NBC puts White on ‘Chopping Block’

Granada serves up food-based reality show

NBC is cooking up a new entry in the increasingly crowded food-based reality show genre.

Peacock has greenlit “The Chopping Block,” a sort of “Hell’s Kitchen” meets “Top Chef” that will star noted Blighty chef Marco Pierre White. Skein, which will premiere next season, comes from Granada America, which co-produces “Hell’s Kitchen” (with A. Smith & Co.).

That’s not the only connection with “Kitchen.” Last fall, White replaced Gordon Ramsay as the host of the Brit version of the Fox hit.

White has also been cited as one of Ramsay’s mentors.

“Chopping Block,” to be exec produced by David Barbour and Julian Cress, will feature would-be chefs competing as couples in a bid to win their own restaurant.

The eight couples chosen for the series will be split into two teams, with each team assigned side-by-side restaurant spaces in Manhattan. They’ll then be charged with reality-style tasks, such as designing the space and generating buzz for their establishments.

A panel of judges will evaluate the contenders’ efforts. Professional food critics will review the restaurants and render a verdict the next morning.

One couple from the worst-performing eatery will be sent home each week.

NBC reality chief Craig Plestis said snagging White was key because the chef gives the show “credibility times 25,” as well as the larger-than-life personality so vital in reality TV.

“He’s the original rock-and-roll chef,” he said. “Food is his life, the core of his being. He won’t accept second best from these contestants. And he made Gordon Ramsay cry, so he’s going to make some of our people cry, too, I’m sure.”

White, a three-star Michelin chef who retired in 1999, is known for his work at restaurants such as the Oak Room, Mirabelle, the Canteen and Quo Vadis. He was wooed out of retirement to replace Ramsay on the U.K. version of “Hell’s Kitchen.”

“Chopping Block” shares a title and some creative details with a format developed by Cress and Barbour for Australia’s Nine Network. Former Granada America chief David Gyngell now runs Nine.

Dawn Airey, managing director of global content for Granada America parent ITV, said the creation of “Chopping Block” is a good”example of how a global content business should work.

“We have married some outstanding U.K. talent, nurtured by Natalka Znak of ITV Prods. in the U.K. 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.”

Plestis said NBC’s show will have some elements of the Oz skein, but is in fact a new format. In addition to featuring a star chef at its center, NBC’s show will boast continuing storylines and weekly eliminations; the Oz show features self-contained episodes.

In addition, “The real novel twist is having couples,” Plestis added. “That’s where you’re going to see all the drama.”

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