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April 6

Pre-script: Last time out, I wrote about what makes a good deal. One reader took me up on the "send me an e-mail thing," and apparently it was one of the people I called out because the response included the names of various contestants on Deal or No Deal that I didn't remember. So I click the "reply" button, and after sending off a carefully worded response, I get back an auto-reply. Basically, I had to fill out some sort of questionnaire to be added to the guy's contact list.

Nuh-uh. If you send me a reply, you have to allow me to play on even footing. None of this passive-aggressive stuff.


I originally planned to write about comparing the culinary completions The Chopping Block and Hell's Kitchen. I went to the NBC website to watch all three episodes. Lo and behold, Chopping Block was canceled after those three. And all in all, I preferred it.

The problems were several. Hell's Kitchen had the leg-up in at least two categories: a more well-known and brasher host, and being there first. But I still think Chopping Block was better and did not deserve that fate.

If you hadn't seen it, eight pairs (think Amazing Race) were competing to win the grand prize of their own restaurant. After every episode, one pair was cut. The winner of the Great White Challenge (see, the chef in command is Marco Pierre White, so it's a play on words) would get a leg up for the Dinner Service, and whoever had most impressed the Super Secret Mystery Guest Critic would win.

The problem is that the show is too close to Hell's Kitchen for both to exist, even though I think Chopping Block achieved the goal better. If the grand prize is your own restaurant, the team should actually have run a restaurant to win the grand prize, as opposed to just pushing out table orders. Hell's Kitchen contenders don't pick out decor until the Grand Final. Most of them don't have to serve directly to the diners, either.

Let's consider the host. Gordon Ramsay is now legendary for swearing up and down the line, berating his contestants, and expecting the best from them. Marco Pierre White also has high standards, but he is able to communicate what he wants without breaking plates and throwing towels. I appreciate that. But I also appreciate the more laid back style of Marco Pierre White. Let's be honest, it wouldn't take much to be less amped than Gordon, but the style is markedly different, and I prefer that of Marco. He shows that you can have high standards, expect people to meet them and not run your mouth.

I still enjoy Hell's Kitchen, and will watch as long as the show stays on the air. But it makes me a bit sad that a quality show like The Chopping Block is gone.


Travis Eberle might send you a primo recipe if you drop him a line at But for the love of Alton Brown, make sure you have replies open!