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American Iron Chef...

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Obviously UPN made a complete hash of their attempt to import the Iron Chef concept to this country, but I think it could work if done well. I thought the cooking done on the abortive American Iron Chef was actually more interesting than much of what was done on the original. What are your thoughts on the possiblity of an American version?


Most women don't seem to know how much flour to use so it gets so thick you have to chop it off the plate with a knife and it tastes like wallpaper paste....Just why cream sauce is bitched up so often is an all-time mytery to me, because it's so easy to make and can be used as the basis for such a variety of really delicious food.

- Victor Bergeron, Trader Vic's Book of Food & Drink, 1946

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I think as long as William Shatner's hands are kept very far away from the entire process, then I'd watch it like I watch the originals, which is almost religously. I thought the American version would have been great, but Captain Kirk ruined it for me.

Just my feeling.

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When was it on?


John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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I would love to watch an American version of the show. I even remember flipping through the channels when it used to be on UPN (for I think two episodes, but I don't have a clue). On other boards that I go on, I heard that the attempt at an American show has failed for numerous reasons...most of which I will not say at this time due to my reasons. Anyway, if they want to show something like this, I'd say, "Go for it!"


I think silver suits me so...

...but red is also for me!

Iron Chef Morimoto all the way!

From me, a fan of Iron Chef.

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They did a pilot episode about 2 years ago. I think one or two more were filmed but I'm not sure they were ever shown, since the response to the first one was so poor.

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more importantly, was it on for more than one episode?

if so, i think i saw it, but after about 2 minutes, i had to change the channel.


Herb aka "herbacidal"

Tom is not my friend.

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Obviously UPN made a complete hash of their attempt to import the Iron Chef concept to this country, but I think it could work if done well.  I thought the cooking done on the abortive American Iron Chef was actually more interesting than much of what was done on the original.  What are your thoughts on the possiblity of an American version?

Just to insert this before I answer this question...I was fired from Food Network on October 11 2000. My comments reflect only my experience up until that time. I have no current knowledge of current Food Network plans or business strategy...

Now that that is out of the way...

I am not sure why you would want to do another Iron Chef to be honest. I think that the original is lightning in a bottle. One of the many reasons that the UPN version didn't work, in my opinion, is just for that reason. The original is just unduplicatable.

Some of the special features are the sense of pride that the chefs have in their work or cause. The hyperstylized format is tough to pull off because when Americans try the same thing it comes off as silly not as dead serious...which is why we love it.

There are more obstacles too, good reporting even from experts is hard to do on the fly or even taped. Anthony Dias Blue and Van Earl Right on the UPN Version struggled to report accurately what was happening.

Also I don't think that food is in the consciousness of America in the same way that it is in Japan. There is a Japanese cuisine that the whole society recognizes and is familiar with. While American love food and cooking there is not the same culinary unity that everyone has.

Combine that with plays on cultural norms like seniority and respect and cultural cues that are at least 50 years old emerging from manga novels...Iron Chef is really unique.

If what you are interested is to see great chefs compete against each other and see and understand their food...that is possible but I am not sure how exciting it could be unless a huge new format was created that is compelling itself. Iron Chef is not just about the food...there is a larger story arc that ties into personalities and a soap opera element. These sorts of things make it unique and make it work so elegantly.

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If what you are interested is to see great chefs compete against each other and see and understand their food...that is possible but I am not sure how exciting it could be unless a huge new format was created that is compelling itself. Iron Chef is not just about the food...there is a larger story arc that ties into personalities and a soap opera element. These sorts of things make it unique and make it work so elegantly.

This statement intrigues me. If you toss aside the baggage of Iron Chef, is a camp-less competition really feasible as a TV show? There are serious cooking competitions going on all of the time, but nobody has ever really suggested how to make watchable TV out of them. With respect to the competitors, its like watching a freaking Dog Show.


Jon Lurie, aka "jhlurie"

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If what you are interested is to see great chefs compete against each other and see and understand their food...that is possible but I am not sure how exciting it could be unless a huge new format was created that is compelling itself. Iron Chef is not just about the food...there is a larger story arc that ties into personalities and a soap opera element. These sorts of things make it unique and make it work so elegantly.

The more I think about it, the more I think you're right that what I would love to see is some type of competitive cooking format featuring top chefs in the US. It probably was a mistake for UPN to try to import all the camp of the original, but choosing Shatner for the Chairman (impossible to suspend your disbelief that he is anyone other than Capt Kirk) and adopting the WWF style crowd interaction that was almost never present on the original didn't help however.

To me at least, the idea of talented chefs being presented with a limited number of ingredients and a limited timeframe, competing to see who can devise the best dishes is very compelling. I think having some equivalent of the Iron Chefs, that is 'the home team', is better than just a randomly changing pair of chefs. Maybe even better would be a single-elimination tournament format to determine who's the best....


Most women don't seem to know how much flour to use so it gets so thick you have to chop it off the plate with a knife and it tastes like wallpaper paste....Just why cream sauce is bitched up so often is an all-time mytery to me, because it's so easy to make and can be used as the basis for such a variety of really delicious food.

- Victor Bergeron, Trader Vic's Book of Food & Drink, 1946

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Since no one else has mentioned it, I guess I will, for what it's worth.

A few months ago, The Today Show ran its own (brief) version of Iron Chef out on Rockefeller Center Plaza. The "combatants" were Morimoto and Al Roker (as Iron Chef Barbeque). Al's assistant was a woman who does the food styling for the show's cooking segments.

The ingredient was sausage. Katie Couric, Matt Lauer (I think he was on that day), and Ann Curry were judges. And Katie played the ingenue, giggles and all. ("If you watch the show at all, you know why I'm giggling.")

It was amusing, if nothing else.

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