NBC’s declaring war on Top Chef…
Legendary British chef Marco Pierre White has been tapped for a new reality show on NBC. The Chopping Block is skedded for 2009 and will feature eight American couples running two neighboring restaurants in Manhattan, with one couple being eliminated per week. Of course, this being reality television… there will be the obligatory challenges and mystery tasks.
White has prior television experience; he’s the current host of Hell’s Kitchen‘s UK incarnation.
The show will be produced by Granada America and the format… It’s interesting. Teams consisting of four couples each will not only design a restaurant, open it, do menu planning and publicity, but will also be tasked with “challenges” such as preparing freshly killed wild game, handling a wedding reception and dealing with a random “mystery cuisine.”
Executive producers are David Barbour and Julian Cress and there’s (alas) no word on where the New York storefronts used for the show will be. Or, for that matter, if they’ve even been picked yet.
NBC’s press release follows after the jump.
NBC TURNS UP THE HEAT WITH ‘THE CHOPPING BLOCK,’ NEW COOKING COMPETITION SERIES STARRING SUPER CHEF AND ORIGINAL BAD BOY OF BRITISH COOKING MARCO PIERRE WHITE
Opinionated Chef/Restaurateur White and Panel of Judges Will Put Eight Couples Through Weekly Elimination Challenges Until One Winning Pair Realizes Their Lifelong Dream Of Opening Their Own Chic Manhattan Restaurant
BURBANK – March 18, 2008 – NBC will feature celebrated chef and restaurateur Marco Pierre White (UK’s “Hell’s Kitchen”) in a new original cooking competition series “The Chopping Block,” in which the British Michelin star chef will offer neophyte hopeful chefs/restaurateurs working in couples a chance to compete in America’s greatest restaurant challenge for their chance to open their own Manhattan restaurant. The series is being produced for NBC by Granada America.
The announcement was made today by Craig Plestis, Executive Vice President, Alternative Programming, Development and Specials, NBC Entertainment.
“Everyone flirts with the idea of what it would be like to own their own restaurant,” said Plestis. “Our series will expose all of the unseen pitfalls, the behind-the-scenes madness and utter exhaustion that accompanies the passion, art and business of a new restaurant all under Marco’s watchful and critical eye. In the end, one couple will be totally thrilled – but their real challenge will have just begun.”
Dawn Airey, ITV’s Managing Director of Global Content added: “We are delighted to be partnering with NBC on this dynamic new series. This is a perfect example of how a global content business should work. We have married some outstanding UK talent, nurtured by Natalka Znak of ITV Productions in UK and our own network, with an original format created by David Barbour and Julian Cress of our Los Angeles based office, Granada America, to create what I am sure will be a globally successful format.”
The eight couples chosen to participate will arrive in Manhattan hoping to fulfill a single dream – to open their own quality restaurant. The controversial and unpredictable White represents their best chance as one of the world’s most notable chefs and restaurateurs.
“I am lucky enough to have realized my dream and I will never achieve anything greater than 3 stars Michelin,” said White. “What excites me today is creating opportunities for others to fulfill their dreams and visions. The great thing about ‘The Chopping Block’ is that it gives couples this amazing opportunity to change their lives forever and the interesting bit for me is seeing who appreciates this and takes full advantage of it.”
The heat is on when White ushers the couples – split into two teams of four couples each – to two empty restaurant spaces, side-by-side, in the middle of Manhattan. There, they are afforded less than a week to accomplish a multitude of tasks, including: a design and makeover of the space, planning a menu and generating buzz-worthy publicity to ensure a crowd. Both establishments will open at the same time and will be competing for the same customers each night – as well as against 26,000 other restaurants in the world’s busiest (and hungriest) city.
A panel of judges will be assigned to observe the chaos that inevitably unfolds on opening night. The next morning, after the dust has settled, White will return with the reviews. The worst-performing restaurant’s operators will have to plead their case – because one couple will be sent packing.
Subsequent episodes will test the remaining contestants on their restaurant and culinary skills, such as concocting a signature dish, preparing freshly killed game, handling a wedding reception and how savvy they are with four of the world’s classic cuisines – French, Asian, Italian and Mediterranean. Ultimately, each episode concludes as the weary wannabe chefs face the critics – and Chef White. One couple per week will be asked to turn in their aprons and go home.
The challenges grow more intense until the grand finale where one couple will make a lasting impression that will allow them to realize their lifelong dream and open their own chic Manhattan restaurant.
Born in Leeds, UK in 1961 the son of a local chef and Italian mother, White trained with Michael Lawson, Albert Roux, Nico Landenis, Pierre Koffmann and Raymond Blanc before opening the restaurant that won him two Michelin stars, Harveys. He then went on to win three stars at the Hyde Park Hotel and the final accolade was to keep these stars and win five red knives and forks – the ultimate accolade for in dining service and the only restaurant in Britain to be granted this honor, at The Oak Room. His restaurants in the UK included The Canteen, Mirabelle, Quo Vadis, Criterion, Marco Pierre White at the Hyde Park Hotel and The Oak Room.
He inspired a generation of super star chefs including Gordon Ramsay, Mario Batali and Heston Blumenthal and made it his mission to raise standards of cooking and service.
White retired from the kitchen in 1999 and handed back his three Michelin stars. He was persuaded to go back into the kitchen by ITV Productions for series three of the UK’s hit reality show “Hell’s Kitchen” and proved that his fiery passion was still burning brightly.
“The Chopping Block” is produced by Granada America. David Barbour and Julian Cress are the executive producers.