March 11, 2009 06:32 PM by DA Southern
NBC’s The Chopping Block is another cooking show with acclaimed Chef Marco Pierre White who challenges potential restaurateurs for fame and glory. This time it is two against two as friends, lovers, and relatives, who cook for a living, go for broke as they seek the prize of being the last one standing on The Chopping Block. Eight couples will begin the competition and are immediately thrown into the thick of it as they open two different restaurants and are critiqued and stressed as they face elimination.
The couples are quickly showcased as we see them all start to work together in two teams, Red and Black, as they open two restaurants across the street from each other in New York City, the self-proclaimed toughest restaurant city in America and a chance to win $250,000 to open their own restaurant.
We meet married couple, Shari and Dean Della Ventura, Sisters Kelsey Henderson and Vanessa Henderson, two cousins from Washington, DC, Denise Nguyen & Khoa Nguyen, Once married and former hippies, Lisa Stalvey and Michael Anapol, Good friends Mikey Torres and Chad Phillips, Engaged couple Panya Rice and Michael Holmes, brothers Alex McCoy and Nate McCoy and mother and daughter team from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Angela Brown-Johnson & Samantha Johnson.
The teams were in the disheveled restaurants to organize and clean the spaces to get ready for their first service. Chef White gathered the chefs to tell them that they were opening for business at 7:00 PM and with a lot of work to do but that the chefs would have a cook-off to decide the head cook for each team.
The chefs were allowed into a food truck for fifteen minutes to grab food for their dishes and Chef White was astounded how disorganized the teams seemed. The chefs were stressed immediately as they realized the enormous challenge of cooking for one of the best chefs in the world.
Chad started off for the Red team with pan fried scallops, which Chef White hated; Michael’s dish was a hit and Kelsey’s Chicken Piccata was a miss as well. At the end, Lisa, of the Red team, was announced as the Head Chef for the Red team with her veal dish, much to the dismay of Michael.
Black team had early disasters in the kitchen as Dean’s salamander burned to a crisp, leaving the chefs already struggling to impress. Chef Marco started with Khoa’s scallops which was spoiled by his sweet corn glaze and Dean’s lamb was too convoluted for Chef Marco to enjoy. Than’s roasted chicken was simple and impressive for Chef White but Angie’s Jambalaya failed to be restaurant quality enough for him. In the end, Than’s chicken won the day and he was appointed Head Chef for the Black Team.
The chefs sprung into action and quickly decided on their menus for the night’s service. In the Red kitchen, Lisa went with a simple menu for the first challenge so as to not overwhelm the kitchen and not to be too ambitious in the first challenge, not knowing her team’s capabilities.
The guest started arriving and already there seemed to be a breakdown in the Black kitchen with the chefs not communicating at all. What made it worse was the food critic, Corby Kummer, who would be sampling the team’s food to savage both teams in the end.
The chefs of the Black Team were amazingly bad in the first service as the chefs who were assigned as servers were totally inept at what they were doing. Chef White was astounded that Lisa of the Red kitchen had not taken the leadership role with her team.
With insane errors from a price tag still left on plates to he servers mispronouncing dishes and not getting out food, we were all prepared for Chef White to pull a Gordon Ramsay and yell “Shut it down.” The Red team fared slightly better from a server standpoint, but food critic, Corby Kummer, still found plenty to be upset with as the food he was served was terribly over cooked.
The Critic’s Review was as painful to watch as anything. The Black team was first to be savaged and Kummer liked the shrimp dish but was not quite as impressed with the chicken. The Red Team was not impressive with the fish but Kummer loved the sauce that accompanied the fish, making it a hit with the critic. Kummer hated the dessert and told Chef White that the Black Restaurant would not last one night in New York City and that the Red Team won the challenge.
Chef White then told the Black Team would be losing a couple and accompanied the Black team to their restaurant. Chef White went around the table and asked each who they think should go. Many of the chefs pointed to the Head Chef, Than, as being responsible for the poor performance but Zan, Than’s brother, and Angie, who was responsible for back-of-the-house duties, got into a heated battle for supremacy in the eyes of Chef Marco as to who should go home.
Chef White said he had a moral duty to make the right decision when it comes to people’s dreams and was focused on Than and Zan to go home. Right before he was to announce his decision, Khoa, in a shocking but eloquent speech, announced that the competition was not for he and Denise and they decided to leave the show instead of Chef White’s choice. Chef White announced that Than and Zan had escaped being sent home and the event seemed to rally the Black Team for the next challenge.
Photo Credit: NBC