Powered by i.TV
October 26, 2014

'Marcel's Quantum Kitchen' Is Not a Cooking Show ... and That's OK

by Joel Keller, posted Mar 22nd 2011 2:30PM
'Marcel's Quantum Kitchen'When I published my interview with molecular gastronomy chef Marcel Vigneron yesterday, almost immediately, someone posted a comment asking "What is a cooking show doing on Syfy?"

Good question. SyFy has suffered from channel drift lately, and since its infamously inside-the-box name change has gone away from pure science fiction programming. And, while it's hard to classify 'Marcel's Quantum Kitchen,' it's most assuredly not a cooking show. Marcel and his crew are not trying, for instance, to instruct you in the fine art of making a 30-inch long noodle made of wine or how to make a tree trunk out of beef tenderloin, braised short ribs and some meat glue.

If you take the show for what it is -- a reality show about a very unusual chef and his crew -- and bring with it a "how did they do that?" attitude, you will likely find 'Quantum Kitchen' entertaining. That is, if you're not put off by the super-spendy clients that hire Marcel to make his culinary magic, or by Marcel himself.

If you're a 'Top Chef' fan, you already have a pre-conceived notion of who Marcel is. He's competitive, to say the least, though some people would substitute the word "obnoxious" or "douchey" for the word "competitive." As Marcel told me, one of the things he hopes people get out of 'Quantum Kitchen' is a more complete picture of him, and they see that he's not the rapping tool that we've seen during both of his seasons on the Bravo cooking competition.

'Quantum Kitchen' succeeds in doing that... to an extent. In the same episode where we see Marcel really identifying with high school sweethearts who reconnected after 30 years and trying to reflect their love story in the menu for their engagement party, we also see him fighting with a demanding party planner and sneaking his plain plates onto the party site because that's his "canvas." Marcel swears up a storm when something gets screwed up, and he gets on the newest member of his team -- a former concert-venue caterer named Robyn -- when she takes a lot of time peeling apples.

In other words, Marcel is still Marcel, but at least there's some context to his less-than-social behavior. He's performing a lot of very experimental and precise cooking under pressure. Add his perfectionist nature to all that, then you might understand why the guy snaps every so often.

The two episodes SyFy sent for preview follow the same pattern: extremely wealthy client hires Marcel to cater their lavish party. After talking to them and the party planner, he plans a menu with his team: Robyn, Devon, who specializes in cool cocktails, and Jarrid, a sous chef jack of all trades. The bulk of the episode is spent in a kitchen filled with liquid nitrogen tanks and cool gadgets such as a machine that infuses something with liquid then suddenly vacuums it out. The end of the episode is spent at the party itself, where the finished product is met with oohs and aahs by the guests.

The journey Marcel and his team take to get to the final product was the most interesting part, and will be the part that satisfies the geek foodies that will be Marcel's audience. The super-lavish parties are a bit of a turn-off; in the first episode, for instance, an overly-tan woman who would fit in well on 'The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills' throws a wildlife refuge fundraiser that was so over the top that it looked like it cost more than the refuge's yearly budget.

We're also going to have to see more instances where Marcel doesn't pull off a last-second miracle; just sticking to the format described above is going to get the show into a rut very quickly. But if you're curious as to how you can turn tomato water into a foam, or how to make watermelon taste like sashimi-grade tuna, then 'Marcel's Quantum Kitchen' isn't a bad way to pass an hour.

'Marcel's Quantum Kitchen' airs Tuesdays at 10PM ET on Syfy, starting March 22.

Follow @joelkeller on Twitter and on Facebook.

Add a Comment

*0 / 3000 Character Maximum

9 Comments

Filter by:
alacs998

It IS a cooking show - and it's prettty good actually.

December 23 2011 at 3:23 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Bob

I love Marcel’s Quantum Kitchen and it looks amazing on TV in HD from DISH Network. As an employee and customer of DISH I can tell you that you can get HD free for life with any one of our Americas Top packages. More info online at www.dishnetwork.com.

April 22 2011 at 1:30 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
exitbrandon

Was this written by a 15 year old for a zine or something?

April 12 2011 at 2:57 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Jackie Ryerson

Sorry but I love Marcel. I love watching Syfy channel now that he is on. The one who was aggorant was Mike & I'm glad that he lost. He shouldn't have stolen Richard's dish & what comes around goes around. Like life "what comes around goes around".

April 03 2011 at 10:27 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
HenryJ

I find I am watching SYFY less than I was watching SCIFI - the have changed the format and it stinks!

March 29 2011 at 5:00 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Bonju Patten

I used to work for USA Network and helped launch the Sci Fi Channel and I also had the displeasure of watching TOP CHEF when Marcel competed and was an arrogant ******* throughout. He was more of an ******* than Chef Tom C and that money/fame ***** Indian presenter Palma. I will not watch Marcel ruin food on the Sci Fi channel. Hope this series dies.

March 27 2011 at 8:02 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Criscokid

This was sheer torture, looks to me like Marcel couldn't cook his way out of a meth lab. Since when does a chef put their party planner in the kitchen to prep, and then get all prissy because "she's taking too long"? ( you know that old saying right tool for the job? Same applies to manpower) How many cheese balls did he need to burst by injecting that "tomato smegma" aka tomato foam? Cheese melts the more you handle it. The birds nest, dude if you use potato (I would recommend rice sticks) think like a yenta from Tel Aviv POTATO LAKIS...it's all about the eggs. Then came that "meat log", well it looked like a log alright but not one you would find on the forest floor if you get my meaning. You served meat at an event to benefit animals....DUDE!
Oh, and about the meth lab thing, exhaling the desert smoke....case closed.

March 22 2011 at 11:05 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Criscokid's comment
HenryJ

I agree - it's too bad the former SCIFI became SYFY - they lost their focus - Marcel is a JERK - please bring back Science Fiction shows.

March 29 2011 at 4:54 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
shadowracer

What happened to Blaise's show? Now that's a chef.

March 22 2011 at 6:28 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to shadowracer's comment
HenryJ

Marcel STOLE IT !!!!!

March 29 2011 at 4:55 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
tvsquaduserid

Marcel is a chef or at least that what has been shown with him being on Top Chef. So this sure as dittle sticks doesn't belong on Scifi, Syfy yes. The substitute words you have used are too long, one with four letters would work perfectly.

March 22 2011 at 5:12 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to tvsquaduserid's comment
HenryJ

ABSOLUTELY - SYFY is no longer a Science Fiction channel - too bad!

March 29 2011 at 4:57 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Follow Us

From Our Partners