The Chopping Block

TV review by
Melissa Camacho, Common Sense Media
The Chopping Block TV Poster Image
Cooking competition has mild content but lacks flavor.

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The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Positive Messages

Contestants compete for the chance to win cash and prizes, so there's standard game show/reality competition greed in play. Chef White and food critics are haughty and often harsh in their criticism, but it's intended to help the contestants succeed in the business. Participants are from all walks of life.


Arguments are frequent among the stressed-out contestants. White uses metaphors like "the critic loads the gun, but I will pull the trigger -- but no weapons are ever visible. One contestant is missing fingers on one hand and briefly discusses how she lost them in a kitchen accident.


Words like "pissed off" and "balls" are audible. Stronger curse words ("s--t," "f--k") are bleeped and mouths are blurred.


The series is a promotional vehicle for Chef White. It also showcases some well-known restaurant critics from across the country, including Corby Kummer and Jeffrey Steingarten.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Wine and cocktail consumption is visible during meal services and tastings. The competitors often drink wine after a service.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that while this reality show -- in which couples compete for prizes designed to help them open their own restaurant -- showcases some of the skills and strategies necessary for running a successful restaurant, it's primarily a promotional vehicle for the show's host, celebrity chef Marco Pierre White. The content is milder overall than that on similar shows like Top Chef and Hell's Kitchen, there is some strong language ("pissed off," "balls"; stronger words are bleeped), as well as frequent arguments and a fair bit of drinking during meal services.

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What's the story?

In THE CHOPPING BLOCK, eight couples compete for the chance to win the money and equipment they need to open their own restaurant. Hosted by world-renowned Chef Marco Pierre White, the show divides the eight pairs into two teams of four; together they must create daily menus and provide a complete dinner service to hungry New York City patrons -- including anonymous food critics placed by White to taste and judge the food served in each establishment. The couples on the team with the better dinner service are safe from elimination, while those left "on the chopping block" face being sent home by White.

Is it any good?

Like most food and restaurant-themed competition shows, The Chopping Block features lots of frazzled cooks and servers trying to feed picky patrons, win over food critics, and impress a celebrity judge. What sets this show apart (and not in a good way) is that it focuses so much on White that it's sometimes hard to remember that it's a competition.

Thanks to the master chef's pretentious demeanor, watching him isn't particularly inspirational or educational. While the series does highlight the need to use strategic thinking, teamwork, organization, and leadership in order to run a successful restaurant, it doesn't really emphasize the passion that White and the contestants have about food and/or cooking. And thanks to some heated arguments between the competitors (which are usually peppered with iffy language, though the worst is bleeped), it's hard to really like or root for any of the contestants. Bottom line? In the end, this show fails to serve up any real fun and/or inspiration.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the popularity of food and restaurant-themed TV shows. What's the appeal? Are these shows intended to showcase the realities of cooking and running a restaurant, or is it more about promoting famous chefs? Families can also discuss what it takes to open a restaurant. What are some of the challenges? Is being a good chef enough to have a successful restaurant? Why or why not? If you had a chance to open a restaurant, what kind of food would you serve?

TV details

  • Premiere date: March 11, 2009
  • Cast: Marco Pierre White
  • Network: NBC
  • Genre: Reality TV
  • TV rating: TV-PG
  • Available on: Streaming
  • Last updated: March 14, 2020

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