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Review: 'The Chopping Block'

March 10, 2009 |  5:17 pm

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I don't know whether it's still the American dream to own a restaurant -- it may now be just to hang on to that horrible job you had hoped to quit soon -- but there are at least 16 people who still dream it, and they are contestants on “The Chopping Block.” Premiering tonight on NBC, this latest in a lengthening line of food-themed reality shows shares a title (and creators) with an Australian food-themed reality show, has much in common with another Australian food-themed reality show ("My Restaurant Rules") and the BBC food-themed reality show "The Restaurant," and boasts the same host as the U.K. version of the food-themed reality show "Hell's Kitchen," Marco Pierre White.

White, who retired from cooking a decade ago but remains an influential restaurateur, is known among other things as the Man Who Made Gordon Ramsay Cry when Ramsay was working under him in London a couple of decades back. (Ramsay, who preceded White as a host of the British "Hell's Kitchen" and continues to host the American version, quit White -- ironically, you'd have to say -- because of "the rages and the bullying and violence.") In the hierarchy of Michelin-starred abusive English chefs turned TV stars, this feat would seem to give White the edge, but he tends to play himself as the nicer, better-intentioned of the two.

As to the show's 16 aspiring Marco Pierre Whites, they come in the form of eight couples -- brothers, sisters, cousins, friends, exes, mother and daughter, significant others -- each comprising a cook and a server. The group is divided into two teams, each of which is given a New York City storefront to turn into a restaurant faster than you can say, "Turn this New York City storefront into a restaurant."

Read the full story here.

-- Robert Lloyd

Photo: From left, Mikey, Chad, Lisa, Anapol, Vanessa, Kelsey, Panya. Credit: Ali Goldstein / NBC

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