Tonight on BRAVO Top Chef DUELS airs with a premiere episode of season 1 called, “Richard Blais Vs. Marcel Vigneron.” On tonight’s episode, two of the most notorious “mad scientists” in Top Chef history face-off once again, Top Chef All Stars winner Richard Blais and competitor celebrity chef Marcel Vigneron.
Each episode of Top Chef DUELS will pit two Top Chef and Top Chef Masters alumni in a head-to-head cooking battle for three rounds of extreme culinary challenges. The winner of each episode will compete against one another in the season finale, a battle royal.
On tonight’s show two of the most notorious “mad scientists” in Top Chef history face-off once again, Top Chef All Stars winner Richard Blais and competitor celebrity chef Marcel Vigneron. First, Marcel challenges Richard to make a dessert featuring both a hot and cold component while Richard chooses to challenge Marcel to make one of his specialties, a burger. And for their Duel that will decide who moves on to the finale, Richard and Marcel must concoct a three-course meal specifically designed to entice each of the judges’ senses. Although Richard won the title when they competed against one another on Top Chef All Stars, never underestimate the power of revenge!
Tonight’s episode is going to be filled with competitive culinary that you won’t want to miss, so be sure to tune in for our live coverage of the show tonight at 10 PM EST! While you wait for our recap hit the comments and let us know how excited you are about the show!
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Tonight on #TopChefDuels is season 2 runner up Marcel Vigneron versus prior winner Richard Blais. Gail Simmons and Wolfgang Puck are there with Curtis Stone. Marcel wants to beat Richard since he beat him before. Curtis tells them they each created a challenge worth $10,000 and the final challenge is the duel for the $100k grand prize.
They draw knives. Marcel has the red knife so he chooses to start with his challenge. He says it’s called fire and ice. There has to be a super hot component and a super cold – temperature wise, not spice wise. Richard says it sounds like something a kid would come up with. Marcel says it’s not savory, but a sweet challenge. He hopes the dessert will be a curve ball for Richard.
They get started. Marcel is making ice cream and is making coconut with a hot cake. He thinks he has an advantage. Richard doesn’t want to reveal his idea but thinks Marcel’s challenge twist was clever. Richard is making hot and cold pineapple. They are half done and scrambling. They hassle each other good naturedly while they work. Marcel is confident he’ll win his own challenge.
Curtis calls 30 seconds. Richard worries his dish has too many components. It’s hands off and the judges come in with Curtis. Marcel says he made coconut ice cream with cashew cake and charred pineapple. Gail tastes and so does Wolfgang. Curtis too. Gail loves the ice cream. Wolfgang says the ice cream is delicious. He says the cake is distracting and something he wouldn’t cook and Gail agrees.
Richard made hot pineapples and cold coconut ice cream. They taste the chile that he included. They all taste. Curtis says there are a lot of elements so he got a little lost. Wolfgang likes the presentation but also thought it was crowded. Gail says there was no temperature heat, but spice heat from the chile. Wolfgang picks Richard based on interesting flavors.
Curtis votes for Marcel based on the coconut ice cream. Gail has the deciding vote and gives it to Richard. Marcel isn’t happy. Richard is thrilled with is $10k. Marcel is bummed that he designed the challenge and lost. Curtis congratulates Richard who says his challenge is to make a dish he liked as a kid and then cooks on all his menus.
Richard shows him a classic hamburger and says it must be recognizable as a burger plus a tasty side dish. Gail reminds Marcel that Richard has a burger restaurant. They go to work on their burgers. Richard says the best way to cook a burger is to make it a little bit larger than the bun then pike holes to keep it from puffing. He’s cooking his in a pizza oven while Marcel is using a cast iron skillet.
Richard sees Marcel putting on a fried egg and thinks it’s so last year. They finish their dishes and the judges come in. Richard made a burger with beer and vodka battered onion rings. He made some spicy ketchup. Curtis says it’s interesting and Gail likes the spice but says the bacon should be crispier. Wolfgang says the onion rings are nice and crispy but says the burger is overdone.
Marcel calls his the dirty girl. He made brown butter, egg yolk and blue cheese. Gail tastes and so do the others. Wolfgang says he needs a shower and likes the avocado on it. He says the eggs add to it. Gail likes the layers and the cook and says it was decadent. Curtis says it was too big for his mouth. He also made homemade chips.
Gail votes for Marcel’s because she wanted to eat more. Wolfgang says both were interesting and also like the rings. He votes for Marcel as well. Marcel gets the $10k – they each won the other’s challenge. Richard is in shock that Marcel won. He says that’s the problem with foreigners judging an American burger contest and says he wants a recount. Marcel is excited and ready for the duel.
Curtis tells them they’re going to push their creativity to a new level. Richard says he has a crown to defend and has to win. Curtis says you usually dine with all your sense but today it will differ. They each have to do a three course meal. The first course is visual and must look like one thing but taste like another. Course two will have the judges blind folded. The third must have various textures to appeal to touch. Paul Liebrandt, Chef Josiah Citrin and Homaru Cantu will be there as well.
Marcel has Stuart and Grady to help him. Richard has Brad and Anthony. They are each from their restaurants and are excited to have their sous chefs there. They have two hours before service. The chefs fill in their team on the challenge. They are off and running. Marcel says he’s notorious for coming in second and would like to change that.
Marcel is doing hearts of palm as faux bone marrow for the first. Richard is doing cherries in all his dishes. He has chicken liver mousse to look like a cherry. He says he’s going for technique. Marcel calls his team up to work beside him. Richard says he’s being a dick and doesn’t like to hear him talking down to his people. Marcel says he’s not talking down to them, he’s just focused.
Marcel says deep down he’s a sweetheart puppy. The judges come to poke around. Wolfgang asks Curtis if Marcel is nervous. He says he’s busy and nervous. He says he thinks he’s in Richard’s head a little based on the last challenge. They ask Richard which dish he’s most nervous about and he says the first course. Curtis asks what it means to defend his title and he says he’s trying to be a dynasty not a one-time winner.
Curtis says it’s a good match up. Wolfgang says Richard looks under control but Marcel is all over the place. He says he hopes he’ll bring the excitement to his dishes. Richard is nervous and they are down to 10 minutes and he still hasn’t seen the fake cherry. The judges are all sitting down ready to sample the dishes. Curtis explains the challenge to the guests.
to serve their first course and they tell them to let them guess what it is. Gail says it looks like bone marrow but is likely heart of palm. The judges like it and he explains the dish and the scallop mousse. They like them with the oyster. Richard is next. They sniff the dish and Wolfgang says you can smell the chicken liver.
Richard explains the cherries and black walnut. One says it’s genius and says it tastes like a cherry with the farce. They leave and go back to course two. Richard is nervous and says Marcel is cooking much better. Gail thinks it’s Marcel another votes for Richard so it’s neck and neck. Richard is doing pasta but they are having issues with the pasta extruder.
Richard tells them to unclog it. Richard is calling the next – forest floor. He’s doing pasta and duck. He says a mentor told him never to let a machine stop you from doing your job. Curtis tells the judges they need to put on their blindfolds so they can sniff course two. Gail says she’s nervous. Marcel has prawns and basil. He’s doing a broth to emulate a Thailand market.
Marcel is first up and tells them he wants them to have two aromatic experiences. He tells them to lift the lid and sniff. They do and say it smells like upscale seafood. Then he adds a vapor to the table. It’s menthol but the judges aren’t so sure about that smell. He says there is no mint in the dish and it’s just there as a vapor.
They like the stew – the smell and the flavor and says it’s nicely balanced. Gail says the menthol is fascinating but thinks it smells like medication and cigarettes by association. Richard’s dish is next. He’s making ragout. He says it needs to be easy to eat and get all the flavors on the fork. He serves his dish. He asks the servers to pull the lids and there’s smoke of cherry wood. Then he makes a steamy noise with a pressure cooker released aroma.
They don’t taste the porcini and he pulls a face. Wolfgang says the duck pieces should have been larger but noodles were well cooked. Richard feels like he failed. He tells the sous chefs he’s not sure. They pull off their blindfolds and say it’s not pretty. One votes for Richard, one for Marcel the another for Marcel. Curtis says it’s down to the dessert.
Marcel is making a dessert with about 25 different components – soft, silky, crunchy, etc. Richard is doing black forest yodel – chocolate cake with cherries, pop rocks and more. They serve the desserts. Marcel serves dragon fruit, tapioca, frozen grapes and a ton of textures and fruits. They like the look and another says it’s refreshing. Richard serves up kirsch sorbet and a bunch of other stuff. Wolfgang says it’s a challenge to his teeth with the pop rocks.
Marcel congratulates his guys while Richard tells his that he’s not sure. One judge likes Richard’s and so does Wolfgang who says you can’t go wrong with chocolate. Richard and Marcel hug it out in the kitchen and try each other’s food. Richard says Marcel is a force to be reckoned with. The judges talk and one says Marcel was the winner for course one or two but Richard in course three.
Another votes Richard as well. Wolfgang says Marcel came out ahead. Gail says she liked Marcel’s better. Curtis says it’s been a close day and he’s not sure. Richard and Marcel talk about their dishes and what they thought about the challenge. The judges come in. Gail compliments them both as does Wolfgang. Curtis says it’s a difficult decision. He tells them the winner of the duel is Richard.
Marcel congratulates him. Richard is in shock and didn’t think he was going to win. He says Marcel’s food was great and tells Marcel he’s impressive. Marcel says losing doesn’t get any easier. Gail tells them the dessert was really the deciding factor. Richard says he’s ready for the finale. That’s it!