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The Chopping Block: Series Premiere

by Bob Sassone, posted Mar 12th 2009 2:15AM
The Chopping Block(S01E01) "He invented food. Almost." - Kelsey

Marco Pierre White must be a little ticked off. Here he is one of the most renowned chefs alive today, and he's pretty much eclipsed by one of his most famous proteges, Gordon Ramsay. Supposedly they're even on the outs. Sure, White is well-known overseas and very well-known to cooks and aspiring chefs, but I would bet 9 out of 10 people in the U.S. wouldn't know who he is. Maybe The Chopping Block will change that, maybe not.

I'm leaning towards maybe not, since this is yet another reality/food competition show and offers little that's new or different.

This show is filled with everything you see on Hell's Kitchen (two color-coded teams, arguing between team members, food overcooked, food undercooked, customers unhappy, etc, etc) with a dash of stuff from other reality shows, including Last Restaurant Standing. One big difference between CB and HK (if I may abbreviate them this way) is that the way CB is filmed, you often can't tell what the hell is going on. It's shot on film, with too many closeups and quick cuts. Even though one team is black and one red (with couples on each team), it's hard to keep track of who's on which team, though the personalities are big enough to know who is who when they talk to them separately.

White is a cross between Gordon Ramsay, a James Bond villain, and a host from Masterpiece Theatre. Supposedly he's tougher than Ramsay, but that's not on display here (not in this first episode anyway). He doesn't swear, scream, or throw things. There's no narrator, so White sits in a leather chair and calmly tells you what's going on and what it means, waving his finger like a serious professor or antiques dealer.

Good to see some real food critics involved. Corby Kummer from The Atlantic was in this first episode, and Jeffrey Steingarten (who foodie fans will know from Iron Chef America) is on next week. That's a nice touch I hope continues.

Is this must-see? Not really, not unless you really love food competitions. And even then this may be one too many shows of this type to bother catching.

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Why have they canceled it?

April 01 2009 at 12:33 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

MPW took over from GR on the UK version of HK

(if you can abbreviate then so can I!) :)

March 13 2009 at 2:35 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Bob Sassone

Lorenzo: Yeah, that's what I meant. It has that film "look and feel," where shows like Hell's Kitchen have that video look and feel.

March 12 2009 at 3:13 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

The show is not shot on film. It shot digital and has a "cinematic" feel. But I assure you it is not shot on film.

March 12 2009 at 3:11 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I think there's a quiet intensity to Marco Pierre White that makes the show interesting. Just because a guy doesn't swear or throw objects at people doesn't me he's less intense. I mean, in HK, Ramsay does that for show, but in his BBC series, he's about as quiet composed as White.

White is physically and mentally intimidating. He just walks into the place, stands in one spot, and watches with sharp eyes. I think he has it in his head who he thinks will win already. I also like that when he spoke during the competition, he was actually trying to help the teams improve. There are so many shows that revel in watching people get yelled at and this is one of the few where I actually dread someone getting kicked off.

I'll definitely be watching this show.

March 12 2009 at 10:34 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Rob Walley

Good show overall. It borrows just the right things from other restaurant shows. I have a feeling that White will explode sooner than later and we will see the wrath that made Ramsay cry. I usually prefer filmed reality shows but this one could benefit from switching to tape. The contestants seem to be good personalities that can make the show interesting as the weeks progress. The fact that there is an elimination each week and that there are only two restaurants operating makes this a faster viewing than Last Restaurant Standing. I can't decide whether that will be a good thing in the long run.

Trivia note: Just like Ramsay trained under White, White trained under Raymond Blanc, host of Last Restaurant Standing!

March 12 2009 at 9:52 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Marco constantly wagging that finger was driving me nuts - it was like a freakin' metronome!

March 12 2009 at 8:21 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Lynnie's comment

I completely agree, Lynnie. I wanted to put his finger on the Chopping Block! LOL

March 12 2009 at 9:50 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Just a note: Gordon Ramsey worked for White in London, and Ramsey cried.......all White said about that incident was"....that was HIS decision to cry, not mine....". LOL

March 12 2009 at 6:09 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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