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Mar 18, 2009 06:31 PM

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.