Top Chef: All-Stars Recap
By Kim Hollis and David Mumpower
January 25, 2011
The producers of Top Chef try to pull a swerve by asking Team Etch to Judges Table first. Marcel is celebrating and even Angelo is starting to believe they have won. The judges quickly rain on their parade by stating that only 17 out of 76 customers chose their meal over Bodega's. When 78% of customers think the other dishes are better, a team has failed miserably. At the news of this, triumphant faces vanish and are quickly followed by unfortunate behavior.
As the various chefs are quizzed on what went wrong, Mike Isabella attempts to describe issues he and Marcel had in getting the food served to the customers. To his credit, he tries to describe both sides without demonizing Marcel. As we have come to know over his two seasons of participation, however, Marcel melts down over any and all criticism. He quickly tries to throw Mike under the bus. At this point, the pile on begins as Tiffany, Antonia and Angelo all describe his failures as a leader. Angelo, who had earlier stated that he would have fired Mike for his insubordination with Marcel, nods his head emphatically as Mike talks about all of the mistakes Marcel made as they attempted to plate dishes. What is readily apparent is that once Marcel realized the ship was sinking, he attempted to throw the women and children out of the way in order to save himself. And even that didn't work. Why? He made a second foam. Let's be clear about this.
Marcel Vigneron is addicted to foam.
There is no other explanation for his behavior. Foam is a method of food delivery that is considered dated, a relic of 1990s faux-fine cuisine that got left behind the same way that women's shoulder pads were taken out of the fashion world. Everyone knows this but Marcel Vigneron. The judges have tried to tell him. The other chefs have tried to tell him. We are certain that in the social media era, any number of completely strangers have texted him messages along the lines of "URSO Dumb. #FoamFail". It doesn't matter. He will not stop. He cannot stop. He must not stop. In Marcel's mind, Hans Gruber conquers Nakatomi Plaza unless the greatest chef known to mankind delivers the perfect serving of foam, thereby saving Holly Gennaro and Al Powell and maybe even Argyle the driver. Foam is just that important.
And while his fate is not revealed for a few minutes, foam also gets Marcel eliminated from Top Chef.
First, there is a victory lap for Team Bodega. Hosannas are heaped upon them for a meal worthy of the Gods. In fact, to hear the judges speak, it may have been flavored with Ambrosia. Fabio gloats about this as he has spent the better part of the episode reassuring Richard Blais that the meal is going well. Richard never believes him right up until the moments when they are revealed to have won and that Richard is declared the day's winner and therefore $10,000 richer. There is also a stark contrast between the torch and pitchfork behavior of Team Etch against Marcel and the lavish praise the other members of Team Bodega give Richard. His second win of the season exhibits that he is a chef's chef, a team player who is creative with his ideas and a dream to work with.
Counter that with Marcel, who spends the body of his elimination blaming everyone but himself for his failures. He's a punk kid with deep-set insecurities who overcompensates by pretending to possess a greatness he never demonstrates. We wish him good riddance and hope that he is never seen on Top Chef again.