Chef Marcel Vigneron on MARCEL’S QUANTUM KITCHEN

Marcel's Quantum Kitchen

You might not expect Syfy to feature chef Marcel Vigneron, but that’s exactly where you’ll find his new reality show MARCEL’S QUANTUM KITCHEN. The Top Chef Season 2 runner-up is putting his talent for molecular gastronomy to the test with a new catering company, and each episode of Marcel’s Quantum Kitchen will find him creating and executing an extraordinary event or celebration personalized for a demanding client using futuristic ideas and cutting-edge techniques.

Daemon’s TV was there when Marcel talked about his team, what we can expect from Marcel’s Quantum Kitchen, and why the show fits on Syfy.

On the show’s concept

Marcel said the show, which is three years in the making, is much different than other food-based shows. He explained, “It’s not a competition show and it’s not a demo-style show. It’s more about showcasing to the public a new style of cooking and what happens when you combine a little bit of science, some creativity, and a little know-how. I think that the show has the opportunity to open up people’s minds and change their paradigms to what food can be when combined with those other ingredients.”

When asked to explain what he means when he talks about molecular gastronomy, Marcel said, “Molecular gastronomy is a term often utilized when referring to chefs collaborating with scientists or chefs utilizing science to create new techniques. It’s cutting edge cooking. .. I feel like a lot of people aren’t really aware of this particular style of cooking and I’m hoping the show has the opportunity to expose it to people.”

On being on Syfy

One of the biggest questions about Marcel’s Quantum Kitchen is why it’s on Syfy instead of, say, Food Network. Marcel explained, “I know it feels like an abstract fit, but once you’ve seen the show, I feel like it’s totally going to make sense. One of the ways we bridged that gap between Syfy and doing a cooking show with me on it is focusing on a lot of the same things. Syfy is all about imagining greater, which is what my team and I are all about, so we have the same basic philosophy. We focus in on a lot of the scientific aspects of cooking, as well, so you get a lot of science and it’s educational, but at the same time it’s all about creativity and teamwork, so that’s how we bring both worlds together.”

On his team

Marcel is proud of the people he selected to work with him. He said, “I have an amazing team and they all have unique talents. I’ve known Devon [Espinoza] a long time. We went to culinary school together and he’s an amazing mixologist. He has some chops inside the kitchen as well, so he’s a great person to have on my team because of that dichotomy.”

The next member of the team is Jarrid Masse. Marcel said, “I met him when he was performing at the Viper Room with his band. Three days later, he showed up for work [at Bazaar] as one of my food runners. A week after that he came up to me and said, ‘I want to be cooking.'” That resonated with Marcel since he had once told a chef the same thing. “I was more than happy to take him under him under my wing as somewhat of a protégé and my own personal project, so I’ve been cooking with him ever since and helping him to develop his technique. He’s a great guy to have around because not only does he cook, but he has all these other outlets that are pretty amazing and that I try to utilize. Whether we’re filming edible centerpieces for the table or breathing fire- he’s a great member of the team.”

The final team member has talents outside the kitchen. “Robyn [Wilson] probably has the least amount of cooking experience, but she is nevertheless a very important part of the team and she contributes a lot. She has more experience dealing with the front of the house and the business aspect of catering, which is definitely something I wanted to have on my team, especially since it’s a relatively new company. ”

This is apparently a tight-knit group, which Marcel said has a downside. “It’s a really great group of people and we have an interesting thing going. Because the members of my team are all kind of close friends of mine, it puts me in a precarious situation because it’s difficult to be friends with someone and also be their boss. At the same time, because we are friends, we’re able to overcome any trials and tribulations we face along the way.”

On the clients

Each episode of Marcel’s Quantum Kitchen will focus on one client or event and Marcel said he makes sure to get to know them so he can give them a truly personalized experience. “For every episode and event that we cater, I like to get together with my client and spend a couple days with them doing what they do. That way I can get inside their head and find out what they’re all about, so that when I go back and develop the menu and go through a brainstorming session with my team, we can create these dishes that are specifically designed for the particular client or event. ”

Marcel said he enjoys the time he spends with clients and viewers will be able to see why. “We cater a party for Steve Walden, this legendary surfer, so I go out surfing with him to develop inspiration for his party. Each episode there will be these inspirational sessions where go out into the world doing whatever our clients do, so we step out of the kitchen a bit and you will get the opportunity to see what we do outside the kitchen.”

When asked if he’s had many extreme requests from the clients, Marcel replied that it was just the opposite. “My clients are hiring me specifically because they want me to deliver an experience and more often than not they give me free reign for the menu because they want me to create elaborate dishes. I don’t really get a lot of restrictions. It’s usually more like the sky is the limit, like ‘Marcel, here’s our story. Go and create.'”

On challenges

According to Marcel, there are many challenges inherent to his business. “When you’re working with a lot of these new cooking techniques, it is a matter of trial and error, often times. A lot of these techniques I’ve never even done before, so sometimes the science comes into play where we need to figure out why something isn’t working the way that we had planned and what the effects are. There can also be physical limitations or there can be limitations with our environment where we’re catering a party and we don’t have the necessary equipment or there isn’t a kitchen, so we’re constantly having to overcome these different challenges, whether it’s the science of food or personality-based or our environment.”

Marcel has found that science helps him meet those challenges. “I try to utilize science and a lot of these avant-garde techniques to keep me grounded. On the one hand you have the whole creative thing going on and then the science is actually concrete, so it adds stability to the situation.”

Another challenge Marcel has taken on is branching out from the kitchen. He said delicious food will always be his priority, but he’s becoming more involved in other aspects of the business, too. “When you look at the dining experience as a whole, it’s not just about the food. It’s about the service; the ambience; the food; the settings- all these other factors, so I want to be sure we deliver the most amazing experience to our guests. To do that, I’ve started taking on a bit more as a chef and working with these event planners to make sure we’re all on the same page and that the front of the house and the back of the house come together to create one harmonious experience.”

On Marcel of Marcel’s Quantum Kitchen vs. Marcel of Top Chef

When asked if any of his clients seemed concerned about what kind of meal they might receive given Marcel’s propensity for avant-garde techniques, Marcel said none had. “I’m pretty decent at what I do and I make sure I deliver an amazing experience to my guests. It’s not like someone is going to ask to have a party catered by me and not have anything to eat because I utilize new cooking techniques. Yes, I utilize new cooking techniques and different ingredients and new types of equipment. A lot of what we do is new and creative, but that’s just because we’re thinking out of the box.”

Marcel said he’s grown as a chef and a person since his time as one of the most polarizing Top Chef contestants. “My actual style of cooking has been refined. As a chef, in the beginning I was curious about all these cooking techniques and I might have been utilizing them just to utilize them. Now, as a chef, I show restraint and everything has to make sense and taste delicious. I’ll only use certain techniques when they’re appropriate.”

According to Marcel, viewers should get a better impression of him than they did while watching Top Chef. “Top Chef is a competition-based show that tends to focus in on the most polarizing moments and I think one of the cool things about Marcel’s Quantum Kitchen is that it’s a show unlike any other show on television right now. I think you will get the opportunity to see a different side of me–a little more well-rounded, let’s say.”

The other big difference between Marcel’s time on Top Chef and his new show is the food. He explained that while on Top Chef he had always been limited by the parameters of each challenge, “with Marcel’s Quantum Kitchen, the sky’s the limit. I have an amazing team behind me helping me create this dishes. I have inspiration from working with clients and coming up with delicious menu items. I’m given the time and resources I need to come up with delicious dishes. The food you’ll see me create on Marcel’s Quantum Kitchen is completely different than what you saw me do on Top Chef.”

Marcel’s Quantum Kitchen premieres on Syfy Tuesday, March 22 at 10pm eastern/9pm central.

You can read all our Marcel’s Quantum Kitchen coverage here and be sure to enter our Marcel’s Quantum Kitchen Cooking Kit Contest.

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