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Apr 25, 2007 02:42 PM

Marcel Vigneron in Wired Magazine?

So, as part of their "Rave Awards" issue, they have an online feature on Marcel's cooking. Say what you will about him on Top Chef (personally, I found him repellant, but only slightly more so than some of the others), but I think it's a shame that Wired is featuring him as some sort of innovative Molecular Gastronomist. If they wanted to do a decent feature on someone in experimental cuisine they should have gone to, say, Will Goldfarb or Wylie Dufresne or Grant Achatz (or even Adria himself) instead of a groupie who is only vaguely well-known because he was on TV.

any thoughts?

(the article is available at )

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  1. I completely agree with you--Marcel was just copying other innovative chefs' tecnhiques. Bravo didn't address it, so the public never knew. Not that there's anything at all wrong with emulating a great chef, but he ended up getting billed as a creative scientist, when all he was doing was the same "one-trick pony" stuff that Ilan (wrongfully) got accused of doing. At least Ilan did his stuff well--and clearly understands textures, flavors, and ingredients.

    4 Replies
    1. re: Regan B

      Ilan was no better and a bully at that.Besides This issue has already been well talked out

      Marcel was chosen by Wired because all of the other chefs mentioned are established and have already been covered by the major food media outlets. Marcel can be marketed as an up and coming yet unheralded alternative talent.

      1. re: Withnail42

        I don't think your characterization of Marcel as an unheralded alternative talent is strictly correct. Yes, he seems to be a decent chef, and yes, he does use techniques and ingredients that have not yet been embraced in mainstream cooking; but compared to others that I mentioned, his cuisine is derivative and lacks imagination. I was disappointed by his inclusion in Wired for exactly that reason- it is not a perfect magazine, by any means, but they do have at least a partial history of doing features on various innovators in their fields (for example they wrote about brain-computer interfaces and bionic eyes much earlier than anything else I was reading at the time). True, they are not a food magazine by any stretch, but by putting someone like Marcel up there with the other smart, creative people they have featured, it gives the impression to those not in on food news that he is a major mover and/or shaker in the field of experimental cuisine, which simply isn't true.

        Oh Well. Maybe Ferran Adria was too far away and Dufresne and Goldfarb were too occupied organizing conferences.

        1. re: Lemon Curry

          I see what your saying. I just meant that the others mentioned are established and running highly regarded restaurants. I figured the magazine would want to focus on someone with some notoriety and talent but has not yet his the big time.

          1. re: Lemon Curry

            I don't know about you, but reading yet another article about an established chef who's been written about time and again would not get me to buy Wired. However, I might actually go out and buy an issue containing an article about Marcel, who I personally really liked from Top Chef.

            Whether or not *you* consider Marcel to be an innovator, in an objective universe, he is definitely doing something that most other people in the world of cooking are not. Marcel may have taken inspiration from others, but molecular gastronomy is by NO means mainstream. I'm sure the guys that created the bionic eyes you also read about in Wired magazine didn't come up with "bionic" technology all on their own either -- considering there was a mainstream television show about it in the 1970s, after all.

            I think you are being way too hard on both Marcel and Wired Magazine.

      2. In case anyone still cares -

        Coffee caviar may be derivative, but at least it didn't involve intellectual theft.
        looks like Marcel is not just unoriginal - the reason the carrot-coconut egg may have seemed oddly familiar (if you follow such things) is because he (oh snap!) stole it wholesale from wd-50:

        I have no problem with adapting current dishes to one's own style and making them new, but presenting a totally new, signature item as your own in a public forum - which Marcel does by offering no acknowledgements to Wylie Dufresene, its real inventor - is just self-serving and unethical.

        3 Replies
        1. re: Lemon Curry

          The "article" didn't include virtually any information whatsoever from Marcel or about the dishes. There were no quotes about how he invented these things or how he broke ground with any of it. So I'm not sure its fair to slam him for seeming to claim that he did....since he didn't claim anything.

          I'm not saying the guy is perfect by any stretch....but given that there was no info about anything in the piece in Wired, we have to read into everything, literally. I'm much more inclined to blame Wired for doing a shoddy job setting up the piece (ie, mentioning something like "Drawing on the work of chefs like Dufresene and Grant Asachtz...") than I am to blame the guy who was featured.

          1. re: Lemon Curry

            Half of the dishes made by Ilan were direct copies of or "inspired by" dishes served at the restaurant he worked at in NYC. Does that make him a dishonest intellectual thief?

            1. re: Lemon Curry

              lan copying the menu at Casa Mono I have less of an issue with - the stuff of pintxos and tapas has been around for a long time; throwing some iberico on a dish or adding a garnish of romesco sauce is hardly a shiny new idea to steal.

              Anyways, I don't care so much about the show - and I agree with you, ccbweb, that Wired did a poor job writing the article, and should get a fair share of the blame. However, with a dish and an idea so idiosyncratic and distinctive as this, which comes from such a high-profile and brief tradition, I think that by not giving credit to his sources, Marcel implicity takes credit for himself. Which certainly doesn't make him into any less of a tool than he may or may not have been beforehand.

              The kind of cuisine that this takes place in - molecular gastronomy, experimental cusuine, hypermodern cooking, whatever one wants to call it - is one that is quite high-profile, due to its novelty and due to its sheer inventiveness. Of course all innovation within is based on some sort of copying or riffing off of preexisting ideas - whether that means taking inspiration from Adria (which is unavoidable), or changing an existing method or dish to make it new (which is essential). I suppose that the whole Marcel debacle-thing rubs me the wrong way because he presents old ideas as his own new ones, and seems to present himself (or is presented by his handlers) as some sort of boy wonder future of science. Based on what I have seen and read myself, it is a pity Wired couldn't have made a better choice (I could think of a half-dozen, at least) if they wanted to talk about this field. However it is unsuprising, on further reflection, that they picked Marcel for their magazine - better to choose someone who the average person might recognize from TV and then buy the magazine, instead of someone only a few thousand people might be familiar with, if your main goal is to sell more. A pop culture ripoff like Marcel was bound to come into the public consciousness eventually, so I guess I shouldn't be suprised.