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Iron Chef America: The Series is an American cooking show based on Fuji Televisionmarker's Iron Chef, and is the second American adaptation of the series, following the failed Iron Chef USA. The show is produced by Food Network, which also carried a dubbed version of the original Iron Chef. Like the original Japanese program, the program is a sort of culinary game show. In each episode, a new challenger chef "battles" one of the resident "Iron Chefs" in a one-hour cooking competition based on a theme ingredient.

The show is presented as a successor to the original Iron Chef, as opposed to being a remake. The Chairman is portrayed by martial artist Mark Dacascos, who is introduced as the nephew of the original Japanese chairman Takeshi Kaga. The commentary is provided solely by Alton Brown, and Kevin Brauch is the floor reporter.

Per the introduction fiction from the Battle of the Masters miniseries (and ignoring story elements from the 2002 Iron Chef Japan Cup Special), Chairman Kaga (the character) has ordered his nephew to continue the tradition of Kitchen Stadium, this time in New York's Chelsea Marketmarker. For the inaugural battle, the elder Chairman dispatched two Iron Chefs: Hiroyuki Sakai and Masaharu Morimoto.

Unlike the original Iron Chef or Iron Chef USA, Alton Brown, rather than the Chairman, is credited as the show's host.

Iron Chefs

On this version of Iron Chef, the Iron Chefs have either been previous Food Network personalities, are current personalities, were part of the original Iron Chef, or earned their position on The Next Iron Chef.


Iron Chef Specialty Win Loss Draw Total Win %1
Mario Batali Italian 19 4 0 23 82.6%
Cat Cora Greek & Mediterranean 15 11 1 27 57.4%
Bobby Flay Southwestern 27 13 2 42 66.7%
Masaharu Morimoto2 Japanese 14 10 1 25 58.0%
Wolfgang Puck California Cuisine 1 0 0 1 100.0%
Michael Symon3 Mediterranean 10 2 1 13 80.8%


 Based on weighted average (0.5 victory for a draw). The win/loss data is based on the performance of the Iron Chef in Iron Chef America: The Series and the Battle of the Masters.

Morimoto's record includes his battle as a competitor in the Battle of the Masters.

Symon's record does not include his loss to Masaharu Morimoto in Battle Asparagus or his victory over John Besh in the finale of the first season of The Next Iron Chef as Symon did not hold the title Iron Chef during either battle.



Wolfgang Puck was an Iron Chef for one battle, during the "Iron Chef America: Battle of the Masters" mini-series. He defeated Iron Chef Morimoto who was the challenger. When the show was picked up to become "Iron Chef America", Puck could not remain an Iron Chef, and was replaced by Japan's Morimoto. Iron Chef Morimoto is erroneously credited as having 66 victories in the original Kitchen Stadium. His actual record was 16-9-1, with one victory coming in overtime.

Morimoto speaks English with a heavy accent and sometimes speaks in Japanese when describing his dishes. Consequently, his voice is at times dubbed by Joe Cipriano. Cipriano, a veteran TV announcer and Los Angeles radio personality, also provided the voice for Hiroyuki Sakai in Battle of the Masters. When dubbing isn't used, subtitles may be provided to help viewers understand what Morimoto is saying.

Attire

The Iron Chefs have always worn some sort of uniform, in the manner of the original show, but one far less flamboyant than their Japanese predecessors. Originally the Iron Chefs wore contemporary denim chef's jackets with solid-color patches and trim. However, the show continued its predecessor's tradition of having the jackets individualized by color-coding them: Batali's jacket trim was red, Cora's pink, Flay's blue, Morimoto's white, and Symon's black. On the left shoulder of each jacket was a flag representing the Chef's country of origin.

During the final episode of the first series of The Next Iron Chef Alton Brown announced that the Iron Chefs would have new jackets beginning in the show's sixth season. Designer and former Iron Chef America judge Mark Ecko designed new jackets for the Iron Chefs, taking inspiration from the winning entry in a Food Network contest. The new Iron Chef jackets made their debut on the 2008 "Thanksgiving Showdown" episode. The jackets are individual to each chef and include features such as short sleeves in Symon's (resembling the black shirts he wears at his restaurant, Lola) and men's kimono styling for Morimoto's. Colors differ by chef: charcoal grey (Flay), black (Symon), light blue (Cora), silver (Morimoto) and white (Batali). "Iron Chef" with the chef's last name underneath it is embroidered in modern script on the left front side of the jacket, in the manner of a traditional chef's coat. The jackets also include a large embroidered Iron Chef patch on the right arm, also bearing the chef's name, and the flag of their home country on the left sleeve.

Format

In the first two seasons, after the challenger chef was introduced, the Chairman announced their Iron Chef opponent. Starting with Season 3, the show returned to the format of its predecessor and had the challenger chefs select the Iron Chef they will battle. In reality, the match-ups are determined well in advance in all three incarnations of the show, which is not to say the challengers had no influence on the selection of their opponent.

A theme ingredient (referred to as the "secret ingredient") is revealed, and the cooking begins. On occasion, the theme ingredient is actually a 'theme meal'; for example, eggs, bacon, potatoes, etc. are revealed and thus the "secret ingredient" is breakfast. Unlike Iron Chef, where chefs had roughly 5 minutes to discuss their strategy before the battle begins, the revealing of the theme ingredient occurs 15 minutes before the start of the battle. However, this segment is not shown on television, and it is a common assumption that the battle starts immediately after the secret ingredient is revealed. This practice was described on an episode of Unwrapped.

The start of the battle is typically announced by the Chairman in the following tagline:

So now America, with an open heart and an empty stomach, I say unto you in the words of my uncle: Allez cuisine!


Allez cuisine! (loosely translated as "Get to the kitchen!" or "Start cooking!") is the phrase that started battles in the original Japanese series (hence the reference to his uncle, Chairman Kaga).

On Iron Chef America, both the challenger and the Iron Chef have 60 minutes to prepare a minimum of five dishes based on a theme ingredient. Just as with the original Iron Chef, the secret ingredient is not truly secret. Both the competitor and the Iron Chef are given a list of three to five ingredients before the battle, of which one will be the secret ingredient.

After the first commercial break, Brown typically asks Kevin Brauch to introduce the judges. Generally, Kevin pays homage to the program's origins by adding, Konban Wa (Japanese for "Good evening") to his introduction. Unlike the original series, none of the judges participate in the running commentary, although Brown returns to the them roughly mid-battle for their comments on the ongoing battle and the secret ingredient. Over the course of the cooking hour, Brown may also provide further information on the theme ingredient, using visual aids as required.

The dishes are tasted by a panel of three judges, two of whom are professional food critics (a contrast to the original Iron Chef, which typically had one professional food critic as a judge). Like the original Iron Chef, each chef can be awarded up to 20 points by each judge; consisting of up to 10 points for taste, up to 5 points for plating (the appearance of their presentation), and up to 5 points for the originality of their dishes. The chef with the higher score is declared the winner. When a battle finishes in a tie it remains as the final result, unlike Iron Chef, where an overtime battle was immediately called with a new theme ingredient; however, if the overtime battle was to also result in a tie, the tie would remain as the final result. (Also in contrast with the original, the final scores are subdivided by category, rather than by individual judge.)

Iron Chef America is also not affiliated with any culinary institution, unlike Iron Chef which was associated with Hattori Nutrition College. Chefs also bring in their own assistants, or sous-chefs. Like Iron Chef, each chef is allowed two sous-chefs. In tag-team or two-on-one battles, both chefs on one side each bring one sous-chef. On the original Iron Chef, early episodes had two chefs without sous-chefs, while later episodes had two chefs and one sous-chef per side. The sous-chefs brought in by the Iron Chefs are as follows:

  • Batali – Anne Burrell and Mark Ladner
  • Cora – Lorilynn Bauer and David Schimmel (other sous-chefs have been employed on occasion)
  • Flay – Flay employs a rotating staff of sous-chefs from his restaurants
  • Morimoto – Ariki Omae and Makoto Okuwa (other sous-chefs have been employed on occasion)
  • Symon – Cory Barrett and Derek Clayton


All of the sous-chefs for both Iron Chef and challenger are informally introduced at some point in the contest, unlike the original Iron Chef. Sous-chefs have occasionally entered into battle against Iron Chefs (including the Iron Chef under whom they worked).

The rules in Iron Chef America are thought to favor the Iron Chef less than the original program, however, some challengers have noted favoritism in the selection of theme ingredients. On Iron Chef the Iron Chef's food was always tasted second, while on Iron Chef America, a coin toss before the show determines which chef's food is tasted first. Chefs also have a tendency to borrow equipment from the opposite side of Kitchen Stadium when the corresponding equipment on their side breaks down (which occurred surprisingly frequently in the first season).

As the tasting and judgment take upwards of 45 minutes to complete (although it is edited down to five to ten minutes per chef in post-production), the chef serving second is allowed to reheat his or her dishes, which was allowed on Iron Chef.

Several of the secrets to how the show is taped were revealed in an episode of Unwrapped entitled "Food Network Unwrapped 2." It was stated that the chefs find out what the secret ingredient is about 15 minutes before the battle begins because the opening sequence is recorded many times. It is only the final taping of this sequence where the words "Allez cuisine!" are said and the battle begins. Moreover, at the end of the one-hour battle, the chefs must still prepare 4 plates of each of their 5 dishes for the judges and the Chairman. This is done during a 45-minute period after the battle ends and before tasting begins. They consider this to be part of the competition, and it is timed, but it is not recorded or shown to the viewers. The plates which the audience sees prepared during the one-hour battle are the plates used to obtain close-up footage of the dish for use in the final episode. Usually, on taping days, two different battles will be taped, one beginning at about 10 a.m. and the second at about 4 p.m. A Food Network crew has about 90 minutes between each show to clean the set and prepare for the second show.

Chefs provide the producers with shopping lists for each of the possible secret ingredients. Consequently, they can surmise what the secret ingredient will be just before it is officially revealed, based on which of their items were purchased.

Holiday battles

ICA will occasionally stage special, holiday themed battles. The first of these was held on November 12, 2006. A special 90-minute episode of Iron Chef America pitted two guest Food Network personalities, Giada De Laurentiis and Rachael Ray, against each other after they each received tips and training from Iron Chefs Bobby Flay and Mario Batali, respectively. While the early part of the episode made it appear as though it would be a head-to-head battle, the Chairman announced just prior to the secret ingredient reveal that it would in fact be a tag-team battle, with each of the women joined by the Iron Chef who trained her. The secret ingredient for the special was cranberries. The expanded timeframe allowed for longer cuts of the competition hour and the tasting segments to be presented, and the show as a whole had a more laid-back feel than regular ICA episodes. Plenty of joking and good-natured ribbing took place on both sides of the kitchen, such as Batali's effort to "bribe" the judges with cranberry bellini cocktails.

A second special holiday episode premiered on Sunday, November 25, 2007. This special, titled Iron Chef America: All Star Holiday Dessert Battle, paired Iron Chef Cat Cora and popular Food Network personality Paula Deen against fellow Food Network chefs Tyler Florence and Robert Irvine, with sugar as the secret ingredient. While this special was the usual 60-minutes in length, the tone was similar to the previous ICA special, with lots of "smack talking" and teasing among the four chefs.

On October 26, 2008 a Halloween battle took place between Iron Chef Michael Symon and former Next Iron Chef competitor Chris Cosentino. The theme ingredient was offal (organ meats, pig trotters, coxcombs, etc.), an ingredient with which each of the chefs is known to cook routinely. Igor and the Monster from the Broadway production of Young Frankenstein also made a special appearance, assisting with the presentation of the secret ingredient.

A 90-minute "Thanksgiving Showdown" premiered on November 16, 2008. The secret ingredients were foods that might have been used at the first Thanksgiving feast: duck, lobster, heritage turkey, venison, leeks and walnuts. This battle marked the first time in ICA history that the American Iron Chefs competed against each other, with the team of Bobby Flay and Michael Symon battling against Cat Cora and Masaharu Morimoto. There were two floor reporters for this special: regular floor reporter Kevin Brauch covered Flay and Symon while ICA judge Ted Allen covered Cora and Morimoto. In addition, Mark Ecko appeared early in the episode to present the new Iron Chef jackets and describe the design process.

First Lady Michelle Obama's White House Kitchen Garden will be featured in a new special episode, to premiere on January 3, 2010. The episode, to be called "The Super Chef Battle", will feature Iron Chef Mario Batali and Chef Emeril Lagasse against Iron Chef Bobby Flay and White House Chef Cristeta Comerford in a battle that will require the chefs to create an American meal, with the produce from the White House garden as the secret ingredient.

Greatest moments

On November 16, 2008, the Food Network preceded its "Thanksgiving Showdown" ICA special with a half-hour retrospective of the 10 best ICA moments. In the program, the Chairman presents each moment, followed by a female voice-over narration describing the challenge the Iron Chefs face, including live fish, big ingredients, time, the ice cream machine and unorthodox cooking methods. The introduction is followed by a clip of each moment interspersed with comments by the Iron Chefs and ICA judges.

Number Title Battle Competitors Moment
1 It's Alive! Cobia Mario Batali v. Jamie Oliver Sous chef Gennaro Contaldo's distraction antics
2 Sugar Smack Sugar Cat Cora/Paula Deen v. Tyler Florence/Robert Irvine Paula Deen's verbal warfare
3 The Bird is the Word Garlic Mario Batali v. Chris Cosentino Chef Cosentino presents squab brains and talons
4 Better Dining Through Science Beets Masaharu Morimoto v. Homaro Cantu In an upset, the molecular gastronomists take the battle
5 Trout in the Machine Trout Bobby Flay v. Hiroyuki Sakai The infamous trout ice cream
6 Edible Art Asparagus Masaharu Morimoto v. Michael Symon Morimoto's "stained glass" sushi
7 I Fought the Clock and the Clock Won Scallops Masaharu Morimoto v. Roberto Donna Donna fails to complete his five dishes
8 The Wheel's on Fire Parmigiano Reggiano Mario Batali v. Andrew Carmellini Batali's Parmesan bowl filled with flaming grappa
9 Smokin' Hot Chiles Masaharu Morimoto v. Tim Love Morimoto struggles with an unfamiliar ingredient: a Jalapeño chile
10 Size Matters Elk Bobby Flay v. Kent and Kevin Rathbun The chefs battle each other and the largest secret ingredient ever


History

Iron Chef America first aired as a special titled Iron Chef America: Battle of the Masters. Unlike Iron Chef USA, Iron Chef America quickly earned legitimacy with the appearance of Iron Chefs Hiroyuki Sakai and Masaharu Morimoto (with Chen Kenichi also originally slated to appear, but absent due to a scheduling conflict). The first Battle of the Masters involved Sakai and Flay, with the theme of trout. There, Sakai had made two dishes of note: one was gift-wrapped to commemorate the opening of Kitchen Stadium America, while the other was trout ice cream, a dish that would be repeatedly recalled and referred to later on when anyone used the ice cream maker. Other battles in Battle of the Masters were Morimoto taking on Batali, Morimoto taking on Wolfgang Puck, and a tag team battle where Morimoto and Flay teamed up against Sakai and Batali. Battle of the Masters was largely successful and a regular series was commissioned.

The regular series is taped in New York, while Battle of the Masters took place in Los Angeles at Los Angeles Center Studios. Because of other interests, Puck declined to appear in the regular series, and Morimoto took his place. Later that season, Cat Cora debuted as an Iron Chef during "Battle Potato", becoming the first female chef to hold the rank.

The second season of Iron Chef America began airing in July 2005. This season saw its first and second ties on the American show: the first aired on July 31, 2005, with both challenger and Iron Chef receiving 45 points. In this case, unlike Iron Chef, there is no overtime, although a rematch was suggested by Alton Brown. The third such tied result occurred in Season Three, when Susur Lee challenged Bobby Flay in Battle Bacon.

Starting November 2006, Australia's SBS, the domestic rights holder to the original Iron Chef program, started airing Iron Chef America: The Battle Of The Masters, replacing the original Japanese incarnation of the program. On December 9, Season 1 of Iron Chef America began airing. The show was scheduled to run until February 17, 2007, but due to viewer feedback, SBS ended broadcast of Iron Chef America three weeks early and resumed showing the original Iron Chef on February 3, 2007.

Production details

Kitchen Stadium

Located at the Chelsea Market in New York City, Iron Chef America's version of Kitchen Stadium has a more modern appearance than the one from Iron Chef. Much of the equipment in the kitchen is top-of-the line; appliances include six burner stove tops, an infrared grill, blast chillers, convection ovens, deep fryers, cutting boards, a plethora of small electrical appliances like blenders and food processors, as well as pantry stations. Both kitchens in Kitchen Stadium are set up with the same appliances, and each pantry station has the same food items including expensive items like saffron. Challengers may also sometimes bring their own equipment to their sections; most notably, postmodern chef Homaro Cantu brought a Class 4 Laser, liquid nitrogen, and an inkjet printer with edible inks and paper for his signature dishes. One of the most infamous appliances in the kitchen is the ice cream machine (dubbed by the commentators as the Ice Cream Machine of Doom), which is often used to create unusual and abstract flavors of ice cream when chefs attempt to make a dessert course with the theme ingredient.

The commentator's station has Alton Brown standing in front of two large monitors providing several camera views of the action. The station is much closer to and on the same level as the cooking stations, allowing Alton Brown to converse with the competitors and ask brief questions. Alton Brown has made frequent comments about Kitchen Stadium being "an orbiting space station" or "an underwater facility."

There is a small section in the back of the stadium reserved for the studio audience, which is mostly composed of guests of the chefs. During the first two seasons, the audience is almost never mentioned or shown on camera unless there is a special guest in the audience. Starting with season 3, the show again takes a cue from its predecessor and gives a little more attention to the audience, particularly when someone close to the challenger or special guests are present. The audience is also now sometimes heard applauding the chefs, although they are ignored by cameras.

Despite Kitchen Stadium America's state-of-the-art appearance, problems arose during the first season. In her battle against Mario Batali, Chef Anita Lo had trouble getting her burners hot enough to cook her food. At one point, one of Lo's assistants took a pot over to Mario Batali's side of the kitchen to use his stove, which Batali happily agreed to.

In the Behind the Scenes: Iron Chef America special, Iron Chef Hiroyuki Sakai voices his distaste for the modern look of the American Kitchen Stadium. Sakai referred to the kitchen as "cold."

The Next Iron Chef

In 2007, a competition was held to determine who among eight chefs would become the new Iron Chef. The show ran for six episodes, and followed the contestants through a series of eight culinary challenges taking place in the United States, France, and Germany. Contestants would be eliminated by a panel of judges at the end of each episode, until the final two chefs returned to the United States to compete in Kitchen Stadium. The final battle featured swordfish as the secret ingredient, and was judged by Iron Chefs Flay, Cora, and Morimoto. Chef Michael Symon was declared the winner of the competition, and subsequently joined Iron Chef America."

In 2009, a second season of the Next Iron Chef pitted ten chefs against one another for the title of Iron Chef. This season ran for eight episodes, during which the contestants competed in culinary challenges held in the United States and Japan. Contestants were eliminated by a panel of judges at the end of each episode until the finale, in which chefs Jehangir Mehta and Jose Garces returned to the United States to compete in Kitchen Stadium. The final battle featured various racks and ribs (pork, buffalo, and beef) as the secret ingredient, and was judged by the panel along with Iron Chefs Flay, Morimoto, and Symon. Chef Jose Garces was declared the winner of the competition, and will join Iron Chef America as its newest Iron Chef. Garces will debut as an Iron Chef on January 17, 2010, when he squares off against Seattle chef Rachel Yang.

Video game



An Iron Chef America video game, titled Iron Chef America: Supreme Cuisine, was developed for the Wii and Nintendo DS by Black Lantern Studios. Both versions were released on November 6, 2008, having been delayed from the original release date of September 23, 2008.

The game features "a series of fast-paced and intense culinary challenges" and includes the voice acting and likeness of The Chairman (Mark Dacascos), commentator Alton Brown and Iron Chefs Mario Batali, Masaharu Morimoto and Cat Cora, who players can either play or compete against.

See also



References

External links




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