Picks and Pans Review: The Chopping Block

updated 03/16/2009 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 03/16/2009 AT 01:00 AM EDT

NBC, March 11, 8 p.m. ET |



Block is a minor entry in the subgenre that includes Hell's Kitchen and Top Chef: shows for foodies with anger-management issues. Eight pairs of contestants compete to start a Manhattan restaurant that will become their dream or (more likely) nightmare. The most intriguing couple is Lisa Stalvey and Michael Anapol, happily divorced. She's missing several fingers from a kitchen mishap. But the host is a letdown. With his maestro's hair, British chef Marco Pierre White is a caustically severe adviser who seems keenly aware of his own gravitas. He's often shot sitting alone, unspooling wisdom on how to cook simply: "All complication does is create confusion. Confusion creates inconsistency. Inconsistency creates failure." What is this, Cooking with Yoda?

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