If you’re a fan of Top Chef, then you know Marcel Vigneron, the feisty purveyor of molecular gastronomy who has had a rough time on TV. In season two of Top Chef he got his head forcibly shaved by his drunken fellow contestants and this year he was unfairly (says Marcel) ejected from Top Chef All Stars. Now, he’s putting all of that behind him as he embarks on a new series that he says will show the world the real Marcel.
Ready or not, here comes, Marcel’s Quantum Kitchen and you won’t find it on Bravo, TLC or even the Food Network. This cooking show is a Syfy original and it marks another step in their quest to become less about scifi and more about creativity and imagination.
From the description, Marcel’s Quantum Kitchen sounds like a culinary Mythbusters, combining food and science to create wild dishes such as watermelon cubes that taste and look like tuna and Tiger’s Breath, a frozen confection that produces a wisp of white smoke when you eat it. Unfortunately, preparing the molecular treats takes a back seat to the reality side of the show that has Marcel working as a party caterer. And yes, this really is a new show on Syfy.
Each week Marcel and his team, mixologist and chef Devon Espinosa, cook, jack-of-all-trades and artist Jarrid Masse, and assistant cook and caterer Robyn Wilson are tasked with creating and executing a menu that combines their talents with a specific theme. In the first episode, which airs Tuesday, March 22 at 10:00, it’s a “Walk on the Wild Side” as they cater a small fundraiser, cocktail party for the Wildlife Waystation. In the second episode, they must cater a romantic dinner party at a location that is far, far away from a working kitchen.
As with all reality shows of this kind, the episode goes from, “how can we ever do this in time!” to humorous brainstorming, to the inevitable slipup (We burned the fruit leather! Now we don’t have a sample for the client who is due here in ten minutes!) to the final execution. There are plenty of squabbles, like when Marcel was “forced” to use his white plates at the last minute after the party planner told him do that and die and there are plenty of oohs and ahs over food that doesn’t look so good on screen. Wildlife theme or not, do people really enjoy eating beef that has been shaped to look like a felled tree? They’re raising money for a facility that protects animals, but one of the dishes is an edible egg in a bird’s nest. Oh yes, that’s showing concern for our animal friends. Let’s eat their young! The spaghetti scene in Lady and the Tramp was very sweet, but making a couple slurp a single noodle out of a martini glass while their guests look on? Just gross.
Marcel’s Quantum Kitchen is entertaining in the same way as Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, but is that really where Syfy wants to go with their new line-up? If the show would spend more time on the actual mechanics of molecular gastronomy it would be far more interesting, like a culinary Mr. Wizard. Now that’s a show I’d tune in every week to see.
Marcel’s Quantum Kitchen airs Tuesdays at 10:00 on Syfy
Photo by: Evans Vestal Ward/Syfy