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'Top Chef 2' runner-up Marcel Vigneron talks about his experience


By Christopher Rocchio, 02/02/2007 

Although he came up short in his attempt to be crowned the reality competition's winner, Marcel Vigneron describes his experience on the second season of Bravo's Top Chef as "a little bit bizarre, very interesting, and all in all, just a wonderful opportunity."

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"It's already been a huge stepping stool and I'm really looking forward to the upcoming opportunities that come from it," Vigneron said on Thursday's The View broadcast.

The 26-year-old Vigneron finished second to Ilan Hall on Wednesday night's finale of Top Chef 2, and despite Food & Wine magazine's website spoiler on Monday, View co-host Rosie O'Donnell still thought she was getting the culinary competition's winner as a guest on the syndicated talk show.

"I called everyone I knew and go, 'I got the inside scoop, Marcel won and he's going to be on my show tomorrow!'  Then I watched the show and he lost," said O'Donnell, who referred to Top Chef as her "favorite show."

During the Top Chef 2 finale, Vigneron chose Mike Gaines and Sam Talbot as his sous chefs, giving responsibility to two former contestants he had previously butted heads with throughout the season.  O'Donnell questioned his choice of helpers, asking Vigneron if he felt he was "sabotaged" by Gaines and Talbot.

"I think that honestly if somebody gets the blame placed on them it should be me as the chef," said Vigneron.  "I'm not going to go so far as to say I got sabotaged, but I put certain systems in place, and when the people that work under you don't follow those systems, then you end up missing products and having an unmotivated staff.  But those are circumstances that any good chef has to deal with on a regular basis."

O'Donnell also said it was "very difficult" for her to watch the Top Chef 2 episode when contestant Cliff Crooks wrestled Vigneron to the ground and attempted to shave his head.  Crooks was disqualified for the on-air altercation.  "It was very difficult to be a part of it and to live it," said Vigneron.  "Apparently, my hair is kind of a big deal.  It aggravates people, some people like it and some people love it."

O'Donnell said Vigneron was "her favorite during this competition," a sentiment some other Top Chef fans apparently disagree with.   "If I had a restaurant, you would be the chef I would hire because I find you very artistically inspiring," O'Donnell told Vigneron.  "It's as though you look at a plate as a blank canvas.  You're a tremendously gifted guy."

Vigneron was also presented with a set of J.A. Henckels knives during his appearance on The View, a small consolation prize for the state-of-the-art Kenmore kitchen and $100,000 he missed out on by finishing second to Hall.

(Photo credit Bravo)


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