Photo Credit: SyFy
Chef Marcel Vigneron, formerly of Top Chef fame, has become a master of science-based culinary techniques. You may know him best for his now-infamous foams -- either that, or for his dipsy-do hairstyle and unpredictable temperament in the kitchen.
Now, Marcel is unveiling a new show on SyFy that follows the next phase of his career -- a catering company that aims to pull off extraordinary events and celebrations. Marcel recently chatted about the exciting new show, and here's what he had to say.
SyFy is not exactly known for cooking shows, so how did you end up on the channel?
Marcel: Well I know it seems kind of like an abstract fit, but once you actually see the show I feel like it's totally going to make sense. And one of the ways we bridge that gap between SyFy doing a cooking show and me being on it, is the fact that we focus in on a lot of the same things. SyFy is all about imagining greater, which is essentially what my culinary team and I are all about.
We have the same basic philosophy, and we focus in a lot on the scientific aspect of cooking. So you've got a lot of like science, and it's kind of educational. But at the same time, it's all about creativity and teamwork.
Will we be seeing more about the man behind the food? Do you expose any parts of your personal life?
Marcel: Yes, totally, you will indeed. For every episode, for every event that we cater, I typically like to get together with my clients and spend a couple days with them doing whatever it is that they do. That way I can kind of get inside their head and find out what they're all about.
So often we'll be going out and, for example, we cater a party for [Steve Walden], this legendary surfboard shaper, and so I go out surfing with him to really develop inspiration for this party. So we step outside of the kitchen a bit and you will get the opportunity to see what we do outside of it.
How did you get interested in cooking in general, and at what point did molecular gastronomy become your passion?
Marcel: I got interested in cooking at a very young age, and that was partially because my mom was cooking when I was growing up. She would take me into the kitchen with her, so I was kind of familiar with that whole environment. And then as I was growing up and I entered high school, it was time for me to get a job so it was a normal progression for me to start cooking.
And then it wasn't until after high school, when I went to Europe and did a lot of soul searching, that I decided I wanted to pursue becoming a chef as a career. I went to the Culinary Institute of America, and I've just been cooking ever since.
And I originally got interested in modern gastronomy when I was at culinary school and started researching el Bulli and a couple other chefs from around the world that were really just pushing the envelope and developing new techniques, creating food that was unlike anything else anybody was doing around the world. It was really inspirational for me, so I started to do research and development on my own. I tried to use cooking as a creative outlet and to use science as a foundation for understanding the phenomenon that is cooking.
Would you say that fusing food with science is the future of food?
Marcel: Good question. I think that food will constantly be evolving, so you can't ever really put a tag on. I don't think anybody really knows what the future of food is. At the same time, we do utilize a lot of cutting-edge cooking techniques and equipment to create these dishes. So it is very avant-garde in nature. But you know, can you say, "It is actually the future of food?" I mean, that's kind of a bold statement.
Check out Marcel's Quantum Kitchen on Tuesday, March 22 at 10 p.m. Eastern/Pacific.