Alex Guarnaschelli Iron Chef America
Alex Guarnaschelli Iron Chef America

Well, I’m here for my semi-annual (or whatever) review/rant about Iron Chef America.

I’m hooked. But that should be no secret or surprise.

I just watched my DVR recording of Iron Chef America and was happily surprised by a couple of changes.

First, it was back to Iron Chef America. Last year’s version after Iron Chef Gauntlet was Iron Chef Showdown, which was more or less Beat Bobby Flay lite. I’m so glad that they’ve gone back to the original format.

Before I get to the stuff that I find annoying/irritating/silly, I’ll go through the things that make me happy.

The Good

Always Alton Brown. I love his “Hi Kids” greeting when you come back from commercial.  That’s always made me chuckle.

Alton Brown. Period. And, yes, I’ve forgiven him for the abortion that was Cutthroat Kitchen.

Alton Brown Iron Chef
Jet Tila Cooking
Jet Tila Cooking

While I still miss Kevin Brauch, I’m happy to see that the roving floor reporter is Jet Tila! Yay! Someone who’s a real chef and clearly knows what the other chefs are doing with the secret ingredient, which, in this episode, was Blue Cheese. Chef Tila’s actual last name has about 150 additional syllables, but this works for now. Jet competed several years ago against Chef Morimoto and lost. That’s okay. Just about everybody loses to Morimoto. At any rate, he speaks cogently and intelligently (i.e., he knows what he’s doing) and is far better than the young woman who the floor reporter on Showdown. She was an ESPN veteran of some sort if I recall correctly. 

“Real food” people are judges, which has been whittled down to two from the original three (sometimes four) of the first iteration of ICA. This episode had Antonia Lofaso and Simon Majumdar as judges. Although Simon doesn’t actually cook, which still makes me raise an eyebrow.

Whatever.

alton and kitten
Alton and kitten

Then, of course, there’s Kitchen Stadium. I realized that except for the fact that Kitchen Stadium has no walls, it bears a certain resemblance to the kitchen here at Casa Wineaux, which has lots of stainless, real wood chopping/cutting boards, and lots of red small appliances, especially my much loved Vitamix and KitchenAid. True, you have to cross your eyes and really expand your imagination, but it can work if you try.

I don’t know about you, but I always pay close attention to what the chefs are doing with the secret ingredient.  In more than one occasion, I’ve taken the recipes of some of the chefs, both Iron and challenger, and tried them out. For instance, Chef Anne Burrell did a saffron pasta when she was sous chef for Iron Chef Batali, and experimented with it. Gorgeous, silky, and delicious!

Chef José Garces (before he was Iron) did a beautiful dessert consisting of squares of melon bruléed with a torch. More deliciousness!

Chef Madison Cowan
Chef Madison Cowan

Chef Madison Cowan did a chicken and kale waffle dish on the battle kale episode which I tried to emulate, and it turned out great! I’m sure his dish was better, but I’m good with that. Ironically, the Iron Chef he defeated was José Garces.

AND NO CULINARY CURVEBALL!! In the history of ICA, that had to be the most idiotic, stupid, brainless, undignified, and ludicrous idea that anyone could have thought of. Stupidity cubed, even ahead of Cutthroat. But barely.

The Bad AND The Ugly

And, naturally, with the good, there has to be some bad.

The “Chairman.” I mean really?!? Why?

View from Living Room
Casa Wineaux

His actual presence is okay, I guess. But, just like the earlier Iron Chef America versions, the “whooshes” drive me batty. Not only that, but he’s replaced Alton at the judges’ table. Why? Do the producers seriously think that people like him more than Alton? Well, they don’t. I don’t! I’d much rather watch and listen to Alton, who’s another person with an actual history of food and who engages with the judges, and who doesn’t have a history of whooshing like the “Chairman.” Am I alone in this? Am I the only one who thinks that the “Chairman” is of as much use as a skin tag?

The "Chairman"
The “Chairman”

So that’s my review for this year’s Iron Chef America. I hope this sticks around (sans “Chairman” and/or his whooshes if at all possible) for a while. While I love the show, there are the few irritants, and I mentioned the one I really dislike. Meanwhile, I’ll be sitting in front of the tv, pencil and notepad in hand (maybe with some popcorn and Chardonnay), and enjoying the amazing ingredients and the chefs’ spectacular skills.

Just, please, can somebody get rid of the whoosh?

 

Except for Casa Wineaux, the photos displayed on this post are from the Food Network through the Creative Commons program. Surely you don’t think that I could take these pics!

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