This week’s Top Chef: All Stars was a tale of two pop-up restaurants, as the chefs divided into teams and opened their own eateries. One team's Mediterranean-style spot, Etch, was plagued with problems from the very start, with poor communication and bickering leading to disastrous food.
In the end, the judges assigned blame to team leader Marcel Vigneron and the self-described “most notorious and diabolical contestant of Top Chef history” packed his knives. We chatted with him about his love of foam, what he's doing next, and why he’ll never do the show again.
What went wrong last night? How did your teammates let you down?
I think I was an easy target. I had the disadvantage from the start. My other teammates knew that. If the ship goes down the captain goes with it. I feel like Mike Isabella and Tiffany in particular, they knew that. They didn’t really go to bat for me at all. They totally set me up and let me down. I get popped for lack of leadership but no one listened to me. Am I at fault for being a bad leader? Or are they at fault for being bad cooks who don’t listen to their chef? They made it look like we had problems in the kitchen that transcended to the front of the house. But in actuality, the front of the house was impacting the back of house as opposed to the other way around.
How do you feel about your portrayal on the show? Have you been accurately represented?
I’m not allowed to talk about editing. But I will say that I think the portrayal is interesting and it’s definitely a version of what happens. You get bits and pieces but you never get the big picture. I thought that the episode was difficult to watch because you never get the info that leads up to certain incidents. I’m not the type of person to fly off the handle for no reason, but they’ll usually just show the most interesting or dramatic segments.
I’m an extremely passionate person and I wear my heart on the sleeve. A lot of the other contestants—Dale and [Mike] Isabella—trash talk on interviews, but never say anything to my face. So, for me, it’s kind of childish. I think that you’re gonna find a lot of contestants saying similar things—they’ll tell you about the real me, who’s actually a considerate person and a really nice guy. It’s a shame that I get portrayed in a certain way, but I’m apparently that guy for the show.
Do you stand behind your dessert?
Absolutely. Several of the guests enjoyed it. All the other contestants had tried the dish and we all agreed that it was good. Tiffany came back repeatedly to tell me that everyone enjoyed it. I thought it was ironic that the judges didn’t like it because I used the same [coconut-milk powder] product that I used in my Season Two finale that they absolutely loved. In this particular incident they did not. I’m not really sure what happened.
Can you explain your addiction to foam?
It’s a great way to convey a nice sauce without having a dense texture. The jamon air was delicious—Fabio drank three bowls of it. Several other people did airs. Angelo, [Richard] Blais. I only did foam twice out of 16 different dishes that I made. If people want to play it up, it’s fine. For me, it’s just another technique.
What was the highlight of the All-Star experience?
Fishing in Montauk. I used to commercial salmon fish in Alaska. I ended up catching three 30lb striped bass, so that was really fulfilling. I enjoyed cooking with Fabio and Richard, despite what Richard says. We actually had a lot of fun making the show. There was quite a bit of camaraderie. I made a lot of friends. They kind of broke the mold with All Stars and had some really fun challenges.
What’s next for you?
My show, Marcel’s Quantum Kitchen, is premiering March 7, on the SyFy network. My friends and I set up our own catering company and we cater parties for some high profile clients in the Los Angeles area. I try to spend a lot of time with the clients, to understand who they are, so when I create the menu with my team, you can see direct inspiration from my clients in the dishes. The show involves the science of cooking quite a bit. And you’ll see a different side of me that’s not shown on Top Chef.
Can we expect to see you on Top Chef again?
I would not do the show again. I don’t need people portraying me in a false light or making me out to be something I’m not.
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