Marco Pierre White might come off as the Hannibal Lecter of reality food TV when The Chopping Block premieres at 8 p.m. tonight on NBC, but he was a softie for the Today crew this morning. (That may have been simply to offset his considerable height advantage.) Al Roker made White fidget by referring to him as “the original bad-boy chef,” but he got soulful when Meredith Vieira asked why anyone would want the show’s grand prize — their own restaurant. “Cooking, restaurants, it shouldn’t be a job; it’s a way of life.” White hinted that contestants cried during the show, but not because he made them: “I never told anyone to cry! They did it themselves.” The host is making the publicity rounds elsewhere this week; in an interview with Time, he stops talking about Chopping Block long enough to reveal that his favorite restaurants in New York are run by Mario Batali. Take note, contestants, and watch the gentle giant on Today after the jump.