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Anatomy of a chef competition failure: NBC's Chopping Block

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April 1st, 2009

Alessandra Stanley of The New York times takes an in-depth look at why NBC's Chopping Block was canceled after only three episodes.

There are all kinds of lessons in Mr. White's abrupt fall from grace, though none of them are of much use to home cooks seeking tips for blender hollandaise or brining.

As anyone who has watched "Hell's Kitchen," "Top Chef" or "Iron Chef America" knows, cooking shows are no more about food than talk shows are about conversation. Chef competitions, in particular, showcase personality and pressure cooker brinkmanship - boiling stockpots and roiling tempers. Success depends on the charisma of the star, the chemistry (preferably bad) of judges and contestants and, above all, timing. Mr. White, handsome, talented and famous, fell short on all fronts.

[...]

Network cooking shows aren't about food, but they are about cooks. Mr. Ramsay is in the kitchen, not at the judges' table, and he turns every roast duck and baked Alaska into a morality play in which good prep work triumphs over all kinds of evil: burned sauces, slow wait service and over-salted stock. And he does it in the spirit of the British Navy circa 1800 - with ritual floggings and pungent insults. "Bollocking" is an English term for harsh reprimand that one rarely hears anymore, except on British cooking shows, where chefs are constantly bollocking their charges. Mr. Ramsay is the bollocking king. - read the rest at nytimes.com

As someone who's seen every episode of Hell's Kitchen, I found the examination interesting.  When you sit down at a pricey restaurant the food matters very much, but when you sit down to watch a chef competition on TV...

 
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