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Iron Chef America

by Michael Chu
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One of the shows that I record on my ReplayTV DVR is Iron Chef America (along with a bunch of Food Network and PBS cooking shows and Family Guy).

I was hooked on the show when, in the first season, I watched celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck in action. My only exposure to Wolfgang Puck before this was a lot of advertising / marketing hype (I grew up in Los Angeles), television commercials for his restaurants, and of course his soup can labels. In general, I don't think too much of over publicized chef's because they have probably become more legend & myth than culinary master... until Iron Chef America. I don't remember who won or the secret ingredient, I just remember that Wolfgang can really use his knives. He was fast and efficient -- not much showmanship or flamboyancy, but you could see the experience and mastery in action.

I've been watching the show ever since (even though Chef Puck has not participated in any other matches).

In the interest of full disclosure, I was offered money to post a link to Iron Chef's new commercials, and I agreed for two reasons. First, I actually like the show, and, second, they offered me money. Am I selling out? I guess you can look at it that way, but I'm being selective. I won't accept money to advertise kitchen gear since I review equipment and want to make sure everyone feels that my opinions aren't being altered because I'm acting as a spokesperson. I think taking money from merchants (such as amazon.com) or television shows (like Iron Chef) and not in conflict with the impartiality of this website.

Anyway, to watch four humorous Iron Chef commercials, click on the link below.


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Written by Michael Chu
Published on July 11, 2005 at 06:55 PM
33 comments on Iron Chef America:(Post a comment)

On July 12, 2005 at 07:04 PM, snekse said...
Subject: Taking Bribes
Right on for you! There is no reason you shouldn't be able to make a little "dough" Skin_Colorz_PDT_37 on the side of this gig. Heck, even endorsing a product AFTER you review it is acceptable to some extent.

I agree, ICA is a great show. I liked the original, but this one appeals to me a little more for obvious reasons. I like being able to see challengers that I recognize and know about. The fact that I can go to a challengers restaurant to eat is added bonus. I almost ate at one of Rick Bayless' restaurants when I visited Chicago, but time just didn't permit it.

I think they do a great job of picking ingredients and pairing challengers to the appropriate Iron Chef. It also seems like the judging has been getting better.

I do think that Cat Cora is out of place however. She just doesn't have the pedigree that the other Iron Chef's have. Everyone else is an Executive Chef and Owner. The problem is I think they want people who have had TV time. Need some suggestions FoodTV? How about Judy Rogers, Alice Waters, Lucia Watson, Melissa Perello, Traci Des Jardins, Ana Sortun - just to name a few.


On July 13, 2005 at 12:24 AM, Sunburn (guest) said...
Subject: It's not selling out...
...it's cashing in. I enjoy the show as well, and I'm enjoying the ads you link, too.


On July 13, 2005 at 12:24 AM, kd (guest) said...
Subject: "Interesting"
EXCELLENT!

and interesting.

k


On July 13, 2005 at 01:27 AM, JKew said...
Subject: Not as good as Iron Chef
I'll go against the flow: I don't think Iron Chef America is a patch on the original Japanese Iron Chef. It looses all the quirkiness and all the theatrics.

It starts too quickly: ICA gets from the titles to the secret ingredient in under two minutes. Where's the buildup? Where's the "if memory serves me well" introduction? The look-at-my-glorious-Kitchen-Stadium sequence? It's all a bit soulless.

And Kevin Brasch is a waste of time: very little to do and very little personality to do it with. His big moment every week is recounting the scoring rules; do we care? And Alton Brown usually recaps the rules himself minutes later...

(Although I would like to see Alton Brown as a contestant. I'd quite like to see if Rachael "30 Minute Meals" can giggle her way through five courses in 60 minutes. And for a real laugh, I'd like to see the truly awful Sandra "Semi-Homemade" Lee take on Kitchen Stadium. If you post more on food TV -- and please do, it'd be interesting to hear what else you watch -- give her show a go: it's so bad it's good.)


On July 13, 2005 at 04:30 AM, Michael Chu said...
Subject: Re: Not as good as Iron Chef
JKew wrote:
And Kevin Brasch is a waste of time: very little to do and very little personality to do it with. His big moment every week is recounting the scoring rules; do we care? And Alton Brown usually recaps the rules himself minutes later...

I completely agree there. Tina and I often wonder why he's on the show. It doesn't make sense since Alton is practically on the stadium floor -- why do you need a floor commentator if your main one is right there? Often, Alton just asks the contestents themselves the questions that Kevin should be asking. Also, more often than not Kevin is wrong or clueless about what he reports on and Alton has to correct him...

JKew wrote:
And for a real laugh, I'd like to see the truly awful Sandra "Semi-Homemade" Lee take on Kitchen Stadium. If you post more on food TV -- and please do, it'd be interesting to hear what else you watch -- give her show a go: it's so bad it's good.)

I haven't seen her show before, but I just asked Tina and she's says it's not a cooking show... apparently Sandra takes store bought foods and dresses them up for parties - Martha Stewart style cooking? I programmed my replayTV to catch the next couple episodes so I can take a look.


On July 13, 2005 at 12:00 PM, snekse said...
Subject: Re: Not as good as Iron Chef
JKew wrote:
I'd quite like to see if Rachael "30 Minute Meals" can giggle her way through five courses in 60 minutes. And for a real laugh, I'd like to see the truly awful Sandra "Semi-Homemade" Lee take on Kitchen Stadium. If you post more on food TV -- and please do, it'd be interesting to hear what else you watch -- give her show a go: it's so bad it's good.)


This would be sweet! It would be interesting to see health nut cooks on as well. The Calorie Commando vs. Iron Chef Puck (brought out of retirement). Low Carb & Lovin It's George Stella vs. The King of Pasta Mario Batali. Let's see how Cooking Thin's Kathleen Daelemans handle today's secret ingredient - foie gras!

Anthony Bourdain would be an interesting contestant as well. I want to see him dropping F-Bombs everywhere :-)


On July 15, 2005 at 01:05 AM, eternal (guest) said...
Subject: ICA
I think ICA is a great show. Yes, it loses a lot of the quirkyness of the original, but I think that's OK. I don't belive they could've reproduced that so I'm glad they didn't try. I like them both on their own grounds.

But I do wish there was more buildup. This seems to be a problem with all of the "reality" food network shows. If you saw the "Next Food Network Star" series you know what I mean. There was 0 drama or build up. It was always over as fast as it started. YOu never got to know much about the contestants.


On July 15, 2005 at 04:36 AM, cynicalb said...
I also like both ICA and IC. Their creative approach to cooking has elements that I can even pick up on.

I agree with the previous post - Anthony Bourdain would be outstanding. However, if they got him on there, they would have to pair him up against Emeril - sort of like a Cooking Celebrity Death Match. And my money would be on Tony to squash Emeril like a bug. Both figuratively and literally.


On July 15, 2005 at 02:14 PM, an anonymous reader said...
Subject: ICA
The Iron Chefs from the original series were chosen based upon skill and reputation while the 'iron' chefs in this latest incarnation were chosen based upon celebrity appeal and generally pleasing different audience demographics.

I mean, Iron Chef Bobby Flay? C'mon. The guy has two modes: Grill and Corn. When the switch gets stuck half way between, he grills corn.

I also have serious suspicious that the outcome is rigged. The reactions of the tasters and the votes often don't agree (often this effect is so extreme that it leaves me baffled).

ICA also lacks the same reverence for the ingredients and lacks the ability of the original show to instill some appreciation for the place of the ingredient in a cultural and culinary perspective.

Besides, the original was just much more fun and didnít take itself so painfully seriously.

BTW: I really like Kevin Brasch. That guy gets the best jobsÖ Thirsty traveler indeed.


On July 15, 2005 at 02:31 PM, snekse said...
Subject: Re: ICA
Anonymous wrote:
I also have serious suspicious that the outcome is rigged. The reactions of the tasters and the votes often don't agree (often this effect is so extreme that it leaves me baffled).

Interesting. I usually feel this way more towards the original.


On July 16, 2005 at 01:44 PM, Aileen said...
I have only watched several ICA episodes. There seems to be a lot of repeats--did they only shoot several episodes and just repeat them a lot?

As a fan of IC, it is hard to watch the more recent American versions. That sad one with William Shatner was, thankfully, very short-lived. As a Star Trek fan, Captain Kirk belongs at the con of the Enterprise, not in Las Vegas overseeing Kitchen Stadium!

The current ICA has not really caught my interest. I agree that Bobby Flay is not the best choice to be considered an Iron Chef. I do enjoy watching Mario Batali and of course, Masaharu Morimoto.

Spare me--Rachael Ray? Who did she know/is related to that she has so much exposure on the Food Network? And Kevin Brasch brings nothing to the show.

Okay, enough ranting about ICA, which is not as much fun to watch as IC!


On July 19, 2005 at 02:48 PM, an anonymous reader said...
Quote:
Interesting. I usually feel this way more towards the original.


Nahh, that's typical japanese to flatter the loser with BS while critising the winner with specifics. "oh i like it teeheehee" vs "the flavor of the eel ass could be more pronounced."


On July 19, 2005 at 04:40 PM, elliott_mcclelland said...
Subject: Re: ICA
Anonymous wrote:
I mean, Iron Chef Bobby Flay? C'mon. The guy has two modes: Grill and Corn. When the switch gets stuck half way between, he grills corn.
Skin_Colorz_PDT_04

How true!

Who else loved watching the great Ming Tsai soundly whip the seriously overrated Bobby Flay? Ming Tsai should really be an Iron Chef. Iíve never seen another chef operate as smoothly or as efficiently on Iron Chef America or even on the original Iron Chef. He was like a machine on the floor of Kitchen Stadium. He was constantly asking Alton for the time, anticipating Altonís questions and even offering more information than Alton was seeking.

I think one of the biggest problems with ICA is that Alton is the lone commentator. Donít get me wrong, I love Alton Brown and consider Good Eats culinary law. However, they should have modeled the show after the original, in that Kenji Fukui was the announcer, and Dr. Yukio Hattori was the expert commentator. I think the show would be more enjoyable if there were a talented TV personality to work with Alton. This is the same reason that sports casters always work in teams of 2 or three. The interplay between the individuals makes for better TV.


On July 20, 2005 at 02:25 PM, an anonymous reader said...
I watched Cat Cora's first show. The guest chef clearly outperformed her, but she won anyway. I doubt that there are Big Stakes at work, but I didn't like it. Made her look worse. And Rick Bayless lost, which I just didn't at all buy--the knowledge of and joy in he displayed about Mexican cuisine when he introduced his dishes was wonderful.

The original Iron Chef, with the creepy Japanese Elvis Impersonator host, the English voice-over that reminded one of "Mothra," and the fluffy Japanese starlets who guest-judged...well, that was infotainment, people.

I'd really like to see Giada De Laurentiis as a regular on Iron Chef. Hell, she doesn't even have to cook anything.


On July 20, 2005 at 03:46 PM, an anonymous reader said...
I have to agree... The American version is more about competition while the Japanese version portrays more of an epic struggle. That's why some really nice touches from the Japanese version were lost. For example, I like how the iron chefs ascend into the original kitchen stadium. In addition, at the beginning of every episode they have the announcer say something like "every battle, reputations are on the line." And I like how they have a couple minutes to dedicate to the chef.

My other HUGE problem with the American version is that the sous chefs do so much. On the Japanese version, it's all about how much the contestants can do well. Mario Batali normally has Ann prepare one or two of his courses from start to finish with no personal involvement.

Another problem I have is this... In the Japanese version, contestants would often mix the theme ingredient into a dish that they know which is a creative and bold approach that, however, often masks the ingredient. When this is attempted on the American version, people complain that they can't taste the theme ingredient when the chef is just being subtle. It's frustrating.

I would LOVE to see Anthony Bourdain make an appearance.

BTW, if you don't think that Bobby Flay is qualified you've been watching too much Food Network. He's the owner of two high end restaurants (Bolo and Bar Americain) in NYC and another in Las Vegas.


On July 22, 2005 at 04:57 AM, Utenzi (guest) said...
Subject: ICA versus Iron Chef
I think Iron Chef makes it as campy entertainment. I don't really see it as a cooking show. It's essentially a send-up of the old martial arts movies. Cute, but the appeal only lasts so long.

I think that ICA is more in line with the shows that Food Network programs. It's far more educational than IC and the food they make is more likely to be found here in the USA. As for either show being a real competition.. please! That's not the point--it's entertainment.

And congratulations on the commercial gig. You have a GREAT website here and you deserve a lot of recognition.


On July 30, 2005 at 10:15 AM, AWNB95 (guest) said...
Subject: ICA and IC
The one thing I would like to see ICA do is let the chalanger pick the iron chef. I liked it on IC when some chalanger came in with a vendeta to take down one paticular iron chef. I don't think that wil ever happen on ICA, but I'd like to see someone chalange blasting Bobby Flay for his style of cooking.


On August 01, 2005 at 02:34 AM, butterlite (guest) said...
Subject: iron chef
maybe we could figure out how engineers iron chef......do an ad for the show....adam perry lang came close to using engineering or at least carpentry techniques last week during "battle chicken"


On August 01, 2005 at 02:37 AM, butterlite (guest) said...
Subject: Re: ICA
Anonymous wrote:
The Iron Chefs from the original series were chosen based upon skill and reputation while the 'iron' chefs in this latest incarnation were chosen based upon celebrity appeal and generally pleasing different audience demographics.

I mean, Iron Chef Bobby Flay? C'mon. The guy has two modes: Grill and Corn. When the switch gets stuck half way between, he grills corn.


bobby flay actually beat morimoto on the old iron chef not once but twice. he offended the japanese by dancing on the sterile counters....


On August 01, 2005 at 02:40 AM, butterlite (guest) said...
Subject: ic
[.

The original Iron Chef, with the creepy Japanese Elvis Impersonator host,
Elvis????????????? thought he was impersonating Liberace...or Sir Elton


On August 01, 2005 at 02:54 PM, snekse said...
Subject: Re: ICA
butterlite wrote:

bobby flay actually beat morimoto on the old iron chef not once but twice. he offended the japanese by dancing on the sterile counters....

My wife pointed out the fact that Morimoto's reaction to that was kind of ironic since you constantly see Morimoto sticking his finger in dish to taste them and then doing it again moments later without washing his hands. I wonder how Alton feels about that since he's always harping on having multiple spoon around for tasting without spreading germs.


On August 01, 2005 at 06:58 PM, an anonymous reader said...
Subject: Rachael Ray vs Giada De Laurentiis
One word: pudding!


On August 31, 2005 at 03:33 AM, fucnut (guest) said...
Subject: actually. . .
actually, morimoto beat flay twice in the original IC. Just wanted to let you know. . .


On September 01, 2005 at 02:10 AM, an anonymous reader said...
I totally agree with those who suggested Anthony Bourdain as a challenger on ICA. I love his books and TV shows, but I can't say I've ever seen him cook; I think that would be a treat.

Alton Brown would be a fun challenger and might allow an element of original IC style dramatics when the chairman "surprises" AB by drafting him into the competition without warning (wink wink). Who would replace AB at the annoucer's desk ?

Sandra Lee. ROFL. Well, maybe, but the secret ingredient would have to be canned Cream of Mushroom soup or ketchup - something along those lines - in order to level the playing field. "Battle Swanson Frozen Dinners" perhaps.

Other names that cross my mind for various reasons: Chris Kimball of Cook's Illustrated (I don't watch the network morning shows and so have never seen him cook anything), Alan Harding of Cookin' in Brooklyn (his slightly disheveled and awkward manner appeals to the engineer in me), Sarah Moulton. and our own Michael Chu.

Of course, my dream challenger will always be the woman who started it all: Julia Child - circa mid-70's, of course, complete with harvest gold and avocado cookware and set.


On September 26, 2005 at 09:15 PM, an anonymous reader said...
Subject: flay...
"BTW, if you don't think that Bobby Flay is qualified you've been watching too much Food Network. He's the owner of two high end restaurants (Bolo and Bar Americain) in NYC and another in Las Vegas."

u 4got his flagshikp restaurant Mesa Grill in NYC also Bolo isnt extremely high end when you consider other NYC places (Nobu, Babbo, etc just to name a few Iron Chef owned/operated places)....and being that ive been to Bolo and Mesa, i can tell u firsthand that his style is over rated. My opinions are the same for emeril. While i've never visited any of his main restaurants in New Orleans, his show is all about flashy motions and big personality and not so much food preperation, food science, food history, or food background


On September 30, 2005 at 02:52 AM, qusan (guest) said...
Subject: Iron Chef America
I cannot say I am all that into Iron Chef America. I LOVED the original Iron Chef and was in awe of Chef Sakai while having a huge crush on Masaharu Morimoto. Perhaps it is because I don't know Japanese chefs but the American Iron Chef's aren't always as well known as their competition.

I've seen many of the challengers in Gourmet, Bon Apetite or on other cooking shows and, sorry, I don't see how you can pit Todd English or Rick Bayless against an Iron Chef and think that they aren't equally matched. It then becomes a popularity contest.

As much as I watch the Food Network, I cannot imagine anything Mario can cook (and I love watching him and use his tips) that could taste as good as the Beef Carpaccio I've had at Olives (Todd English's place) in Vegas.

I thought that Iron Chef implied that a lesser known challenger wanted to try to beat a REAL chef. Iron Chef America seems to be pitting all the popular chef's against one another.


On October 03, 2005 at 12:08 AM, jb (guest) said...
Subject: Re: Not as good as Iron Chef
JKew wrote:
And for a real laugh, I'd like to see the truly awful Sandra "Semi-Homemade" Lee take on Kitchen Stadium. If you post more on food TV -- and please do, it'd be interesting to hear what else you watch -- give her show a go: it's so bad it's good.)

Quote:
I haven't seen her show before, but I just asked Tina and she's says it's not a cooking show... apparently Sandra takes store bought foods and dresses them up for parties - Martha Stewart style cooking? I programmed my replayTV to catch the next couple episodes so I can take a look.


I know this is an old thread, but I'm new to the site. :)

My ex was a very patient woman when it came to cooking. She helped transform my kitchen aptitude level from pitiful ramen and box mac'n'cheese to braised pork ribs with garlic and ginger, omelettes, and oh-my-god-eight-eggs pound cake. She never criticized or laughed.

The road was long and arduous. She never got angry with me, but when Semi-Homemade made "mini ham sandwiches" by squishing prosciutto between two slices of Wonder bread, she started throwing things at the television.

Oh, and as far as ICA guests go, I'd put Anthony Bourdain, alternating cooking and shots ("the garlic goes into the pan to sautee - and there goes another shot of Jack Daniels!"), up against anyone. An. Ee. One.

And Giada... oh my goodness. Just show up, honey. Park cars outside, chop the garlic, preheat the ovens... anything. Anything at all.

John


On March 11, 2006 at 08:40 PM, Kool Aid Man (guest) said...
Subject: Flay and Morimoto
Actually both of the above posters are wrong about the whole Flay/Morimoto thing.

Morimoto beat Flay in their first battle in Japan, and Flay beat Morimoto in their second in New York.

Great show, and congrats on making some bling for sharing it.


On March 13, 2006 at 08:53 AM, GaryProtein said...
Subject: Re: Not as good as Iron Chef
snekse wrote:
JKew wrote:
I'd quite like to see if Rachael "30 Minute Meals" can giggle her way through five courses in 60 minutes. And for a real laugh, I'd like to see the truly awful Sandra "Semi-Homemade" Lee take on Kitchen Stadium. If you post more on food TV -- and please do, it'd be interesting to hear what else you watch -- give her show a go: it's so bad it's good.)


I think you guys need to be fair with Rachael and Sandra. First of all, they cook alone, not with a sous chef and assistants, three ovens, a ten burner stove and various other pieces of equipment. Second, they are serious about instructing homemakers how to make their meals more interesting and appealing to their families while doing all the other motherly duties. (and I do not mean this in a derogatory, sexist way) They do not purport to be trained culinary experts, but they are good at what they do. I do not think for a minute that they compare or think that THEY think they compare with those on Iron Chef. Also consider that Iron Chef has all the groceries the chefs desire at their disposal, unbelievable cooking equipment, and that the chefs have a VERY good idea of what they are going to make for the five courses, despite their supposedly not knowing the "secret ingredient" until the contest begins. They come into Kitchen Stadium knowing what they are going to cook because they have selected something that will go well with the "secret ingredient" regardless of what is is because they are all well trained and know what they are doing.

Consider this: Cooking with Rachael and Sandra is like Martha Stewart showing the viewers to stain a wooden table, while Cooking with Iron Chef is like Jesse James and Monster Garage showing the viewers how to build a uniquely outrageous complex vehicle from scratch. Both are necessary and good for what they are trying to accomplish, but they clearly are not in the same league, nor do I think they purport to be. Rachael, Sandra and Martha show everyday people what they can do and Iron Chef and Jesse James show you what well trained experts can do, and from a practical standpoint of day to day life, and despite my admiration of the training and expertise of the Iron Chefs, I think Rachael and Sandra have more to offer in keeping family meals from being too mundane.

I, as well as one of the previous writers stated, think the show Iron Chef may be rigged.


On May 29, 2006 at 07:43 AM, allish said...
The ICA ingredients are known to the chefs prior to the show: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/8717337/


On November 13, 2006 at 06:11 AM, kylie1979 (guest) said...
Subject: Haters!
I have read some of these comments on this page about the battle today on ICA. A lot of them have extremely negative comments about Rachael Ray. Unless any of you have had the courage to be on t.v., and especially a show like Iron Chef, you are just plain jealous. Not only that, but you are a bunch of self righteous, snotty, and arrogant SOBs. Just because she hasn't had formal training, that means that her cuisine isn't tasty? I know plenty of people that didn't go to culinary school, and their cooking tastes better than any of that which I've ever had before! So why don't you just shut up and give people the credit to which they are due? The world would be so much nicer without the awful unjust criticisms that you stuck up snots have to give.


On November 13, 2006 at 08:03 AM, Michael Chu said...
Subject: Re: Haters!
kylie1979 wrote:
I have read some of these comments on this page about the battle today on ICA.

Given that the last comment made to this article was six months ago, I think those comments were not made about this particular episode of Iron Chef America (which I didn't know about until I read your post - thanks! It's recording now). So, how did she do? Did Rachael Ray perform well enough to make the other comments eat their words?

Earlier this year, Food Network ran a series of shows revealing the behind-the-scenes of several of their shows including Rachael's Thirty Minute Meals, Giada's Everyday Italian, and Emeril Live! After watching the shows, I found myself most impressed with Giada de Laurentiis who essentially does her show with only one helper, and performs the whole thing twice (once for the wide shots and once for the close ups - always wondered how they got the camera angles that they have) resulting in a grueling 18 hour day. Rachael had a larger staff and seemed like a bit of a clutz - which is all the more impressive that she can consistently pull off a thirty minute show where she talks the whole time, juggles all those ingredients (she carries them all at the same time to keep the time spent down), and cooks something that looks decent for a home prepared meal. Not my kind of cooking show (I'm more of a sucker for America's Test Kitchen), but she really does manage to pull it off consistently. Emeril's show on the other hand seems like a ridiculous production - over 200 staff and crew members prepare for two days prior to the one hour shoot and another half day after wrapping. I used to really dislike his show because he's not too clear on how to prepare his recipes - it's more entertainment. Then when I considered just how difficult it is to put on an hour cooking show, let alone doing it live and unedited, I realized it's quite a feat. I'm a lot more forgiving of his "uhmms" and often forgetfulness especially since I don't know if any chef is capable of doing better on a live show...

Anyway, looking forward to watching the Flay/de Laurentiis vs. Batali/Ray match later this week when I find some time.


On November 14, 2006 at 06:19 AM, GaryProtein said...
Well, I think it was 53 to 46, a substantial win for Rachael Ray and Mario Batali. At the judgement, Giada looked disappointed but gracious, Bobby Flay was not really seen much by the camera and Rachael looked surprised. During the show Rachael seemed to be more like a sous chef than an equal partner, while Giada looked more like she was holding her own. The Kitchen Stadium style of cooking was more of what Giada does on a daily basis than does Rachael. Rachael did say she was a cook and not a chef. Anyway, it was a good show on cranberries. I recorded all but the first few minutes. In actual practice, there are two things I don't like about Rachael, she talks with her hands too much, and the only adjective she knows is "awesome." I think she does a very good job on her 30 minutes meals show because at the start, she tells you what will be accomplished in 30 minutes, and then she does it.

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