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Chopping Block Premiere [Spoiler Alert]

Gotta say, I like this SO much more than HK. White's controlled intensity is thrilling.
I like the look of it, too, HD, and the graphics, with the host's asides.

HK feels like LA, this feels like NYC.

At the risk of sounding like a reality junkie, this brings all that I like about Tabitha to it- it's a BUSINESS. Opening a resturant in New York is one of the hardest business ventures possible. This brings that out in a way that I find enjoyable and unpandering.

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  1. I really liked it. There are just a few couples that seem out of their league but over-all I can see some of them owning a neighborhood place but nothing earth shattering.

    I really, really like MPW. We need more of him and less of the others.

    Spoiler Alert:

    I can't believe Khoa just gave up! WTF! Didn't he know he was going to be on a reality show?

    1. To my surprise, I liked White. He was tough, but straight and he coached and mentored the contestants.

      Are all food critics gratuitously snide and nasty? I hated Corby Kummer, wouldn't want to be his friend, dine with him or interact with him in any way. If there's not a little humanity or compassion, please spare me your arrogance.

      The contestants, for the most part, were more impressive than I expected. They pretty much all had chops. Maybe not Top Chefs, but we have yet to see.

      1. julietg, next time please include a spoiler alert in the title of the thread so we don't ruin the show for anyone who hasn't watched yet. i sent a "report" to the mods asking them to do it for this one.

        ok, on to the show...

        after reading Devil in the Kitchen (which i loved, by the way), i didn't expect MPW to be quite so subdued, but it was nice!

        i'm with KTinNYC, i have no idea why someone who can't handle pressure, confrontation, or foul language would sign on for a reality show OR want to be in the restaurant biz! Khoa really gave the brothers a gift by bowing out...and after Than told Angie that she should learn how to cook before she goes back in to the kitchen, i really wanted to see him go. it was petty, childish, and completely unnecessary.

        Corby Kummer was a weasel. but something tells me that he'll seem to have almost been warm & fuzzy after next week's critique from Jeffrey Steingarten! gotta say, i'm looking forward to seeing how his snark plays outside of ICA's kitchen stadium...

        8 Replies
        1. re: goodhealthgourmet

          Totally looking forward to Steingarten.

          But I do wonder how eliminating a couple at a time will work. It's a high percentage of the small teams.

          1. re: goodhealthgourmet

            I'm still not sure about this show. I disliked MPW's Yoda-like commentary on each couple (perhaps it was the lack of socks on his leg crossed over his knee that irked me <g>). I also don't feel like I have a clue as to the contestants other than knowing one couple is from Millbury, MA - I think I can figure out which by the accent. :-)

            Khoa was an idiot for just bowing out. What a waste of time - too bad someone else who wanted it more couldn't have been chosen. The brothers really needed to go - the FOH idiot brother was completely off-base, and MPW knew it, as did everyone else, it seemed. Wonder how that will play out in future episodes - doesn't look like the FOH brother plays well with others.

            And major ick on Corby Kummer. I've disliked his reviews in Boston Magazine for years, and he just solidified why with this show. Steingarten ought to be interesting next week. I'm not sure if I'll stick with the show; but I will try one more episode, at least.

            1. re: LindaWhit

              I didn't like the commentary either! I thought it felt kind of like Trump and was just overall unnecessary. I also wish they would have done a bit more background on the contestants. Also, ITA on the reviewer, he seemed to be hamming it up quite a bit for the camera.

              1. re: LindaWhit

                It will be interesting to see Steingarten in this role. I thought last night the critic was supposed to be unknown to the contestants. Corby Kummer was not (until last night) very recognizable, but Steingarten certainly has had lots of TV exposure. Cannot imagine all the chefs wouldn't know who he was.

                1. re: ChefJune

                  Well, I'm not going to go as far out on the limb as you, June, and call these people "chefs". :-) But if they're as into food as many of us are - yes, they should know who Steingarten is.

              2. re: goodhealthgourmet

                I posted my comments in the other thread, but suffice to say, I didn't really like it. I am, however, SUPER excited to hear Jeffrey Steingarten is the guest critic next week! I didn't catch that last night. I like him on Iron Chef, but I absolutely LOVED his books. Love, love, love. At the very least, I'll be keeping up with this show for one more week.

                1. re: charmedgirl

                  I loved his books, too, but fwiw, he is every bit as egotistical as Kummer. imho, more so.

                  1. re: ChefJune

                    Eh, I don't think he's as egotistical as he would have us believe. And even if he is, I find him entertaining and informative, so I don't mind. :-)

              3. Was anyone else turned off by the fact the black team's entire restaurant was painted black? The exterior, interior, kitchen. Who wants to eat in an all black restaurant? I actually think it puts them in a disadvantage.

                2 Replies
                1. re: KTinNYC

                  That is a very interesting point. I hadn't thought of that.

                  And ist red used in fast food places so people will eat quickly and leave. This could mean better turn over for the Red Team.

                  1. re: Withnail42

                    I thought red was suppose to stimulate the appetite?

                2. I have to watch this show a little more.... the editing style seems similar to HK. I'm on the fence about MPW, I don't think he comes over very well on the show. I'd like it more if he was in there mentoring. Is he watching the kitchens via monitors?

                  In regards to Khoa, WTF! He can't put up with cussing, yelling, bad service, a chaotic kitchen! He must have been sheltered working in the family restaurant. It's a big world out there, full of good and trying adventures, and he's running home with his tail between his legs.

                  11 Replies
                  1. re: dave_c

                    I do get it that the restaurant industry is tough and the back of the house not exactly gentle and that reality shows aren't always pretty and sure, Khoa should have known that. At the same time, I kind of liked his integrity. He got that the show was not where he belonged and he took a tough stand for himself. It would have been worse if he had hung around trying to make it ok with him. I did wonder how his sister felt about that and if they conferred before he made his statement.

                    1. re: chicgail

                      IIRC, Khoa's ?cousin just sat there and nodded. Never asked if it was what she wanted to do. Or was she there because he needed someone to partner with and didn't plan to be there after his win? Did they show her front of house at all?

                      MPW looked more interesting on the blip of him at the UK Hell's Kitchen, but his hair and restaurant kitchens should stay far, far apart.

                      1. re: shallots

                        I'm sure Khoa and his cousin discussed their bowing out earlier off camera or it just wasn't included in the show.

                      2. re: chicgail

                        I thought MPW was excellent but the the contestants don't seem very experienced. I'd like to see more impressive displays of cooking skills.
                        I thought it interesting when MPW said of one of the dishes (jambalaya I think) that he would have been happy to to have it at someone's house but would be disappointed to be served it in a restaurant.

                        1. re: tofuburrito

                          We actually didn't see much cooking at all. Just an occasional finished dish. It was one of the missings in the show, along with more background on who the contestants were.

                          1. re: chicgail

                            I read a preview of the show and the critic had seen the first 2 episodes. He mentioned that MPW will be mentoring and doing a demo for the cheftestants next week.

                        2. re: chicgail

                          Please explain what integrity? You'd have to be a complete fool to think that there wouldn't be some very tough stuff going on in a competative reality situation like that. If you aren't prepared to put up with that, then at least have the integrity to not apply for the show & give someone else a chance to compete. What a shame.

                          1. re: PattiCakes

                            I think what upset him was not the toughness, but the backstabbing. He was clearly uncomfortable having to name someone to be eliminated, and as he said, for a restaurant to be successful, the team has to work together, and this particular format was extremely divisive. I think it took integrity to say that's it's not worth winning if you have to behave like that (not that everyone should or does feel that way, but that *he* clearly did).

                            Too bad, though, because I wanted to slap both those brothers, especially "I taking care of my customers while their food is getting cold in the kitchen how dare you" Zan, although Than lost me at the end with the "learn to cook" crack -- apparently it escaped his notice that the only dish the critic was shown praising at their restaurant was Angie's crab cake.

                            1. re: Ruth Lafler

                              That was my feeling about him, too. He didn't like the backstabbing, the yelling, the undermining. It sounds like he had this idealized image that everyone would work together to the best of their abilities and the best person would win. I agree that it took integrity for him to realize he wasn't going to play that game. At the same time, I'm wondering if he has ever seen a reality show before.

                              1. re: chowser

                                If he spends all his time working in restaurants, he probably doesn't watch much of any kind of TV in the evenings.

                              2. re: Ruth Lafler

                                I think Than also served up the bloody chicken.

                        3. Overall, I wasn't very impressed with the premier--maybe I had too high of hopes for the show.

                          First, I thought the episode was too rushed. I would have much rather had the first episode be much more introductory, both to get to know the contestants and format of the show. I think the set up of only having 24 hours to open was also much too rushed. I think it would have been more enjoyable to see them discussing the design, choosing clothing for the servers/FOH, more discussion/time spent on developing the menu and bar, etc. I realize the short time span was used for drama purposes, but I think it might have eased viewers in a bit better while getting a chance for us to learn about the contestants. I also wish they were given a budget and then had to decide how to spend it (decor vs product, etc).

                          I really disliked the commentary by the MPW, it was boring and seemed unnecessary.

                          The restaurant reviewer seemed to really ham it up for the camera.

                          In general, I really didn't care for the production and editing. It had a very strong feeling of HK and KN. Both are entertaining shows, but I put absolutely no credibility in either. I also was getting vague flashbacks to the editing style of Rocco's The Restaurant (maybe because they both were on NBC?)

                          I think I just had too high of hopes for a program about food on one of the big networks.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: pollymerase

                            Polly - no - I think your critique is spot on.
                            I totally agree with all of your points - and I had no expectations for it

                          2. The recipes are up. Both of them.
                            The two recipes are from the same team, one's the winning scallops with green beans, but with maximum pretension.
                            And the Jambalaya recipe...which includes rice and they say to serve over rice.


                            5 Replies
                            1. re: shallots

                              But the jambalaya recipe doesn't say anywhere when to add the rice to the mixture. It just says "cook rice" and "serve over rice."

                              1. re: LindaWhit

                                Without the rice cooking in it, it's not jambalaya.
                                I'm glad you caught that. I assumed ......I've got to stop making assumptions on these darned shows.

                                Rant probably needing to be somewhere else: I'm so tired of cooking sages being know it all about New Orleans' staple dishes and getting them wrong or so bastardized as to be deserving of another name.

                                1. re: shallots

                                  "Without the rice cooking in it, it's not jambalaya. "

                                  True. As for those assumptions - I think many of us *expect* them to be screwed up recipes when we see them posted on the shows' websites. It wasn't until recently that the recipes posted for Top Chef shows were written more clearly. Earlier seasons sometimes had the directions not including what to do with X, Y or Z or have a missing ingredient in the list but then discuss it in the directions. Perhaps people wrote in and said "WTF?" and they realized they needed to be more careful. (Why they weren't so earlier, I don't know!)

                                  1. re: LindaWhit

                                    At least with chefs with real names and reputations at the helm or associated with the shows, we can be pretty sure that the food is edible.

                                    I expect some network to have a show called "pretty food" made up of totally inedible ingredients and never tasted. (I'll share my residuals for the idea with Chowhound.)

                                    1. re: shallots

                                      TFN's Semi-Homemade show takes care of that. Oh wait - that's not "pretty food". (But it's definitely inedible!)

                            2. I like it too, it's basically The Apprentice for restaurants.

                              1. Great concept for a show, but overall, I think the show failed miserably.

                                It's early, but I don't like the cast at all. Even Marco Pierre comes off as a jerk.

                                Everything seems scripted (from the machine above the stove falling, the glass on the oven door blowing up and the power going off all of a sudden? Come on! Way over the top!

                                They didn't introduce the characters at all. It's way too rushed. Very little is shown about what goes into the food production or menu choices. Then, once elimination time comes around, the one kid bows out?! WTF?! Why was he cast in the first place if he wasn't serious about the $250,000 prize and opportunity to own a restaurant?!

                                Ugh... I hated this show!

                                5 Replies
                                1. re: HD MM

                                  I also didn't like that we didn't learn anything about the characters; how they made the show etc. In fact, I don't think we really were informed enough about the concept of the show! I get it, in theory, but having a bit more information on the premier would have been great.

                                  The oven door broke because the guy touched it with his pan. Hot pan contacting cold glass could cause that (who knows if there was a scratch on the outside panel of the dual tempered glass door, how old the glass was etc). At first I thought it just spontaneously combusted but I went back and watched it again. The salamander though.....that looked to be improper installation!

                                  1. re: Dee S

                                    That all seemed like entire-kitchen-installed-in-one-day to me...

                                  2. re: HD MM

                                    The hubby's take on the salamander falling down was that "real chefs" don't stoop to using it; therefore it was rigged to fall if anyone went to use it. Who knows, what with editing, but the hubby points out that he didn't see anyone on the Red Team go for a salamander.

                                    As for the "real chefs" term, by that he meant that cooking at that level, the food should go out properly timed and freshly hot -- or at least that might be a point MPW wants to get across. We both know salamanders are common equipment in restaurant kitchens.

                                    1. re: harrie

                                      <The hubby's take on the salamander falling down was that "real chefs" don't stoop to using it; >

                                      HUH? Real chefs definitely use salamanders. Where did that come from?

                                      1. re: ChefJune

                                        <HUH? Real chefs definitely use salamanders. Where did that come from?>

                                        Clarification came in my next paragraph:

                                        <As for the "real chefs" term, by that he meant that cooking at that level, the food should go out properly timed and freshly hot -- or at least that might be a point MPW wants to get across. We both know salamanders are common equipment in restaurant kitchens.>

                                        And I guess to further clarify, both the hubby and I took the night's events to be a boot camp of sorts, where things are made harder than they have to be -- thus, no salamander.

                                  3. I'd like to enjoy this show, but it seems to have a few weaknesses compared to Hell's Kitchen and Last Restaurant Standing. How does he really know who to eliminate? The teams do their own thing and then the critic rips them a new one, and the losing team gets to sit there and throw one another under the bus until nobody's left? If so, then it's just Survivor in the Kitchen, and it's not going to be very interesting to watch.

                                    One of the things I like about Gordon Ramsay is that he's right there watching them the whole time and he KNOWS who's fouling up - and if someone tries to get manipulative they're out on their ear. And the strength of Last Restaurant Standing is the challenges where each couple gets a chance to redeem themselves (if they can) before somebody's kicked out.

                                    Eight teams and one out every week sounds like a very short series to me... what kind of curve balls are they going to throw into it to make it interesting? Is it going to have challenges? Non-elimination weeks? Or is it all going to be over in eight weeks time?

                                    1. Heard on the Howard Stern News that this guy had Gordon Ramsey reduced to tears when he was training in London. Ramsey was a sniveling bitch asking to be kicked.
                                      The beat goes on.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: phantomdoc

                                        Actually the teaser for this show had MPW stating, "I didn't make Ramsay cry. He chose to cry"... or something to that that effect.

                                      2. I just watched this, hoping it would be a replacement for Top Chef in my schedule.

                                        Wow. It was awful. It hits every reality tv cliché. The cast is obviously lacking in any skill or or personality. It's frantically paced and hard to follow, but also really boring. There's absolutely no logic behind the elimination, and the worst part: there's no food in it!

                                        This is not a cooking show: it's a reality show that happens to take place in a restaurant.

                                        5 Replies
                                        1. re: oolah

                                          i would agree there wasn't enough food in it at all. but i wouldn't say that none of the chefs have any skill. that doesn't seem fair. there were a few good dishes.
                                          that said i think your last line sums it up. but i think it's supposed to be a reality show in a restaurant not a cooking show.

                                          1. re: AMFM

                                            "This is not a cooking show: it's a reality show that happens to take place in a restaurant."

                                            While this is true, I also think that NBC is interested in broadcasting reality shows (complete with attendant clichés), not cooking shows, and to expect otherwise might be naive. Reality shows, with their attendant drama, are network TV bread and butter; cooking probably wouldn't be. There's a reason cooking-heavy shows, instructional and entertainment both, happen on PBS and cable networks.

                                            1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                              hmmm... not to seem contrary :) but isn't that what i said? just without the why. i think nbc is trying to make a reality show not a cooking show. if you could have heard me talking there were italics/emphasis on supposed. :)

                                              1. re: AMFM

                                                Sorry, yes! Ironically, I hadn't really read your post; I was replying to oolah, but hit the wrong reply button.

                                        2. I can't believe nobody yet has commented that this show is basically a retooling of the UK show "The Restaurant," which was a pretty decent reality t.v. show on food. I'm not really sure I like they way they've retooled the show for the American audience. In the UK version, each team had their own restaraunt, and each week had the chance to compete and perfect their vision, while week-by-week, the weaker contestant-teams were sent home. I just don't think that having 4 teams run a restaurant is a good test of the skills of the teams, as compared to the UK format.

                                          1. Oh, one more thing I found lacking as I am quite the HD snob.... Why was this show not in High Definition? A studio such as NBC should surely have the means to do this. Why are they so cheap as to not produce Chopping Block, The Apprentice or others in HD? Get with the times NBC!

                                            5 Replies
                                            1. re: HD MM

                                              HD MM, I was wondering the same thing! NBC often has many HD issues during their broadcast, so it could be that this one show couldn't air in HD. Let's hope next week's is back to HD. If not, I am going to be very irritated. no excuse for it.
                                              To keep this post on-topic, I'm not in love with this show, i like the format of Last Restaurant Standing much better. I do like MPW, he is intimidating but not 'in your face'. we'll see if that changes as the season progresses. I think the contestants are very weak, but not as horrible as they are on Hell's Kitchen, which I just cannot watch anymore.

                                              1. re: twiggles

                                                As one of the editors on the show, I can confirm it was NOT shot in HD; doesn't mean NBC will not decide to "upconvert", but it's native format was SD, not HD.

                                                Don't ask me why, as I asked that question several times myself. My personal feelings are that no prime-time Network show should be shot in anything OTHER than HD.

                                                But that and $1 will get you a terrible cup of joe.

                                                1. re: a213b

                                                  Can you tell us a bit more about the timing of the shoot and how many episodes there will be?
                                                  It's felt rushed so far, and it's not that easy to tell the contestants apart.
                                                  How many days in between shown episodes?

                                                  From the beginning, walking into the messed up rooms, to first service, was it 24 hours?

                                                  1. re: shallots

                                                    Whew, gosh ... production on the show was late Spring/early Summer of '08, and we edited Summer to early Fall, so I don't remember specific dates at this point. There's a total of 8 episodes, IIRC.

                                                    I will say that, as a food fan/foodie/chowhound/pick-your-adjective, I did mention that I felt the introduction of the characters was rushed and lacking in information. For example, did you know that Lisa was Head Chef at Wolfgang Puck's Spago in the early 80s?

                                                    I didn't like how we were directed to basically just drop them in the challenge, with little by way of introduction. This was a point on which we (editors and producers) went back and forth with NBC many times ... we even had a 1.5 - 2 minute "package" cut for each couple, but if you think of everything that needed to happen within an hour, there just wasn't enough time.

                                                    I think we would have been better served starting off with a 2 hour premier, that would have allowed us to introduce all of the contestants, the show concept, MPW, and still allowed us to show all of the components of the show that needed to be shown.

                                                    But that's just one person's opinion ...

                                                    1. re: a213b

                                                      thanks for the info! It's too bad that you couldn't include the introduction pieces. they would be very helpful! as far as the HD is concerned,if NBC is upconverting, they aren't changing the aspect ratio, which I guess is good. But I still can't believe it was shot in SD!

                                            2. This is a recent review of Angie's restaurant in Philly...


                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: Philly Ray

                                                wow. she seems even more annoying than she seemed on the show. since the argument clips were edited it gives me a sense of what khoa might have disliked and what zan (i think?) might have been so rudely responding to. yikes.