Remember that online exclusive that Wired ran a few weeks ago, featuring molecular gastronomy dishes from the secret labs of Top Chef finalist Marcel Vigneron? Turns out one of the recipes is a blatant ripoff of a creation by Wylie Dufresne, Marcel’s hero. As Grub Street reports, the erstwhile cheftestant’s Cyber Egg—a yolk of carrot-cardamom purée ringed by a white of hardened coconut milk, garnished with carrot and cauilflower foams—is not Marcel’s invention at all, but actually one of Dufresne’s best-known dishes (except for the foams, which were a Marcel touch).
Members of the staff at Dufresne’s restaurant, wd-50, tell Grub Street that Marcel has eaten the dish there “at least twice,” and they’re none too happy about the offense:
‘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?’
Perhaps Marcel thought that by adding the foams, he was changing the dish enough to render it an homage rather than a cheap knockoff—which is really what it looks like in Grub Street’s side-by-side photos. And of course his constant use of foam is another copycat move. Is the whole thing just a losing contestant’s bid to keep the reality-show drama alive in the postseason? Would Marcel actually pick a fight with his idol in the national media? For the moment at least, Dufresne is refusing to join the cast: He has no comment.