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Chopping Block Ep. 2

I'm liking MPW more and more. He's really a teacher and the teams would be well served to listen to his advice. It's too bad none of the teams seem talented enough to benefit from his wisdom. I particularly liked that MPW did a cooking demo for both teams.

Just some thoughts on this weeks episode. A caprese salad? Does anyone think that they can get away with making that these days? I liked how Nicole Miller and Jeffery Steingarten both called out Lisa on the Chilean sea bass. It is endangered and there is no reason to serve it. I cannot believed Michael thought it was okay to serve 5 day year old salmon. Angela seems to know how to make one thing and one thing only, crab cake, twice in two episodes. At least people really seem to like it. Is Kelsey there for anything else besides eye-candy? I don't think we've seen her cook anything yet.

If there were stronger cooks on this show it would be great.

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  1. None of those people -- none of them -- have any business owning or running a restaurant. Few of them have any business working in a restaurant.

    Disappointing. Makes Top Chef contestants look BRILLIANT.

    3 Replies
    1. re: chicgail

      What was said about the salmon and herpes? If they were going to ask their party host what to serve, why order the food in advance?

      1. re: Ericandblueboy

        Apparently they had no particular interest in meeting their customer's actual wants or needs, just in convincing their customer that they were nice people. Or something like that. Amateur Hour.

        And were did the 5-day old farm-raised salmon come from, anyway?

    2. i *really* want to like this show, but i can't get into it. maybe it's because i have a hard time taking MPW seriously when he's sporting checkered Vans à la Spicoli - the camera shots of his feet were giving me "Fast Times" flashbacks ;)

      but seriously, as you stated, i wish the contestants were stronger cooks. i think that's why i'm just not feelin' it. i also think NBC did the contestants a disservice by neglecting to provide viewers with more in-depth back-stories. it's really hard to root for anyone or develop much interest in the outcome when you know nothing about the people you're watching, regardless of their cooking skills.

      BTW, i couldn't believe Jeffrey Steingarten was supposed to be an "anonymous" critic/judge. did they really think NONE of the contestants would recognize him?

      7 Replies
      1. re: goodhealthgourmet

        There aren't back stories on Top Chef either. Does that bother you as well?

        The day of the anonymous critic are over. I have a friend that works at a well known restaurant in NYC and there is a book in the retsuarant with pictures of reviews as well as VIPs and they are expected to know everyone in the book.

        1. re: KTinNYC

          you know, it doesn't. and when i saw your question (which was a good one, by the way), i had to think about it for a minute. i guess it somehow feels as though the format of TC allows for random tidbits about the chefs to be revealed along the way, so that we get a better sense of them (or at least a sense of what *Bravo* wants us to think of them). it also helps that we see them doing a lot more cooking & interacting with each other on TC, which helps paint the picture.

          it's also entirely possible that since i'm such a TC fan i'm subconsciously biased against another show.

          1. re: goodhealthgourmet

            I agree with you that Bravo does a better job of introducing the cooks by telling you where the cooks are from and where they work and there is also the little meet and greet before the first quickfire where the cheftestants talk to one another but to be completely fair there isn't much of an introduction.

            1. re: KTinNYC

              agreed. like i said, maybe i'm biased. but i really do want to like this show! i'll give it another chance next week.

              1. re: KTinNYC

                <but to be completely fair there isn't much of an introduction.>

                there are, however, complete bios on the web site. Has NBC provided any additional info anywhere?

              2. re: goodhealthgourmet

                I think TC is just formatted so differently, and after a few episodes we do "get to know" the chefs a bit.

                I think this bit of conversation is a strong argument for all the folks who complain that they don't want to see "drama" on TC, all they care about is "the food" bla bla bla..
                I for one have always said that I need a bit of the drama because otherwise - without the benefit of tasting the food - how would we know who to root for?
                We, as viewers would have absolutely no emotional investment.
                I think this is why we TC fanatics are so passionate about it, whether certain folks want to admit it or not.

                And this is why I probably won't ever get into this show - it's just edited too fast for me, and I can't see having enough time now to get to know anyone.

          2. So I didn't really like the show any more this week. :-( It just felt eh. I don't know anything about the characters or why they want to run a restaurant, so I don't really care who stays or who goes. And I still don't completely "get" how the challenges run each week. More than anything though, Marco NEEDS to stop pointing his finger at the camera (and us). It seriously, seriously bugs.

            On the upside, I still love Jeffrey. He was delightfully restrained compared to how he is on Iron Chef, but still fair and insightful. Maybe he thought being overly harsh about the food this crew put out would be like shooting fish in a barrell. Either way, he was the bright spot for me this week. Honestly, he was the only reason I watched- because I knew he was going to be on. Without him, I'm not sure I'm going to watch next week.

            Still sad. I really wanted to fill my Top Chef void with this show.

            1. The thing that bothers me most, on this show as well as others, is the bad hair. Can we please field a cast of chef-contestants that does't sport the 'mohawk/fauxhawk'?

              1. I'm with the previous posters who aren't too thrilled with this show. I'm having a really hard time following it, let alone warming up to it and/or any of it's characters. For that I blame NBC and the abysmal editing. It's like someone threw all the video in a blender at high speed for a few minutes and is calling it trendy and cutting edge. For me? Not so much.

                Actually, we don't really know that the contestants don't have strong cooking skills. What we do know for sure is that they don't know how to run a kitchen, which is really what this show is about, not cooking. For instance, in 2 episodes, we've discovered that they can't:
                1) organize a kitchen
                2) put together a cohesive plan
                3) can't select or purchase appropriate/adequate ingredients to construct a menu
                4) develop an interesting menu
                5) can't execute the menus they do come up with
                6) can't select a leader and/or the leader selected for them can't (or refuses) to lead
                7) define the basic duties and responsibilities for the kitchen and front of the house, i.e. who is going to do what and when
                8) can't come up with a game plan on how to attack the evenings service
                9) make the connection between BOH anad FOH. An owner or exec. chef has responsibility for both areas of the restaurant not just what's cooking that night
                10) most of them clearly don't have any clue about how to organize and run the front of the house smoothly.

                These people may truly be able to cook extremely well in the real world, what they've shown - or at least what the producers and editors of this show have shown us - is that they lack the business plan to adequately pull a whole restaurant together. The closest thing I saw to any attempt to lead or supervise was when the exec on the red team made the salad station redo the salad because they had not followed his direction and tossed it too early. Steingarten liked the salad and made a point of mentioning that it was just about perfect. Probably would not have had the same reaction had chef allowed the salads that were tossed too early to go out.

                I'm tired of shows where there is constant bickering, it's not entertaining to me. And a lot of the bickering in this show is because they aren't communicating with each other. They're talking - or in several cases bitching - at each other but they aren't hearing what the person is saying because they aren't listening, they're intent on their agenda, not the other person or teams needs. Part of owning or operating a business, any business, is listening and really hearing what your employees are saying, considering if what they're saying is worthwhile and valid, evaluating how that fits into the overall scheme of the business and either incorporating comments or suggestions if they merit it. The lack of planning, organizational and people skills in this bunch isn't inspiring much confidence in their ability to run a business.

                As for MPW, I'm amused by him. He's absolutely right in his assessments so far, and I thought his scallop dish looked brilliant, I wonder if NBC will put it on line. There's not much on at 8 PM on Wednesday in my neck of the woods, so I'll probably watch again. Why I'm not sure. None of the players are very likeable. They are all rather shrill and brittle, and for me, that's not Must See TV

                3 Replies
                1. re: DiningDiva

                  I also am very disappointed in this show. Am I supposed to root for people who clearly have no interest in "doing things right" and communicating with *their own partners* for goodness sake? This is way too "jerry springer" for me. I miss top chef!

                  1. re: DGresh

                    Fave criticism of this show: "way to Jerry Springer for me"

                    lol, so true!

                  2. re: DiningDiva

                    Diva, your first paragraph says it all for me. I've watched the last two episodes; still don't know a whole lot about any of them (other than the one woman was RIGHT about the damn water glasses on the table, and her daughter's a snot, IMO - at least in what NBC has shown us). Nor do I really care about any of them. It's a half-assed put-together show - but I guess I'll watch while I'm waiting for LOST to come on at 9pm.

                  3. This show has so much potential, but it's a bummer that the producers casted mediocre (being nice) chefs. Also, Bravo's TC somehow is able to draw us into cheering on a favorite. This show and HK I could care less on who stays and goes... All the contestants seem hateful and immature.

                    1. Bottomline: The show's low budget and really looks it.

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: TrishUntrapped

                        What was MPW's point about the chicken knuckle?
                        Is Chilean sea bass what you actually get when you order it? My understanding, which may well be wrong, is that Chilean sea bass is actually the Patagonia toothfish, which is an endangered species. So basically any bass is passed off as Chilean and that title allows the restaurants to charge more for it.

                        1. re: tofuburrito

                          Chicken knuckle - I think he had demonstrated about stripping the meat on the leg back to the knuckle (similar to frenching a lamb loin chop). A presentation thing.

                          1. re: tofuburrito

                            tofuburrito, Chilean Sea Bass *is* Patagonian Toothfish, and yes, thanks to overfishing, the wild-caught fish is endangered. it's also typically caught using long-lines, which results in an excess of by-catch, including endangered albatross. oh, and it's extremely high in mercury to boot.

                            there *is* one certified sustainable fishery, but they distribute a relatively small amount of product...so if you see it on the menu, there are 3 possibilities: 1) it's from the sustainable fishery (which is only likely to be the case at an expensive, well-connected, and environmentally conscious restaurant or market); 2) it was obtained from an illegal fishery, AND was most likely previously frozen; or 3) it's not really Chilean Sea Bass.

                            the moral of the story: don't buy it, don't order it, and don't serve it.

                            1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                              What is confusing about the show last night is that Steingarten ranted about Chilean Sea Bass being endangered and he would never order it... Yet, his wife still ordered the dish knowing that they were out of halibut.

                        2. I missed the show last night and forgot to DVR it. Does anyone know when/if reruns are broadcast? I could always count on Bravo to replay TC episodes over and over. Not sure what NBC does.

                          4 Replies
                          1. re: LJBTampa

                            Last night they showed episode 1 on Bravo from 7-8, the hour before the new episode broadcast on NBC. Check the listings, maybe this will be a weekly thing?

                            1. re: LJBTampa

                              Go to hulu.com or nbc.com both will show the entire episode online.

                                1. re: a_and_w

                                  you can watch them online at nbc.com

                              1. I actually rather enjoy this show. I don't think the chefs are totally incompetent. They're much better than the Hell's Kitchen contestants from years past. I was also pleasantly surprised at how eloquent and constructive Marco Pierre White turned out to be. I'm really surprised Chopping Block doesn't get more love.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: a_and_w

                                  Yes, MPW turns out to be a great mentor but it really is unfortunate how the skill level of the cheftestants are so low.

                                2. the one place that this outshines TC is that i feel like this show is in new york. last seasons TC, with the exception of the 1st episode could pretty much have been anywhere

                                  3 Replies
                                  1. re: thew

                                    don't think you'll hear any argument on that point!

                                    1. re: thew

                                      It's funny you say that because I don't think they have been north of St. Marks or South of Houston. They just walk from the old Kelley and Peng location to Marion's. Two city blocks. But you're right, the Bowery still looks like what you think of when you think of NYC.

                                      ETA: Oh, wait I forgot they shot outside the storefronts of the designers on Elizabeth and Bond last night.

                                      1. re: KTinNYC

                                        They are also uptown in a later episode, just FYI.

                                    2. The show concept pretty much stinks. The contestants are typical "realty" show fare. This is so completly lame right down to the false drama of exploding glass convection oven doors and a falling salamander with out the gas hooked up.
                                      What a joke.
                                      I'm soooooooo dissapointed that MPW has stooped to this level. This is like seeing an Anthony Bourdain happy meal at McDonalds.
                                      Just pathetic.

                                      18 Replies
                                      1. re: Fritter

                                        Why does the concept stink? It's restaurant wars every night...

                                        1. re: a_and_w

                                          There is nothing wrong with the concept. It's the poor execution by the bad cheftestants. MPW makes the show watchable, unlike Hell's Kitchen which is completely unwatchable even with Ramsey. I'm not a Ramesy hater btw, Kitchen Nightmares is tolerable.

                                          1. re: KTinNYC

                                            Yes, I love MPW's low key style, which reminds me of how Ramsay behaves on the British versions of his shows. Do you think the Chopping Block cheftestants are worse than this year's donkeys on Hell's Kitchen?

                                            1. re: a_and_w

                                              I could not bring myself to watch this season of HK. I suffered through the first 2 dabbled with the 3rd and then gave up completely. Are they still making beef wellington and risotto for every service?

                                              1. re: KTinNYC

                                                Are they still making beef wellington and risotto for every service?
                                                ~~~~~~
                                                Almost always. :-) The doofus that got booted last night (DURING service!) pre-parcooked the risotto all in one big pot for both kitchens (punishment for losing was prepping both kitchens). It seems by cooking it all together, it just made for a mass of mushy, solid mess.

                                                  1. re: KTinNYC

                                                    LOL! Exactly. Although there WERE a lot more bleeps this time...and not just from Gordo - the contestants were quite vocal as well in their confessionals.

                                                    At this point, I'm not watching it to see any good food - I'm watching it for the train wreck it is.

                                          2. re: a_and_w

                                            The concept stinks because of the incredible talent of MPW Vs the people on the show. We are talking about one of the worlds greatest Chef's stooping to the level of a silly reality show.
                                            If they would have done a Hell's kitchen concept with real working Chef's (Vs convicts, cafeteria workers, housewives and pseudo culinary instructors) as in the show "chopped" and allowed MPW to function as a chef instead of a baby setter then that would have been a great show.
                                            The reason that producers continue to cast such complete loosers for theese shows escapes me.
                                            This is not restaurant wars but rather the battle between dumb and dumber. As sad as it is I honestly think there is more talent on HK this year.
                                            I would agree the concept could be much better *If* the show left out the false drama and was actually succinct from episode to episode.

                                            1. re: Fritter

                                              I think you are confusing concept vs. execution.

                                              1. re: Fritter

                                                You seriously think the chefs on Chopping Block are worse than the donkeys on Hell's Kitchen? I'm not sure I agree, though I seem to be in the minority. What about years past? I feel like the cute blond who made the finals in S3 was worse than most of the contestants on Chopping Block.

                                                That said, I'm with you 100% that shows like Chopping Block and Hell's Kitchen would both benefit from better talent.

                                                1. re: a_and_w

                                                  Concept Vs execution? That's really splitting hairs IMO.
                                                  The bottom line is we have one of the worlds greatest chef's wasting his talent on a silly reality show with lame contestants, at best.
                                                  Can you say S E L L O U T ?
                                                  This is a guy that walked from a Michelin three star restaurant to persue the purity of his craft.

                                                  "You seriously think the chefs on Chopping Block are worse than the donkeys on Hell's Kitchen"

                                                  NOOOO! I think there is better talent on HK this season than "The Chopping Block".
                                                  "Chopped" has real working chef's. IMO all of theese shows would be vastly better if they used actual working chef's (Like TC) VS the wanna B's like The chopping block and many that find their way on HK.

                                                  1. re: Fritter

                                                    Concept vs. execution is not splitting hairs. The show is basically TC's Restaurant Wars week after week but because of the editing and poor performances the show suffers. Concept good. Execution bad. See the difference?

                                                    MPW did not walk away for "the purity of his craft". He claims, and I believe him, to want to spend more time with his children.

                                                    1. re: KTinNYC

                                                      "Concept vs. execution is not splitting hairs"

                                                      Well that's one opinion.

                                                      1. re: Fritter

                                                        From Merriam Webster;

                                                        concept
                                                        1 : something conceived in the mind : thought , notion 2 : an abstract or generic idea generalized from particular instances

                                                        execution
                                                        1: the act or process of executing : performance

                                                        Words do have meanings not opinions.

                                                        1. re: KTinNYC

                                                          IMO the concept stinks, You are entitled to your opinion.

                                                          1. re: Fritter

                                                            Do you think Restaurant Wars "stinks" when done on Top Chef?

                                                    2. re: Fritter

                                                      When did I mention concept vs. execution?

                                                      MPW is no more of a "sell out" than Gordon Ramsey or Tom C. I think he already hosts the British version of Hell's Kitchen, so this is no great step down.

                                                      I agree the chefs on Chopped are better than either HK or CB.

                                                      What about seasons past of HK? Like I said, the blond who made the finals two years ago was no better than anyone I've seen so far on CB.

                                                      1. re: a_and_w

                                                        "MPW is no more of a "sell out" than Gordon Ramsey or Tom C. "

                                                        Not sure I agree but I do see your point. I don't think Tom C has stooped to the level of either MPW or GR.

                                                        "What about seasons past of HK?"
                                                        I agree with you there has been lousy "talent" there as well. Like the pseudo culinary instructor this season or Lacey the cafeteria worker.
                                                        Both worthless.
                                                        OTOH I'd say every seasons top six from HK is vastly better than any thing I'm seeing on "The chopping block" .
                                                        For me this show and HK are both train wrecks.
                                                        "Chopped" is pretty lame as well but at least they use working Chefs.

                                            2. I've read everyone's posts so far and feel I need to add my opinion. I think the concept of the show has a ton of potential. What is lacking, IMHO, is structure. When Ep 1 aired, it appeared we were dropped in the middle of a quest and got to view bits and pieces of their quest. Ep 2 did not leave off where Ep 1 left off; I feel like we've missed *something*. How did the head chef rotate from one person to another? Were the teams given clear direction? What was their goal in the initial challenge? We found out what the winner got AFTER the challenge winner was announced. How did winning the challenge give the winner an advantage? It's just so muddled.

                                              I think there are some talented people on the show and all but their talents are not being shown! The eps did not show us much interaction (besides yelling and sniping at each other) nor did the eps show us much behind each team's concept for creating their menu. Where the heck did crab cakes come from on ep 2? They weren't on anyone's menu and if they were passed starters, no description was provided.

                                              I really would like to see them add structure to the show so WE know what we are watching. Heck, I can run around like mad in the kitchen but that doesn't necessarily make for good TV!