Anthony Bourdain

Anthony Bourdain describes what it must be like in "Marcel Land."

on Jan 19, 20110

In part two of the challenge, I asked the top four to do what every good cook, in every great cooking culture -- what talented home cooks, grandmothers, street food vendors, chefs, and hungry people struggling to make something delicious out of not very much -- have been doing since the beginning of time: make something delicious and enticing out of those pieces that the wealthy, the lazy, and the entitled often consign to the garbage. This is exactly what defines a good cook -- throughout history. And if you look at China, Brazil, Spain, Italy, France -- anywhere where people were compelled historically to make the most out of every little bit -- the ability to make the tough, the ugly, the bony, and scraggly into something loved, respected, and even revered --
is the fundamental engine of good cooking. In the annals of cooking, people learned to cook well -- more often than not -- because they had to. Those who understood this and who embraced this challenge, performed exceedingly well. And in the end, it was a tight, three-way race for immunity. Ironically, many of the dishes and preparations that have come to be known as "Nose to Tail" cooking, have been recognized over time as actually better than the easy stuff. The Chinese, for instance, the Portugese, and many other cultures have come to understand that the head of the fish is actually the best part. This was an opportunity to shine -- and to their credit, Mike Isabella, Richard, and Dale "got" it right away. Dale made a winning sashimi with the meat from along the fins with a brilliant sauce made from the fluke's liver. Also, a very tasty fish collar in bacon dashi. Mike Isabella did a pan-roasted fish belly with charred collar in olive oil, highlighting the different flavors and textures of the subtly different parts.
Richard made a schnitzel of cod belly. All three highlighted not just the flavors at hand, but the wonderfully different textures.
Marcel, as he has done so many times, put his considerable skills to work in the cause of his own brilliance -- and ignored what makes these elements so distinctive and wonderful. His dish was very, very tasty (and yes, I did taste the excellent broth), but rather than take advantage of the variety of textures at his disposal, he muscled the ingredients into submission, running them through a sieve and basically, turning them into mush. Good flavor. Texturally? Insipid. He missed, typically, the whole point: all those crispy, sticky, slippery, cartilaginous, buttery, meaty differences right beneath his nose. Dale, who seemed happiest with this challenge, demonstrated why: he took to it as if he'd been waiting his whole life. Richard and Mike made very fine, well thought-through dishes. But Dale's really creative, superior offering won him immunity. It was, as someone pointed out, however, a horse race.

And then, it was on to Restaurant Wars, everybody's favorite Elimination Challenge. I know I look forward to it. Here's an opportunity for the chefs to show us everything they've got -- all the qualities one looks for in a Top Chef: speed, skill, strength, creativity, smarts, maturity -- and leadership.

Dale, given the advantage of choosing the opposing team's captain,  shrewdly (and at one stroke) rid himself of any possibility of having to work with his arch enemy -- and rolled a ticking time bomb straight into any team he might face by picking Marcel, notoriously the worst leader of the bunch, a man with truly awful -- some might say pathologically bad -- people skills. 

136 comments
Joe Michaels
Joe Michaels

My GOD, sir! You are hilarious! I hear your voice as I read this. A brilliant writer/ thinker/chef/person. I've GOT to pick up your books...

busgran
busgran

VEIWER, Hopefully you are being ironic with the spelling of your name. It should be spelled VIEWER. And before you rag on a successful and brilliant writer such as Tony Bourdain, who has paid MORE dues than you or Marcell could hope to, learn some spelling basics. Remember: i before e, etc.

MommyLisa
MommyLisa

Brilliant. Love you Bourdain.

conspiracy theory
conspiracy theory

Now i know why Jen was kicked off for sure! there is no way the producers would of let her participate in the Le Bernardin quickfire challenge! she worked at Le Bernardin for 5 years with Justo and is the chef of Eric Riperts restaurant in philly! very interesting.....

AwesomeMar
AwesomeMar

@ Agnes Oconnor

One of the most important things in a kitchen (or in any work environment) is respect for ones coworkers. In their original seasons both Marcel and Tiffani were rude and condescending to the other chefs in the kitchen. Kudos to Tiffani for adjusting her attitude and coming to All Stars ready to be more of a team player. Sadly Marcell didn't learn anything from his first time around. He came back just as graceless as he'd left. Talking down to his fellow chefs, never admitting when they had done a good job, and rapping at them is not classy.

I am interested to know what you would consider " a fair or realistic opportunity to judge any of its contestants' leadership skills." I myself can't think of a better way for chefs to exhibit leadership than in a mock restaurant, but I'd love to hear any ideas you have.

And Dave Martin was not drunk on the season 1 finale. Drinking on the line is actually pretty common and he was pretty restrained. I'm guessing you don't have much back of house experience. No one sabotaged Tiffani's dishes but herself. Tiffani took on too much by make two separate plates for each course. Nothing Dave could have done would've gotten her out of the weeds, but maybe if she'd been nicer to him throughout their season he would have been more willing to try.

MediumRawRocks
MediumRawRocks

Agreed. Hysterical and completely spot on. I love you Tony!

gretchenB
gretchenB

"I tell you, it's a mystery to me what goes on in that talented young man's head. I can only guess that in Marcel World, it's always 1998, the sky is filled with magical ponies who shit foam -- and appreciate Marcel's rap stylings -- and everybody does exactly what Marcel thinks they should do -- perfectly. And if things go wrong, everybody agrees instantly that it's certainly not Marcel's fault. In Marcel Land, Ferran Adria never existed. Nor did Wylie Dufresne, or Heston Blumethal, or Grant Achatz. He thought all of that stuff up himself. In Marcel Land, what everybody wants is more foam -- they can't get enough! And liquid nitrogen. And gels and powders. Restaurant dining rooms are packed with beautiful women, shuddering with desire and anticipation for foam, foam, and more foam and hardened Crips shrink from his approach."

YOU. ARE. A. GENIUS.

Bobbymouse
Bobbymouse

My favorite show and after RHOBH, the ONLY show on Bravo!!!!

Cat in the Hat
Cat in the Hat

I don't know what to think about Marcel, yes he does some off as extremely arrogant, but he is also dedicated to making excellent food. Agree that he needs to listen more and lose the foam. But Mike I is a loose cannon too, so fireworks are inevitable with those two.

As for the winning team... I think they should have split the money as each and every one performed at a high level.

kristaintexas
kristaintexas

i noticed! i used to really like tiffany, now i think she plays dirty...lowering her eyes after she diverted the question of her horrible service "uh-oh, i didnt mean to mention the fighting going on in the kitchen. id rather talk about how i blew it in restaurant wars"...she is willing to throw others under the bus for that title. ugh.

Val-OH
Val-OH

Whoa, that is so interesting. Now I'm going to be thinking about what you said every time I see the chefs using it!♥

Candi379
Candi379

It's not defamation if it is true.

Smartie
Smartie

Well-said! I would have dearly loved to reciprocate a scathing reply to Bourdain's post, but you created better, more cogent contentions. I am in complete and utter agreement that Bourdain's entry contained vicious points that were unnecessary, albeit "amusing" for the general reader. In fact, I thought his post was bordering on outright calumny, because it was evidently, (EVIDENTLY) biased.

Though Marcel may not be the most personable person on Top Chef, he had a voracious passion for food and a copious amount of talent--that alone earned much of my respect for him. And as you pointed out, this is a cooking competition, and an impartial one at that--however, although better chefs have been eliminated early on, (Marcel), Bourdain's biting and childish outtake on Marcel's personality is superfluous in terms of what the show was truly about. Sure, leadership was important in this challenge, but less so compared to the food itself--which, Bourdain spent relatively little on compared to the rampant raging on Marcel's lackluster leadership.

A personable chef? Indeed, that's important. But not as important as Bourdain made it out to be. He wrote an extraordinarily judgmental blog entry, something which is so...brimming with nastiness in comparison to Mr. Colicchio's blog. Bourdain barely knows the guy...and yet he posses such an unwarranted sense of self importance. In complete agreement with your other point as well--that Bourdain is only, and ONLY a notorious writer and chef. Doesn't make him better than anyone else, just "notorious."

I'd like to add that Bourdain is the wimp incarnate. He can barely say the criticism to a contestant's face other than when hiding beneath the shadow of the judges' table. First episode, Fabio called him out because Boredain insulted his dish--and guess who turned beet red? You tell 'em Fabio, you tell 'em.

Sorry if I digressed. I didn't think I had much to add to your superb post. So that's why mine is tacked on here.

Batana
Batana

I enjoy your No Reservations show and I love your blog. As I read your blogs, I can hear you talking like you do when you are talking on No Reservations. What I enjoy most about your blogs is that you don't hold back, you tell it like it is. It makes me laugh and I look forward to seeing you as a judge each week and if you are not on the show, then I look forward to reading your blog.

Beanz
Beanz

Amen to that. God works through Marcel to show us the ugly side of beauty. And for that i'm usually grateful; the brief flash of truth in the dark that you will always remember seeing, light that was just there and gone. It's why I liked some of my best buddies in high school and college, because they were brilliant, and ironically enough considered assholes by and large because of their unrelenting nonconformity. I'm not in love with such types, but I appreciate the truth and respect fine craft (and understand that anything else is simply simpering, barking Betty to one degree or another).

I'm not sure why, but I think i'd just like wolf-wolf (remember Eddie Munster's doll? Well Marcel had a beard at one point and...). It's why I appreciate the ascerbic, sarcastic and irreverent Bourdain's work; he calls 'em as he sees 'em. I have a feeling I'd like you too for some reason j. I've always liked the outsiders.

topchefsuperfan
topchefsuperfan

I believe that if you look up the word 'maturity' in the dictionary, you will find a picture of Marcel in the antonym category.

Chef Valerina
Chef Valerina

Hi Anthony! Always love your blogs. I personally cannot stomach Marcel's personality. I do believe he is delusional, immature, foam-addicted, arrogant, cocky, rude and much more! I think I might recall one somewhat funny comment he might have made during the fishing episode but other than that, nothing significant comes to mind regarding Marcel except what a huge jerk he is. Was so happy to see him go home. Your blog was completely accurate and just maybe he will get it and do some self reflection. This kid will NEVER become successful behaving in the fashion that he does and the sooner he gets that, the easier his life will become. Because I think he could actually become a great Chef if he "got it". I am so happy you are on the show. You always make it more entertaining. So glad Bravo came up with this idea for the Top Chef all stars. The fishing episode was completely hilarious...I thought it showed the Chefs at their funniest and the editing was perfection. The comments they all made about each other were so funny but not mean or cruel. I am thoroughly enjoying this and hope there is another season of Top Chef All Stars in the future. And did I mention that Fabio is the bomb!!! I don't care if that man can cook or not...he's nice to look at, so entertaining and funny as hell!!!

G8R
G8R

Well said!

Omar
Omar

I know Bourdain is a big "The Wire" fan - in season 5, Michael sets Duquan ("Dookie") up to be in charge of his corner crew - but Dookie commands no respect and they won't do as he says. They call him a "little b***h" and won't even tell him if the count is right when he asks. Michael takes him off the corner and sets him up to be basically a babysitter for his little brother Bugs.

Obviously, the analogy is that Marcel is Dookie - not only not commanding respect over those he's appointed to lead, but instead earning their derision and name-calling as they reject him as a leader. Just as Dookie is not Kingpin material, Marcel is clearly not a Top Chef in any sense of the word. He might be a decent cook, but a Chef is a leader in the kitchen, and a Top Chef would be someone who commands the respect of those leaders, someone like an Eric Ripert. Not a Dookie or a Marcel.

Hal Sullivan
Hal Sullivan

Mr. Bourdain, Have you ever considered being a contestant on Top Chef Masters? I think it should be a requirement for all Top Chef judges.

A NJ Vegetarian Who Loves You Tony
A NJ Vegetarian Who Loves You Tony

Tony, You gave me four very loud belly laughs reading this. Your blog on this show is a pleasure and a joy. And SPOT ON. You nail the contestants, their strengths and weaknesses in a very insightful and entertaining way.

You'd hate me because I'm a vegetarian, but I love you, sir!

Sausalito Viewer
Sausalito Viewer

Marcel lets his ego get the best of whatever maturity and professionalism he has.

Rich sims
Rich sims

Tony, every aspiring chef should be forced to read and memorize your recent blog!

B-moreFan
B-moreFan

Love this blog post from Bourdain - spot-on analysis that had me lol. I would not be surprised if some of the long-winded comments were not posted by Marcel himself. I could totally see him waisting his time by creating various profiles with different email addresses.

LastoftheZucchiniFlowers
LastoftheZucchiniFlowers

This was my favorite comment of the blog! The visual is priceless......hey, Can TC pay some hardened crips to judge a show? I mean 'former hardenend crips' like the ones from the new 'Scared Straight?"

LastoftheZucchiniFlowers
LastoftheZucchiniFlowers

A bit tangential, so forgive me in advance: I also use liquid nitrogen in my job as a dermatologist TO DESTROY LESIONS. I would urge caution with large amounts of this substance which may be 'interesting' and the hallmark of molecular kitchens from Alinea to WD40 and all the copycats in between. This substance is capable of decimating skin cells from dermis to the fascia below. When we use it on you in the office during procedures, the intention is the lesions removal via destroying the layers below. When spilled - it's an OSHA emergency and I don't believe enough is known about 'eating or drinking it' to call it entirely safe. Senor Tony - pass it on? PLEASE use caution. I agree that Grant A is brave young man. But orophayrngeal squamous cell carcinoma of the tongue has historically been an old man's DZ. An old man who drank and smoked for 50 years and used Mongolian Fire all on his cheerios or chewed many a betel nut in the Eastern populations. Bourdain, As one who is considered an authority - it would not be a terrible idea for you to consider urging caution with LN2 in commercial kitchens. Head and Neck CA is increasing in young men and in Grant's case - he had NONE of the typical risk factors. This bears closer inspection, at least until more is known about potential carcinogenesis of LN2 in the oral cavity/digestive tract. Much obliged and apologies for the swerve. PS - Marcel is immature. Weren't we ALL assholes at his age? He'll be back though - his tenacity will force a return on some level. - ciao

Shr00m7
Shr00m7

Its not just Foams, it's Marcel's Foams- he does them at the wrong time or too often- i think all of the judges and Chef's would agree that if it enhances the dish it is ok, but more often than not Marcel's foams are detracting from the dish.

jjgg5
jjgg5

I'm sorry that Marcel was given the boot. He's one cool looking guy.

Lvit2Bieber
Lvit2Bieber

NapaMalibu...if you are a Top Chef fan you might remember Ryan and Mark the Kiwi discussing movies for food themes in season 4 and Ryan saying 'All I hear out of his mouth is Wah Wha Wah'...Et Tu Brute!!! As Eric Ripert might say ferme la bouche si vous plait!!

Alexandra franchina
Alexandra franchina

I like Anthony as a judge as he is harsh but very true to the chefs. The only problem I have is that he uses the word monchromatic in very episode!!! Get a new word dude!!! xx Big fan of the show!!!

Lvit2Bieber
Lvit2Bieber

In lieu of a new TCM episode this week I have amused myself by rereading ALL of Chef Bourdains blogs and found myself laughing aloud. His comments are snarky to the nth and refreshingly honest; if it tastes like crap, it's probably crap, if you go all wonderbread ghetto on your fellow contestants you should get a spatula up side yo head. In my head unicorns and ponies aren't pooping foam...Anthony Bordain is hosting next years Golden Globes...HEY...a girl can dream!!

viewer99999
viewer99999

Somebody need to tell Marcel that foam on food looks like spit..yuck

Bev C
Bev C

Well, I must say there are definitely two sides to every story. No doubt Marcel has skills, they just aren't the inspirational, 'I want to play on your team' ones. Looking back at his S2 finale even Sam who was generally a mild mannered person found him hard to take. I will miss the comedy/tragedy of his presence though. Some say he had an uncooperative team that stabbed him in the back. He picked them. Carla was picked last and by default. Not that I would want to subject her to Mikey I, but she could have assisted in calming the personality clashes. Angelo (the snake) made a vapid attempt at this, and he was correct in saying Mike I should have been cut off at the ankles. I wonder.. he usually is quick to put more than 2 cent in other peoples problems. Guess he was 'confident' his dish would save him so he took a page from Jamie's book of disappearing acts. Tiffani D did the only thing left to do when you find yourself in a dysfunctional situation that you can't change; she got out of the way. I think Antonia did the same. But on to the good news. Dale and his team of true competitors assessed the situation and played to the strengths of each member. You don't have to be an amazing chef to earn praise, although this team has excellent chefs. Good teamwork and planning wins over 'I'm the star' and 'you can't tell me what to do' and 'drama kings'. Fabio is the master at front of the house. Carla is the queen of desserts. Richard and Dale are great at creative direction and troubleshooting when an issue arises. The only thing that could have made the win better was if they all shared the prize. In the world of reality television some of us want to see less of hating and backstabbing and more of America's got talent. Please.

AlexMPruteanu
AlexMPruteanu

Always a great read, this blog. Have just recently discovered your "No Reservations" gig, now on Netflix. I'm having a blast thinking that, if Hunter S. Thompson were to be alive, you both could co-host. Imagine the "bad craziness." Cheers.

HiDesertDiner
HiDesertDiner

Just finished watching the extended judges table and Bourdain, ya' nailed it. Marcel forgot about the pleasure of eating. When Ludo said his dish was like mush...and no texture....bingo. We all love....LOVE food. Pick your favorite snack, cookie, meal....we all LOVE food. No matter, fat, thin, athlete or couch potato; we all want to feel the crunch, savor the juicy and have a sort of mental "purr" over something creamy and smooth as it goes down our throats. From appetizer to desert, we eat to nourish, we eat to survive...we dine out for pleasure - to enjoy the meal and the company we eat with. To celebrate....Maybe Marcel should think about that the next time he enters a kitchen....even his own, unless his patrons are all over 80 and wear dentures.

Firinne11
Firinne11

Unbelievable, Richard is an example of a true leader, people want to follow his lead, not because they are forced to, not because of any power he may have over them, but because they wanted to be by his side. Marcel may not have had the power to send anyone home, but he certainly did not play to the strengths of his team. Sidelong comments and nit-picky criticism do not a leader make. You can blame editing, but it was clear that he had difficulty taking criticism as well as working with others.

Two cents
Two cents

Oops "Two cents" here, misspelling "Bourdain". How two cents of me. My apologies to the Chef!

Two cents
Two cents

I TOTALLY agree with your comment wishing Fabio had been the co-winner. He kept Hot Head Dale from errupting all over the kitchen and all over Richard's creative efforts/win. Fabio was definitely the spirit behind Bodega's success.

I also TOTLLY agree with your assessment of Chef Bordain's depiction of "Marcel-Land"! Brilliant.

BaldBabs
BaldBabs

But yet time and again other contestants are put in the same position as Marcel, "leadership without any authority whatsoever", and they do lead. Your argument is flawed.

phillyrosetta
phillyrosetta

Uh, NapaMalibu: Dude, were we even watching the same episode? You got a thing for miniWolverines? Let's forget about his previous temper tantrums, his inability to both see and respect the talents of the other chefs (I do recall the season beginning with him claiming only Trey as his competitor, as if the other contestants were merely filler and not worthy of threat consideration), and for shits and giggles, I'll even lay off the foam, something this bugger just can't manage despite the regular and deserved floggings he gets for plating them. If so many other cheftestants can manage Restaurant Wars without the threat of withholding a paycheck, why can't Marcel? Dale, like so many other winners in the past, collaborated with his fellow chefs. Once Marcel couldn't shove his wishes down their throats, he essentially pouted. And also, any manager worth his salt knows being right is never enough, anyway. You must have the ability to inspire and convince those around you that you have their best interests at heart and then proceed to convert the doubtful. These are skills Marcel clearly lacks, and shows no desire to acquire, if one takes his juvenile responses into account. Upon being sent home, this blowhard still chose to deny having any responsibility for the outcome of the evening, yet that foul dessert alone qualifies him for knife packing status. Unreal. And what the hell was that hip hop rant he threw at Dale after the Dim Sum challenge? Can he pretty please perform that in West Philly so I can observe, watch the aftermath and proceed to laugh my ass off? I'll be a good girl, promise!

pure grace
pure grace

WHY DO PEOPLE HAVE TO WRITE A BOOK ON THIS BLOG ? ONE OR TWO SENTENCES PLEASE, BEYOND THAT, YOU'RE A BORE . I DON'T THINK THE COLONOSCOPY JOKES ARE FUNNY. YOU HAVE USED THEM ONE TIME TOO MANY.

IShouldBeTheMod
IShouldBeTheMod

Truer words were never typed. Please, PLEASE don't waste time typing how good the blog is. Just comment on the content!

ralpha
ralpha

So like the Quickfires show like how inept the chef-testants are. Everyone has weaknesses. Immunity should be granted only to those who know how to train seals to fetch at Seaworld like.

Ticked off Texan
Ticked off Texan

Did anyone notice Tiffany's artful dodge at the judge's table when they wanted to discuss FOH? WOW! I’m not sure if she succeeded or failed horribly (editing) because I sure picked up on it! Have to say, I was insulted when she played dumb about bringing up the confrontation on the line. Come on Tiffany...grow some!

I think they were right to send Marcel home (after all, he did make that eye soar of a desert), but I almost wish they would have sent Tiffany home for that unskillful slide of hand!

PaTCaddict44
PaTCaddict44

What was the purpose of editing this episode to spotlight Fabio? Was it supposed to be a red herring? If so, that stinks, considering the outstanding job he did. Not only did he direct service and handle the front of the house, he made a stellar dessert (quite an accomplishment, as many have crashed & burned before him) AND lent a calm & steady influence in the kitchen. If being a chef is being a leader, this shows it in spades. Look, I like Richard as much as anyone; Team Bodega worked cohesively & cmoothly to make a whole experience. They also had Dale's short slide into Hissyland and Richard's anxiousness was evident-BOTH of which Fabio handled deftly. You only need to look at Team Etch's meltdowns in and out of the kitchen to truly appreciate the huge part played by the steady hand (and head) of Fabio. When Dale picked him for this challenge, he KNEW he had the secret weapon the other team lacked. Tom marveled at the service, Anthony nearly wet himself over the dessert, and then they went to the judges' table and chose Richard. I like everyone on Team Bodega but, on this night, Fabio was the MVP. He should've at least shared the win.

BIDDYBELLE
BIDDYBELLE

You need to give respect in order to receive respect.

sephigirl
sephigirl

Did you READ Marcel's bio here on this site? He says himself he considers himself a "cook."

UncleSweden
UncleSweden

New Rockband name: "Foamshitting Ponies" Hilarious blog Anthony

mary agnes oconnor
mary agnes oconnor

ty ty ty. i knew marcel reminded me of someone. just couldn't think who.