Note: Readers with only a limited appetite for endless Talmudic hairsplitting over chef etiquette might want to quickly scan this exchange between us and the Gurgling Cod, a blogger even more fascinated by the Marcel Egg Scandal than we are.
Grub Street, While Marcel Vigneron certainly rips off Wylie Dufresne, the charge of plagiarism does not make sense. There’s no assertion of the work's origination with Vigneron anywhere in the Wired piece that started this whole fuss. If you attend a musical performance, there is no such expectation that, say, Yo-Yo Ma wrote the cello suite he is performing. In this context, cooking is more like playing the cello than writing a book. If Dufresne wants to protect his intellectual property, he should write a book, which would be copyright protected. Like all artists, cooks rip each other off all the time. I suspect that the current mania for molecular gastronomy may work to create a notion of the molecular chef as auteur, rather than artisan, and thus these allegations of plagiarism. The Gurgling Cod
Top Chef runner-up Sam Talbot is out at what was to be his debut restaurant, Spitzer’s Corner. [Eater]
The FDA is facing increasing ire about its having largely abdicated its regulatory role. Even the produce industry wants the agency to do its job; suppliers are “virtually begging for stronger intervention.” [NYT]
Salsa mogul gives the Culinary Institute of America $35 million to advance the careers of Latin cooks and kitchen workers and to “deepen the United States’ relationship with food from Latin America.” [NYT]
Remember Marcel Vigneron, the foamy villain from last season of Top Chef? He may not be on TV anymore, but he's still causing trouble in the kitchen. The staff of wd-50 believes Vigneron ripped off a Wylie Dufresne dish in a recent issue of Wired. Grub Street has all the dirt. Or foam.
Did Marcel From 'Top Chef' Really Just Rip Off Wylie Dufresne? [Grub Street]
Marcel Vigneron, the memorably unpopular molecular gastronomist from last year’s Top Chef, can add the staff of wd-50 to the long list of people that can't stand him. The place is agog at the effrontery of Vigneron, since they believe he has brazenly ripped off one of chef Wylie Dufresne’s best-known dishes. By the looks of a feature in the current issue of Wired, Vigneron has created a showpiece dish of a “cyber egg,” the yolk of which is made of carrot-cardamom purée, surrounded by a white of hardened coconut milk. Very interesting, given that almost the exact same dish (minus a garnish of foam and carrot) has been served often at wd-50, is featured on the restaurant’s website, and, we are told by members of the staff, has been eaten by Vigneron at least twice. “It’s one thing to be inspired by a dish and to change the flavors to make it your own,” says line cook John Bignelli. “But to just steal everything? How can you do that?” Dufresne, staying above the fray, declined to comment.
Tasty Molecules From a Top Chef [Wired]
Related: ‘Top Chef’'s Marcel Doesn't Love Joël Robuchon That Much
When spring comes, branches and leaves appear in the most unexpected places. This week’s food coverage is like that: There are no huge openings, analogous to maples or firs springing up overnight, but rather a rich carpet of new sprouts and saplings. Rob and Robin glory in the pig-out that is Resto, the new Belgian restaurant on Park Avenue South; Gael Greene stops in to enjoy the immense, spanking-new Landmarc in the Time Warner Center; David Chang knows just what to do with the long-awaited, precious ramps in In Season; and other unexpected treats, from a waterside barbecue in one of the Short Lists to a slew of spring Openings fill out the foliage.
Alain Ducasse speaks out on his restaurants, his rivalry with Joël Robuchon, and the challenge of running a global empire. But his most pointed remarks are about molecular gastronomy: “I prefer to be able to identify what I’m eating.” [Bloomberg]
BLT Market, Laurent Tourondel’s entry into the Haute Barnyard sweepstakes, has been pushed back to August. [RG]
“Hipster chef” Sam Mason’s new Internet TV show gets love in the Daily News, which swooningly describes him as “witty, goateed and extremely good-looking.” But you already knew that. [NYDN]
Related: The Launch
The Food & Wine Best New Chef parties were pretty good — especially the after-party at the Spotted Pig. We wonder who that unnamed chef doing shots all night could possibly be. Are his initials M.B.? [Mouthing Off/Food & Wine]
Joe Jr.’s coffee shop is becoming a cult favorite among well-heeled Manhattanites – one even rented it out for a party and put up a disco ball. [Mouthing Off/Food & Wine]
Top Chef runner-up Sam Talbot to open an already trendy eatery on the Lower East Side, but his liquor-license papers seem not to be in order yet. [Eater]
We’ve heard that mixed in with the usual assortment of line cooks, caterers, and wannabes on Top Chef’s next season will be a bona fide NYC cook: Joe Paulino, top banana at Café des Artistes. A restaurant manager claimed to be “in shock” when we asked him to confirm that Paulino will be a contestant — Bravo no doubt swears everyone to secrecy — but he admitted that executive sous-chef Kelvin Fernandez is running the kitchen while Paulino is on “vacation”; meanwhile, a lower-level employee told us he knew all about Paulino's being on Top Chef. (The Bravo publicist we spoke to asked if she could call us back later.) Looks like we’ve already got a favorite.
While Ilan Hall wanders around airports wearing street couture (or did you not read about that?), Josie Malave, voted off Top Chef early in the game, has ditched her Marlow & Sons sous-chef job to become executive chef at Island Café Bar and Lounge. The two-floor, 220-seater, set to open in March, will serve locally farmed, Mediterranean-themed tapas. We believe Malave when she tells us that she’s “actually happy” to have escaped Top Chef when she did. After all, some “seed money” winnings can (apparently) mess with a young cook’s head.
Island Café Bar and Lounge, 35-15 36th St., Long Island City; no phone yet.
The phrase “molecular gastronomy” has been thrown around a lot recently, most often in reference to high-tech, high-concept cookery practiced by pointy-haired runner-up Marcel Vigneron on Top Chef. Chow’s currently showing a slideshow that breaks down the art as practiced by one of its greatest masters, Grant Achatz of Chicago restaurant Alinea.
Well, hey, who'd have thunk it? Turns out Ilan won Top Chef. (Of course he did. No surprise ending has been this preordained since John Faso thought he stood a chance against Spitzer.) But, still, even though the result wasn't in doubt, the great existential question of reality television demands attention: What did it mean? Thankfully, Grub Street's Josh Ozersky joined New York's favorite couch potato, Adam Sternbergh, to answer just that question. Read their colloquy on Grub Street.
Ilan Won, Yes, But What Does It All Mean? [Grub Street]
Bruni ponders bathrooms, giving a shout-out to Grub Street's Restroom Report; apparently the Sultan had a pretty nasty encounter with the ones at Gordon Ramsay. [NYT]
Hamptons officials loosen up and consider lifting the music ban in restaurants — if there's very tight regulation of it. [NYP]
E! wrap-up on the Top Chef finale, including a plate-by-plate account of the competition’s Last Supper, which is more interesting, to us anyway, than whether Ilan got his money and new oven. [E!]
Related: Ilan Won, Yes, But What Does It All Mean?
At this point, we have no idea whether Ilan Hall will take the Top Chef title tonight — after a profile of him as winner leaked on Food & Wine’s Website, the magazine revealed that they also profiled Marcel as champ. But there’s one thing we do know, and it’s exclusive: Ilan’s “underground favorite” restaurant. In an interview a few weeks back, Hall recommended Chez Le Chef, speaking highly of Chef Frédéric Piepenburg, himself a minor celebrity. “It’s really tasty, old-world Austrian and French food,” said Hall. “You can order breakfast in bed, and he’ll deliver the whole meal in a basket, picnic-style. Just give him 24 hours in advance. He bakes all his breads, he makes all his desserts. He’s this crazy old baker that has this gigantic moustache that sort of connects to his hair. I think the restaurant is also his apartment. There’s no one like him.” — Jada Yuan
Yesterday’s Ilan Hall winner profile? Just one of two we had ready, says Food & Wine. Read Marcel's. [Food & Wine]
Related: 'Top Chef' Winner Revealed — For Real! [Grub Street]
Bruni weighs in on Top Chef, giving the cooking elements of the show a surprising amount of respect. [NYT]
Sara Dickerman looks at the new wave of cooking shows and finds them all totally ridiculous — but entertaining. [Slate]
Want to know if all those rumors about the Top Chef winner were right? Well, that's easy to do: Some poor schmuck at Food & Wine magazine made the "pack your knives and go"–level error of posting an interview with the winner to the mag's Website early. It was soon removed, but not before some readers mastered the copy-and-paste functions. Some non-spoiled tidbits? The winner found judge Padma "mesmerizingly beautiful," he likes his chicken skin extra-crispy, and he has what is often referred to as "Tin-Tin-ish" hair. Want to know more? Go ahead and click — just don't say we didn't warn you.
‘Top Chef’ Winner Revealed For Real! [Grub Street]
Breaking: Top Chef Finale Spoiled AGAIN [Eater LA]
Around the time he helmed the kitchen at Williamsburgh Café, before becoming an executive chef at Punch and then a contestant on Top Chef, Forbes named Sam Talbot one of the city’s up-and-coming chefs and Zink declared him one of its sexiest: “He is like a girl when it comes to shopping and grooming himself,” his Bravo bio reads. Unfortunately this didn’t cut it with the judges, and Sam was kicked to the curb on this week’s penultimate episode. Admirers will be happy to hear, however, that he’s still zipping around on his Vespa and consulting with the owners of Fat Baby on their two new Lower East Side restaurants. We asked him what he ate this week and learned that he likes his food cheap but solid aside from his monthly splurge at Nobu.