Anthony Bourdain

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

on Jan 19, 2011

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.

Antonia, who seemed to be the lone adult in the kitchen of Restaurant Etch, once again the erstwhile skipper of a ship heading straight towards a reef, said it best. Analyzing their performance after service, she immediately proclaimed it "a shitshow." As, of course it was. Marcel, still riding the magical pony in his head, Rome burned to the ground around him, in a beautiful moment of Rumsfeldian denial, refused to even do  what they call in the language of addiction, "recognize there is a problem." Back on earth, an absolutely overwhelming majority of 76 to 17 diners voted their preference for Bodega. An even cursory look at the judges faces would have told the story of how we felt. Stabby.

A chef is a leader. But a chef is also responsible for creating something that pleases. That makes people happy. Chefs, ultimately, are in the pleasure business -- not in the business of proving -- above all other things -- their unique brilliance. Marcel's seeming inability to understand that simplest of equations -- that his first responsibility is to make food that makes people happy, drove the final nail into his self constructed coffin. His equally destructive inability to understand or get along with or inspire others -- his obliviousness to the human factor -- made his elimination an easy decision. In the end, his team turned on him, joyously, a pack of gleeful attack dogs, finally let loose from their cage. Having poked them with a stick repeatedly, he handed them the key, rolled himself in meat juice for good measure, -- and let loose the dogs of war. This is a very skilled cook. Chef? Not judging from what we saw tonight.

It was a difficult decision agreeing on who to give the win. Dale did a superb job. If ever a candidate deserved to win Restaurant Wars for service alone, it was Fabio that day. But ultimately, it became clear that Richard was a deciding factor in Bodega's excellence. Notably, his fellow teammates took pains to let us know that, going out of their way to acknowledge his great work, his creative input, his steady hand. Congratulations Richard. THIS was your week.