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NBC reveals the identities of 'The Chopping Block's eight couples


By John Bracchitta, 02/19/2009 

NBC has revealed the identities of the eight couples who will compete in The Chopping Block, the new Marco Pierre White-fronted reality cooking series that will premiere on Wednesday, March 11 at 8PM ET/PT.

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The Chopping Block will feature eight couples who are divided into two teams of four couples each and assigned to two empty restaurants that are side-by-side each other in Manhattan. Each restaurant will be given one week to design their space, create a menu and publicize their restaurants opening, along with many other tasks as well, before they both have their grand opening on the same night.

In each episode, food critics will be assigned to each restaurant to judge the contestants progress. The worst performing teams will then go before White, a former three-star Michelin chef, and one couple will be eliminated from the competition.

The final couple remaining in the competition will win the show's grand prize of $250,000.

The identities of the eight couples competing on The Chopping Block -- as well as their NBC supplied biographical info -- are:

- Lisa Stalvey and Michael Anapol, a separated couple from Los Angeles, CA

Once married and former hippies, Lisa Stalvey and Michael Anapol are 50 something California natives. Stalvey, currently executive chef at Malibu Catering in Malibu, trained and worked for Wolfgang Puck, was a head chef at Spago and has opened many restaurants. While working at L'Orangerie, Stalvey lost several fingers in a kitchen accident, but that hasn't stopped her from having a successful kitchen career. Anapol is currently a server and assistant manager at Abuelitas Restaurant in Malibu. Both hope to open up their own restaurant/café.


- Angela Brown-Johnson and Samantha Johnson, a mother and daughter team from Philadelphia, PA

This mother and daughter team from Philadelphia, Pa., are all about the restaurant business. Feisty Angela Brown-Johnson, 53, is a very busy person. Not only is she the owner and executive chef at Angie Brown Restaurant Bar Lounge, she is also Sous Chef at Aramark Campus Inc. and a Chef Instructor. Her daughter Samantha Johnson, was previously Miss Pennsylvania USA 2007, and tends to work the front of the house. She had a brain tumor removed in 2007 and knows if she can make it through that -- she can make it through anything.


- Dean Della Ventura and Shari Della Ventura, a married couple from Millbury, MA

The "all American couple," Shari and Dean Della Ventura have only been married for a year. Dean, 40, started his culinary career at age 15 in his mother’s deli/catering business and then became a Chef at Point Breeze Restaurant. He quit the restaurant business after hitting economic hardships and went on to being an electrician, but then returned to his love of cooking and was hired as executive chef at the Horse Shoe Pub and Restaurant . Shari, 37, is a waitress and Office Manager at Point Breeze. They believe this is their last chance to finally stop struggling and get ahead.


- Panya Rice and Michael Holmes, an engaged couple from Atlanta, GA

Panya Rice and Michael Holmes live in Atlanta, GA with their two children. Together they own and operate a personal chef service called A Taste of Thyme. Rice handles the marketing and PR side, while Michael is the chef.


- Denise Nguyen and Khoa Nguyen, a team of cousins from Washington, D.C.

This team of cousins from Washington, D.C. has a deep family history that goes back to their grandparents owning restaurants. Naturally, they both gravitated towards the restaurant and culinary industry with dreams of opening their very own establishment. In 2005, Khoa Nguyen received an AOS of Culinary Arts, from the Culinary Institute of America. They both believe that participating on the show is a once in a lifetime opportunity to possibly achieve their dreams.


- Alex McCoy and Nate McCoy, a team of brothers from Cabin John, MD

At a young age, brothers Alex McCoy and Nate McCoy have a lot of restaurant experience. Their love of food and restaurants is something they both share because their mother is a chef. Alex was offered his first head chef position at the age of 17 and is now Head Chef and Bar Manager at Rugby Food and Spirits. Nate McCoy received his Culinary Arts Degree from L'Academie de Cuisine in 2007. Although both are competitive with each other, together they hope to open a Southern-French fusion restaurant.


- Mikey Torres and Chad Phillips, a team of friends from Washington, D.C.

Mikey Torres and Chad Phillips met in culinary school. Torres, an executive chef at Gifford's Ice Cream and Candy Company received his AA in Culinary Arts from the Art Institute of Washington in 2007. He has been a server at many restaurants and also has catering experience. Phillips received his Culinary Arts Degree from the Art Institute of Washington in 2008.


- Kelsey Henderson and Vanessa Henderson, a team of sisters from Los Angeles, CA

Sisters Kelsey Henderson and Vanessa Henderson are California natives that enjoy the art of healthy cooking. Kelsey attended the Art Institute of California Culinary School and now is a private macrobiotic chef for Boy Toy, Inc and works as a private chef for a few families. She also apprenticed under Madonna's lead macrobiotic chef for a year before taking over the position altogether. These sisters feel that Kelsey's expertise in healthy cooking coupled with Vanessa's attention to detail and flare for style and décor will give them an edge over their competition.

(Photo credit NBC/Virginia Sherwood)

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