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NBC's 'Chopping Block' debuts Wednesday; Daily Dish talks to one local contestant

March 9, 2009 |  3:03 pm

Kelsey

West Hollywood residents, meet your friendly neighborhood reality show star Kelsey Henderson.

The 22-year-old and her sister Vanessa are set to compete against seven other teams this spring on NBC's new cooking series "The Chopping Block," where contestants can win a cool $250,000 (Look for television critic Robert Lloyd's review, running Wednesday in The Times' Calendar section) and a shot at their very own restaurant. That is, if they can please legendary chef Marco Pierre White.

I met the Carmel-born Henderson earlier this month completely by accident at her new day job, as chef at up-and-coming  WeHo hotel Le Petit. Formerly the Valadon, the cozy hotel has undergone a radical transformation (think a slightly less glamorous cross between the Chateau Marmont and the nearby Le Montrose), and Henderson is apparently a small part of Le Petit's ascension in the area. (Do not read anything into the job, or assume anything about her performance on "The Chopping Block" -- contestants are sworn to secrecy and must go about their "normal" lives until all is revealed on-air.)

"I like to cook healthy twists on classics," she said last week on the rooftop of the hotel, during an informal gathering toasting Le Petit's recently approved liquor license. "Sometimes, I take my favorite dishes and try to make them healthy... it's fun to play around with the ingredients and try new things." The former lead macrobiotic chef for Madonna, and one-time personal cook for film and music video director Mark Romanek and his wife, Bridget, said that she is "not a vegan or vegetarian," but that she enjoys "eating and cooking that kind of food."   

"I trained with a world-renowned macrobiotic chef for about a year," she says. "Since then, all of my food has been inspired from macrobiotics ... but I like to eat a hearty steak dinner every now and then."

So what's on her menu at Le Petit for hotel guests?  A filet mignon "tower," a veggie burger wrap or even asparagus brie frittata (served with sliced pear and topped with a lightly dressed mixed green salad). Although the hotel does not officially have a restaurant on-site, savvy locals have already discovered the rooftop deck's tables set up outside near the pool for a leisurely lunch.

-- Charlie Amter

Photo of Kelsey Henderson at Le Petit by Charlie Amter/Los Angeles Times

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