violence, would Not be let go.)..That being said, the real unfairness can be seen in the many attempts of undermining your work.Like, taking all the burners (for Ilan's clams), leaving barely anything in space or time for you..Further, you have no room to prepare and loses half of your fish on the floor and still recovers?, how about trying to stiff you when you needed some help in service when you all servered the celebrities..(notice how they admired him though in his actions with the Soprano's actress)..Then Ilan comes out and puts your dish down (bad sportsmanship).There was the deep fryer sabotage (leaving you with cold oil), still you came through..then the BS during the finals with your "team",..all the while the child like, behind the back "sniveling" by Ilan going on.. (an immature and cowardly behavior)..I'm sure Ilan is a good cook, but it is obvious Marcel Is a Chef and a darn good one that is getting better all the time..I can't speak for Sam, but if you "listened to him" in that episode, he went with Marcel because he thought he could learn something from him and said all Ilan does "is cook the same stuff over and over"..It is true Marcel got some help from Sam on the dish, but if you watched closely, Marcel did not get enough credit for what he did on the dish, nor did he try to claim it (class)..Personally speaking, I think it was probably the salad that cost him..What got missed (but not by Tom) was that Marcel was literally creating as he went along (not so for Ilan)..Look at the quickfire when Marcels coffee press blew up and he still gave Eric R. something that he had never had or thought about and,once again, on the fly..As for "playful"..If you really look at Marcel's first dish in the final, (uni with meyer lemon sauce)..as inspired by their walk on the beach where he got "stung" and had to pee on himself (lemon sauce),..unbeleivable..Obviously he coudn't share that with the judges (too much information)...but noticed here...Finally, look at this season,..one of the "prizes was to work for a week with Joel Robuchon...Marcel was a master chef there, who I believe had to prepare a seven course meal (on the fly) as an audition just to get in..(unbelievable)..I believe a little respect for that would not hurt...Marcel, for a person as young as you were then to take all of that and still do so well is amazing..I hope you keep growing and improving and I also, would like to enjoy your food sometime..Good Luck and all the Best....RJ

Viewer90069
Viewer90069

Marcel.. You're pretty cool! I like watching you on the show, i'm glad you always stick up for yourself when ever the other chefs come after you, you keep it together i don't why the get on you so much, I think you're awsome.

ms2020
ms2020

Marcel! Your still my favorite and I'm glad to see you blogging. Believe me anytime your on Top Chef we will be watching. Loved the episode with all the returning chefs, happy you were one of them. The one thing I can say about it though is not to take so seriously when a chef (for instance Fabio) asks you about your season or the "infamous hair episode". I could be completely wrong but I think the majority of them including him were actually on your side. As were we. You happened to be on with alot of boobs, not every season had so many, many of them were really funny and seemed pretty likable. So lighten up about it, you were the one who came off in a good light remember that. Plus you still have a hell of a lot of fans!!! Hope your on the show again soon, it's always great to see you. Good Luck!

J Foodie
J Foodie

Marcel (and the other bloggers):

In your defense, you have several things going for you. You are willing to take chances, your passion for food is obvious, and you have the potetial for becoming a good chef. Oh, and Ilan and Cliff are the kids in the schoolyard who like to pick on others (i.e. d-bags)

Reality check everyone: Having said that, Ilan deserved the win and if it was not for Sam's help (ie. dish), it would not have been as close as it was (IMO). Your personae on the show is that of the kid picked on in school that everyone feels sorry for (hence your fans above). That being said - you come across as an A-hole who is nowhere near as talented as he thinks he is (as most chefs). I think that your behavior on the reunion proved my point - your insecurity in your personal life causes you to be grating and annoying. BTW - Sam would have smoked you in the final. If you grow up you may yet be half as good as Richard. Ciao

JohnJ
JohnJ

Marcel, I think you were and have been more unfairly treated (including at the dinner) than any other contestant in any season..I too, believe you should have won your season..The best chefs there all recognize you as a very big talent...I hope none of the abuse has damaged or discouraged you..Please keep going..I wish you all had a website where we could contact you and even see about hiring you for some corporate functions...You, Hung and Richrd are all incredible..I hope someday to be able to enjoy your cooking..I wish you the Best.....JJ

Viewer Lisa
Viewer Lisa

Marcel

This intent of this reply has nothing to do with your blog message above, although I am watching the current season and agree with your observations - and could care less about spelling errors; please, people just love to find some reason to claim superiority, don't they? It's human nature to try to knock down those we are envious of, I guess.

My intent is solely to relay my support and admiration to you; you are my favorite contestant from all of the seasons. I just watched the Top Chef dinner show last evening and found you to be as intriguing as always!

shutupash
shutupash

You used the wrong form of threw, but I still think you are awesome. Now get int he kitchen and fix me a pie!

Courtney
Courtney

I wish that my comment really had anything to do with food or top chef in general, but I just wanted to say that you were my favorite! You absolutely should have won your season and I have no idea why everyone had such a problem with you! I was completely in love with you and still have a huge crush on you!

lawayne
lawayne

Nice blog. Interesting, insightful, and a dynamite perspective. Ignore the grammer critics, and do your thing....

Viewer
Viewer

You should have won! I can't believe how the other chefs were treating you! It was disgusting! You're meals were SO much more interesting! I'm very upset about it!

Viewer
Viewer

loved your post. Thought you should have won. Would love to see you on a future top chef show. I loved that no matter what garbage the other "non-professional" chefs did you held your ground and kept it about the food. love you!!

JEN AND AMBER
JEN AND AMBER

Marcel- you are a true master at your craft and that rap you wrote on the show was the shiz! come to columbus. ps i love foam. and your raps.

Deborah
Deborah

You're absolutely amazing! I'd PAY to meet you, in person! I've never seen a contestant treated so poorly and yet maintain his composure the way you did.

I wish you the greatest successes! Please, try to remain in the public eye for the sake of your fans!

Most Sincerely, ~Deb Shaffer

JBL
JBL

Molteni! I was wondering what brand of stoves they were. Thank you Marcel.

Viewer
Viewer

Marcel, you are my all time fave TC contestant - they obviously can't admit it, but suspect Tom et al might regret not choosing you and that may even have helped Hung the next season (picking the best technical chef) Thanks for the entertaining blog!

Laura
Laura

Marcel! Glad to see you. I way liked you way more than Ilan, Ilia, and Sam (sorry for spelling on the names). I do think you should have won. Are you dictating and a machine types what you say? Too many spelling errors - Bravo, where is the editing?

Cristina
Cristina

Marcel, you are mi fav.! it's a great blog!!!!

JT
JT

Blog on Marcel. You should have won TC and not the non-talented jerk Elan.

FoamedOut
FoamedOut

If I recall correctly Marcel was the buffoon who was obsessed with foams, foams that looked like tinted spit on plates. Robbed of the top prize, I think not. When I eat I don't want to be wowed by innovative techniques, I am more interested in taste.

Marcel is the contestant that just won't go away even after a couple of seasons.

JEN AND AMBER
JEN AND AMBER

Nobody cooks or freestyles as good as Marcel- he should have won Top Chef. He was robbed.

Amy S.
Amy S.

Marcel, very enjoyable post -- you do have a lively writing style!

Last week I happened to see your Hawaii finale episode again, and I just wanted to say I was impressed again with the way you comported yourself in a difficult situation. I cannot say the same about some of your fellow competitors.

Hope to see you blogging here often. Don't be a stranger!

Karen
Karen

You have a lively and informed writing style Marcel, just let me know if you need a proofreader.

Viewer
Viewer

Viewer who posted on 9/16: you weren't nitpicking. Marcel's post would have been even more enjoyable if there were fewer spelling & grammar mistakes: Mr. Robuchon "upbraid", not "abrade" the most confident of chefs for "their", not "there" inability; "paying", not "playing" homage; preparations with "their", not "there" own style, etc.