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Iron Chef USA was the first Americanmarker adaptation of the Japanesemarker television series Iron Chef, appearing on the UPN television network in 2001. Two pilot episodes were aired, the "Las Vegas Showdown" and the "Holiday Battle", neither to critical acclaim. It would not be until 2004 when another adaptation of Iron Chef, titled Iron Chef America, would air.

Like the original Japanese series, the show featured an eccentric chairman, played by William Shatner, who creates his own "Gourmet Academy" with four elite chefs who take on challengers in a specially-constructed "Kitchen Arena" ("Kitchen Stadium" in the original). However, unlike the original, and the later Iron Chef America adaptation, Kitchen Arena was set in an auditorium in the MGM Grand Hotelmarker in Las Vegasmarker and not on a sound stage.

Fans of the series, and critics at large, point to many aspects of the show for the reason why the series failed. Among the most notable reasons was the audience factor: the original Iron Chef (and Iron Chef America) had only minimal guest and VIP seating, while Iron Chef USA was shown in front of a larger audience. The audience also tended to be louder and rowdier, in sharp contrast to the relatively quiet audiences of Iron Chef. Another sharp point of criticism was directed at the commentators, who often showed little in terms of their knowledge of food (with lines such as "What? It's the sperm? We eat that?" in reference to sea urchin roe, to "What's that tool called he's using to cut the ravioli?","That would be a ravioli cutter"; and "it's a sauteed HoHo", "He's got a flour thing going" and "it looks like he enjoys cooking with booze")[145970]. However, critics saw Shatner's portrayal of the chairman in Iron Chef USA as a redeeming quality, as his performance paid homage to Takeshi Kaga and his antics on Iron Chef.

Format

Like the original Iron Chef, chefs are given 60 minutes and a theme ingredient (called a "secret" ingredient) to create their culinary creations. Unlike the original, however, chefs brought in their own assistants, and were required to prepare five dishes. The dishes were judged by four celebrity judges (none of whom are food experts or food critics), and the chef with the higher rating was declared the winner. Curiously, the scoring system used was different from the one used on Iron Chef and later on Iron Chef America.

Chefs and crew

In addition to Shatner as the chairman of Gourmet Academy USA, Michael Burger and Anthony Dias Blue played the roles of play-by-play and color commentator, with Sissy Biggers serving as the floor reporter. The four Iron Chefs are[145971], presented from left-to-right when they are first introduced:



Of the four Iron Chefs, only Stratta and English saw action on Iron Chef USA, both bringing victories to the Iron Chefs. English, Kerry Simon and Marcus Samuelsson (both challengers) later competed on Iron Chef America, but there has been absolutely no mention made of their tenure on Iron Chef USA.

  • Larry Thompson – Executive Producer


Episodes

Only two pilot episodes of Iron Chef USA were produced. [145972]

Episode one titled "Holiday Showdown" [145973]

Episode two titled "Showdown in Las Vegas" featured four different guest judges from the first episode as well as a new challenging chef [145975]


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