Restaurant Wars takes one cheftestant's crazy rise even further to the top.
Tonight we said goodbye to one of the last bona fide characters on TCAS. Marcel, or Marcy, or, as a clever commenter put it: Marcel Mathers. Double M is a lot of things: foam enthusiast, Wolverine look-alike, part-time rapper. Now he’s also eliminated.
Did any of us not see it coming? What with the promos full of Marcel throwing tantrums over eggs, plus his heated freestyle last week when he claimed, among other things, that he cooks food for the f—ing people. I have to wonder what next week will be like, with only the normal humans plus Angelo left to compete. But Marcy went out last night in top form, yelling and screaming and claiming his sole mistake was picking the wrong team. So before we mourn, let us remember.
At Le Bernardin, which, duh, is only the best seafood restaurant in the country, we learned about the Quickfire challenge: to portion one cod and one fluke into Le Bernardin-style cuts in 10 minutes, a “relatively luxurious amount of time,” according to He Who Speaks Truth to Power and Looks Powerful Doing It, Anthony Bourdain. He called it so because Le Bernardin’s superhuman fish butcher Justo Thomas can do the job in eight minutes.
Marcel told us the first time he ever touched fish he got some horrible red rash all over his hands, but he pushed through and kept touching fish and eventually he just got over it. This is a great and rare example of when Marcel’s crazy was also good. Tiffany D., a seafood chef back home, sliced her fish the wrong way. Fabio’s knife slipped through his fingernail. “I’m not Jamie,” he said. “I’ll take it like a man.”
Those on top were Mike, Dale, Richard, and the antihero of our story, Marcel, who landed themselves in a second Quickfire challenge that required using the leftover fish parts to make a tasty dish. Blais was over the moon, citing his time at McDonald’s as proof of his innate avant-garde flair for fish. Back in the day, he sent out his first round of fish filets without the buns. Do you get the subtext? From McDonald’s to Top Chef: Blais actually cooked for the f—ing people! It’s a quality rags-to-riches tale. But Dale’s family stole pig heads, and his two-dish combo of fluke-fin sashimi in fluke-liver sauce and bacon dashi scored him the win. Bourdain is a liver slut. Prize: immunity.
Now we get to the elimination challenge. Restaurant Wars!
Though Dale lost the Restaurant Wars challenge of his original season, this time around he had poetic justice on his side — a Quickfire win that meant he couldn’t lose, and automatic team captainship with the power to choose his rival captain. Like everyone else, Dale hates Marcel. He realized the only contestant he definitely couldn’t get stuck with as a teammate was his rival captain. May as well pick one who’ll also go down! He crowned Marcel rival captain. Marcel took this as an “honor.” As the captains started forming teams, Blais tried to hide so Marcel couldn’t see him. Marcel captured Mike, which left Mike enraged. At the very end when only Tiffany D. was left, Marcel asked, “You wanna work together?” Her smile was apparently not enough for him. “You don’t seem too excited,” he said.
NEXT: Marcel serves up crazy with a side dish of angryMarcel told us Restaurant Wars is about “assembling a motherf—ing team.” He asked lots of questions of his motherf—ing team, like: “How many times do I have to say that we’re putting down ideas? How many times do I have to tell you that I’m not scratching anything out? How many times aaaaaaargh?” He wanted to call their restaurant Medi, because their food is sort of Mediterranean. This was a terrible idea, and everyone told him so. Angelo said four people should count over one person. Marcel started to do that thing with his hands where he looks like he’s trying to be tough. At some magical revolutionary time we were not privy to, the downtrodden team members imposed their own title. Unfortunately, it was no better: Etch. Because it creates an impression? No, it doesn’t.
At this point I am honestly tired of recounting how terrible Marcel is. In short, he is terrible. He becomes more terrible. He is an adult-size baby who reacts the same way babies do when they need something. Whining, yelling, pooping, and trying to make everyone around them miserable. (He doesn’t actually poop in public.) This is why no one wanted to be on his team, while in the meantime, Dale and “the steal of the draft,” a.k.a. Fabio, swapped high fives. Marcel then managed to fight with literally every member of his team while they cooked. Angelo did an insincere confessional on “our captain Marcel,” only to be called the “peanut gallery” by his captain Marcel and told to shut up. At this insult, Angelo laughed desperately and furiously. What else could he do? Marcel cut Colicchio off, for chrissake. Kid brings bad manners. But great TV!
The anger vibes seemed to seep into the food. It was hard to tell how the diners actually felt during the meal, since we saw only the same five airing their opinions, but the judges were clear. Tiffany’s asparagus salad with egg and chorizo wasn’t seasoned and seemed to be missing chorizo. Angelo’s crudo was more about the dressing than the fish. Marcel’s monkfish was soft as baby food, an apt creation from a chef who’s a baby. His peach duo with powder and the inevitable touch of foam was, according to Bourdain, “a perfect storm of f—ing awfulness.” Team Bodega, meanwhile, hit nearly every dish out of the ballpark, with special honors paid to Dale’s bacon, egg, and cheese on homemade focaccia, Tre’s pork shoulder, and Fabio’s incredibly smooth-looking amaretto dessert.
The diners could probably smell hatred, because they preferred Bodega by a landslide; Baby Marcel, Tiffany, Angelo, Antonia, and Mike duly filed in for judgment. “Why foam? Why now?” Bourdain asked. There wasn’t an answer.
The winners were triumphant. Fabio appeared in a side montage not only in a natty white suit and a shirt emblazoned “Team Fabio,” but also complimenting himself on his own accent. Bourdain called Dale’s egg dish “stoner food at its finest.” Tre’s (pork) shoulder got love, and Carla’s blueberry pie apparently fit right into the perfectly conceived Bodega theme. Winners, all of you! But you especially, Blais, and here’s 10,000 Buitoni dollars to prove it.
Marcel, meanwhile, took a parting shot at his team on his way out. His ONE MISTAKE, he says, was choosing the wrong people to surround himself with. Are. You. On Drugs? That’s what Antonia asked, and I ask it here again. Dear Marcel, who lit up our TV so maniacally these past two weeks, are you? If so, stop doing the ones you’re doing. They’re definitely not working.
So, Top Chef fans, are you relieved to see Marcel go? Slightly disappointed? Both? If you’re already suffering from Marcel withdrawal, be sure to check out his blog over on PopWatch, with all of its delicious rage.