You may know Marcel Vigneron from his explosive appearances on Bravo’s Top Chef, but now that he’s starting his own catering company and the game will be played by Marcel’s rules.
His company’s very first assignment is to create a cocktail party experience supporting the Wildlife Waystation, an organization devoted to the health and well being of exotic animals. Marcel and his colleague, Jarrid, tour the Waystation, and later, Marcel meets with his client, Carlton, to discuss the event. She makes it clear that the party absolutely must be a success. Marcel then speaks with the event planner, Chester, to see when the two of them can check out the venue together, but Chester states empirically that he just doesn’t have time.
Marcel assembles his team in his state-of-the-art test kitchen for a brainstorming session, and the ideas are wild and free. Marcel has assembled a crack team: the aforementioned Jarrid, a creative mastermind; Devon, bartender extraordinaire; and Robyn, a whiz with the organizational and hospitality sides of the business. The culinary artists head in a “safari” direction: an edible map (fruit leather) will guide the guests through the different rooms, each inspired by an animal. The parrots come first, with a bird’s nest of mozzarella and fried, shredded potato, followed by the pythons, represented by tenderloin and short rib “trees” with pork skin fried to look like molted snake skin, and then the coup de grace: caramelized rice treats frozen in nitrogen that will make the guests’ breath appear as though they are exhaling in a Himalayan atmosphere.
Carlton comes by the following day to check out what Marcel has in store, but his dishes have been unsuccessful and all he has to show her is the map – which she loves – and the bird’s nest, a melty mess of tomato foam – which she hates. Marcel is now way behind schedule, and not sure if he can pull off this ambitious menu by tomorrow.
But the day comes and the team arrives on site. Marcel is peeved that he didn’t get to do a walk-through with Chester. He begs that Chester acquire a snow machine for the Himalaya room, but Chester refuses. Devon has created a dragon fruit caipirinha to amuse the guests while the team hurriedly hangs the birds’ nests in the trees. Marcel has firmed up the foam to look more like a cooked egg, and is hugely relieved when he learns that Carlton loves his revision. Next is the snake room, and Marcel and his company arrange greens and tiny mushrooms on their meat “log,” then carefully strew the pork snake skins around it. Not only does it look amazing, but it’s also a treat for the taste buds.
With everyone celebratory, Marcel asks them all to share the moment of consuming the tiger’s breath dessert. Marcel is thrilled that Chester came through at the last minute and scored the snow machine. Everyone grabs a spoon and toasts the success of the party, and toasts the magic – and science – of Marcel’s food.
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