Coaxial

A Look At IRON CHEF USA

Published at: July 2, 2001, 3:33 a.m. CST by staff

El Cosmico here, and I've been wondering myself, how can a bunch of kitanai gaikokujin call themselves tetsujin? How am I to enjoy an IRON CHEF show without wacky dubbing?

As all sensible folk know, Japan is the only divine nation on the earth, and as such, the true and proper home of kitchen stadium. Not content to peer across the vast Pacific Ocean, we must pluck what ideas we can from them. After all, I think we're all a bit sore over their taking the whole transistor-radio idea and running with it while baka na beikoku ni wa we were all twiddling our thumbs and asking ourselves...so, how is that really much better than a vacuum tube?

Now, that's all behind us...or is it? A recent poll in Japan Today indicated that roughly half of the Japanese people, thought it was quite likely that the United States would eventually invade Japan. It hadn't occurred to me that we were preparing for such, but then, how would I know if we were? Could we possibly defeat them, though? I hear they have many well-trained Psyduck and Squirtle...

No matter our long range battle-plans, we have a show to steal! Many thanks for the following review are due to a fine fellow referring to himself as Iron Geek. It seems that the American version of IRON CHEF is a bit rough around the edges in its early incarnation. Personally, I think the entire concept of a non-Japanese IRON CHEF show is madness, but it does seem to me that with proper development, the show could become worthwhile. It must evolve, though. Like a Psyduck into a Golduck. Or a Pikachu into a Raichu. Anyway, here's the review:

Iron Chef U.S.A. - Showdown in Las Vegas

WARNING: SPOILERS BELOW

If memory serves, "Iron Chef U.S.A." is a domestic retooling of a foreign television show; the Americanized version having been born from a perceived lack of inventiveness in contemporary TV. With the pulse-pounding, adrenalin-packed schedule over at the FoodTV Network (insert only partial sarcasm here), it's apparent that Americans really get into their food. But why shouldn't we elevate cooking to a spectator sport? Food's one of those things that's really defined us as a culture! But how is it that the Japanese beat us to this unique and exciting culinary game show?

I'm not sure, but however it happened, we were pissed and had to take our revenge.

I use the term "revenge" because that is probably the best description of what I saw at the taping of the second of two UPN specials that are intended to serve as stepping stones for an American version of the Japanese series. I also use the term since that's pretty much what the floor manager said to us ... that unless "Iron Chef U.S.A." takes off, we'll be "stuck with" the Japanese version. This kind of "we're better than you are" attitude did not bode well for the night about to begin.

However, to be clear, I think that the Americans responsible for this program were acting out of the best of good intentions. If you are unfamiliar with the show, it is centered around an eccentric gourmand who sets out to find the greatest culinary masterpieces in the world by pitting brilliant chefs against each other in one hour cook-offs. The backstory is all made-up, of course, with the Chairman being played by renowned Japanese actor Takeshi Kaga. The contest, on the other hand, is quite sincere. While one of Kaga's "Iron Chefs" defends the honor of his Kitchen Stadium, the battles are intense, creative and usually quite engaging. To add to the suspense and difficulty of the time limit, each chef must also work a secret ingredient into each of their dishes. (Have you ever seen Broccoli Ice Cream before? If not, you've not been watching "Iron Chef".)

I had my apprehensions about the American version before I went in and -truth be told- this somewhat colored my viewpoints. However, let's start with how it began.

Taped in the MGM Grand Casino in Las Vegas, the American show starts with four Iron Chefs (each one different from the Japanese version) to defend the Kitchen Arena. Why they named it an "Arena" rather than "Stadium" I have no idea. After seven years of the original show calling it a "Stadium", it just ended up sounding wrong, somehow.

One of the differences that you notice right away is the set. It's different. And well it should be. This is, after all, a different country and a different setting. And, to the credit of the art directors, the setting was regal and spectacular. Nice, over-sized columns, draperies and floral arrangements made the set look just as impressive as the Japanese stadium was. But despite how good it looked, there was a problem. You see, the audience is intended -unlike in the original series- to be an integral part of the show.

Some of the set-pieces were so tall that they obscured the view of the monitors that the audience was supposed to be able to watch and see play-by-play images of the two chefs and their creations. Instead, we had to rely upon a floor manager cuing us to applaud, shout, scream, stomp our feet, whistle, yell taunts/jeers and even go "ooooh" and "aaaaah". We couldn't easily see what was going on in order to react naturally. They even handed out cardboard signs that we were supposed to wave during the contest amidst our loud, boisterous shouting.

Now, this is the biggest point of contention I have with the show. At it's heart, "Iron Chef" is supposed to be about a contest of brilliant, culinary artists. The trappings of the the Stadium (-er- "Arena") are secondary, at best. The over-the-top-yet-sincere performance of the Chairman is also just icing on the cake.

The American version replaced the applause and good-natured cheering of the original with the very epitome of the "Ugly American". We were loud. We were boisterous. We were like Julia Child in a spiked collar sitting outside a WWF ring while watching the Undertaker shove a twenty-pound souffle up Mick Foley's ass. We became the stereotype of the loud, uncouth American; and this bothered me most of all because most of the fans they were aiming for, while fond of cheers and applause, are *still* epicurean fans possessed of some decorum.

The show and direction from the floor, destroyed all that.

Now, many fans have cringed at the inclusion of William Shatner as "The Chairman" (the Takeshi Kaga role). However, I'm going to state -right here and now- that Shatner does an Ok job ... but not how most of you would think.

Luckily, from where I was seated (behind the VIP seats), I could see both the teleprompter and Mr. Shatner. The dialogue they put into his mouth would make Dr. Suess cringe at it's over-the-top, silly nature. While the Japanese version of the Chairman was silly through the nature of his grandiose and Liberace-esque persona, he was always sincere. The dialogue written for Mr. Shatner was silly. Very silly. It made him look like a buffoonish caricature rather than a sincere devotee of culinary exploration. And, in so doing, this distracts -again- from the energy of the competition.

Rather, whenever the teleprompter indicated that Mr. Shatner should Ad-Lib, he was witty. He was genial and funny. He was engaging. If the producers of the show somehow come to read this review, take this one piece of advice with you...

Let Shatner Do His Own Dialogue!

His rapport with the audience was fun; his emotions genuine. As a human being who has many years of experience on the stage, he has learned how to interact with live audience members much better than the people who attempt putting words in his mouth!

The trick to playing the role of the Chairman is to play over-the-top without being degrading or lessening the seriousness of the competition. Think of Shatner in some of his more somber moments of "Free Enterprise" ... this is the type of person we need for the role. Lampooning reality, but without distracting from the drama and intensity of the moment!

But there was a lot distracting us apart from the dialogue fed to William Shatner.

The challenger rode in on the back of a motorcycle. The color commentators were dressed as (and acted like) announcers from Monday Night Football. The Chairman kept wandering around the Kitchen getting involved with the chefs rather than letting the floor reporter cover it.

All distractions. All unnecessary.

This brings us to the floor reporter. Sissy Biggers, formerly of "Ready, Set, Cook" on the Food Network (now, replaced by English chef Ainsley Harriott), gets to play the role of the roving reporter on the floor. Now, she's well-equipped to handle this job and her face should be recognizable to folk who watch the FoodTV Network. However, her usual perky self seems a bit out of place here. Not that she can't act serious, it's just that in her bright yellow suit and chipper, melodic tones, she seems more at place in a show by Disney than "Iron Chef". Note to producers: let her culinary knowledge show through, let her lead the announcers and don't ask her to be the same host as she was on "Ready, Set, Cook". She has it in her to be a fine floor reporter on her own ... just coordinate things with the announcers so she can do it.

When the ingredient was revealed as...Dungeoness Crab!

...it was as live and kicking as in any episode of the Japanese version. It was not unveiled with a flourish by the Chairman from under a red cloth, but -rather- revealed from a large, plastic, Tylenol-shaped cannister. A fine ingredient, I'll admit, to test any chef's skills. And, yes, the gruesome butchering of the live crabs (with challenger Kerry dismembering his crabs while still alive) was quite genuine.

Now, as for the coordination of the event, well...

I found out that the previous night's taping went badly. Very badly. It was supposed to start at 7 and finish around 10. Instead, the fans got trapped in the studio until 1 am! The time between finishing the dishes and getting them to the tasting panel had apparently been over 45 minutes for just the first dish! By this time, the carefully prepared foods had cooled to room temperature and things just fell apart. (Reportedly, according to a member of the studio staff who worked on the show, one of the two chefs in the competition was absolutely furious about the situation.)

Even when we were there for the second night of taping, it was clear they needed more time to get ready for a live event. Still, on the second night, things got done in a timely manner and the whole thing was over by 10:30. (Kudos to the floor crews for learning from the previous night's mistakes...)

Finally, where the tasting panel is concerned, there needs to be some improvement. In the original show, the panel of four guest judges was always split up between 2 who knew a lot about food and 2 who were just basic celebrities. In this case, we had 4 celebrities.

I was pleasantly surprised to see one of them being Bruce Vilanch. At first, I thought he was the comedic voice on the panel to make things flow more easily with little jokes and commentary. However, while he did indeed unleash the barrage of humor that's made him so famous, he also -very clearly- knew what he was talking about. He knows his food and is clearly able to differentiate between simple creativity and stunning flights of originality in the culinary arts. Still, what I wouldn't have given for a food critic or other food-saavy person on that panel!

When we were in attendance, the Iron Chef American (Todd English) was picked to defend Kitchen Arena and the challenger, a Chicago-area chef named Kerry, did an excellent job facing him. All of the Iron Chefs, to the credit of the show (over the Japanese version) were originally from the country of origin that they represented. Also, gone is the Iron Chef Japanese and Iron Chef Chinese as individual Iron Chefs, and -instead- they're role is blended into the new Iron Chef Asian.

One tradition that the American version kept, was that of the B.D.J. or "Bimbo DuJour". Fans of the original show will tell you that this is the unintentional addition of at least one member of the tasting panel to be vapid to the point where counting brain cells could be done on one hand. "Iron Chef U.S.A." proved no different. They managed to bring in a Playboy Centerfold (which one, I couldn't tell you ... I don't think it matters, really) who's commentary was rarely beyond the Junior High level.

("Oooooh! I didn't know you could cook pancakes like this!" - in reaction to a layered pancake-like gourmet item prepared by Iron Chef English.)

In the end, the show was Ok. It was an Ugly American version of "Iron Chef" and makes us look like uncultured boobs whose only interest in culinary matters is who gets hit first in the Big Pie Fight. (No, there's not *really* a big pie fight in the show, but it almost felt like it wouldn't be out of place).

"Iron Chef U.S.A." needs to allow it's acting talent to actually ad-lib and deliver original lines. It needs to reduce the boisterous and uncouth nature of the audience participation. It needs to drop the overtones to football in the form of the commentators. It needs to get a wider range of people on the tasting panels; not just actors and singers, but people who actually know what they're talking about. And, last, if they are going to continue to film these before a studio audience, try to show the people in the stands what's happening on those monitors and not just rely upon half-heard whispers from the commentators and cast.

So, who won the contest? Well, far be it from me to spoil your fun but if you've read this far, you don't mind knowing in advance that Iron Chef American, Todd English, was the victor. And, I'll add, he deserved it. His dishes were truly inspired and his presentations were fabulous. I couldn't taste the food, mind you, but his creativity was beyond question. He deserved the win and didn't seem to be a shoe-in or "fixed" match (as is so common in certain Las Vegas events).

I hope the show will evolve and change. To be honest, the original show has a seven-year history for the American version to live up to; it probably had its rough spots, too. However, if American audiences are to warm up to this program, I would hope that the producers of "Showdown in Las Vegas" would try airing a carbon copy of the Japanese show here, first, before deciding to second guess what makes it popular and churn out a glitzy, superficial interpretation.

Well, that's all for now...

Allez Cuisine!

-"Iron Geek"

Many thanks, Iron Geek, for a fine look at this adventure. Let us all hope together that this show can be improved upon and become a proper homage to the original and only true divine food combat television series.

-Dave, El Cosmico

elcosmico@aintitcool.com

Readers Talkback

comments powered by Disqus
    + Expand All
  • July 2, 2001, 4 a.m. CST

    Originality

    by SilverMarc

    If the show was meant to be the same, they wouldn't bother making a new version of it. If it is "American", then it must add Amercian elements to it. Unfortunately, those are Motorcycles and William Shatner. I think Shatner is quirky enough to pull it off. Remember, this type of show doesn't have that large an audience that they have to cater to. (No pun intended).

  • July 2, 2001, 4:54 a.m. CST

    It would've been so easy to do right....

    by filker-tom

    Why IS it that everyone who adapts a non-American TV show (Norman Lear notwithstanding) does it up goofy? Iron Chef USA could've been so cool. Premise? Nothing simpler. Kaga and Shatner are old drinking buddies, and Shatner decides to "carry on the dream" (and wardrobe). Kitchen Stadium? Remember that it's a kitchen first, and that the competition, for all of its pagaentry, is in fact deadly serious. Take it seriously, as opposed to having pre-made fan signs and prompting "OOOOH AHHHH" every time somebody lights up the brandy or lops off the head of a crustacean, and the spectacle will take care of itself. Challengers? Catherine Cora, Martin Yan, Curtis Aikens, Mario Batali, Nick Stellino, who do you want? Bring back Michael Noble and Bobby Flay. Have a special challenge match, with honorary Iron Chef Ron Siegel. Bring in Morimoto or Sakai to retain the honor of the original Iron Chefs. Crew? I'd have put Keith Olbermann as the play-by-play man, with Alton Brown on color commentary and Michael Cole as Ohta. For permanent judges, Al Roker and Catherine Cora. For guest judges? Hoo boy. Start with Mick Foley and Patricia Richardson, and go sideways from there. Candice Bergen, Harlan Ellison, Annie Lennox, Mitch Albom, Nichelle Nichols (Hey! Stacking the judges! And thank goodness they're stacked like that.) Charisma Carpenter as honorary BDJ. Arianna Huffington. Dennis Miller. Could you imagine the fun of Molly Ivins and Jim Ross debating barbecue? Or Joe Straczynski and Wolfgang Puck discussing the future of food? It could've been so cool. Best, Tom Smith The World's Fastest Filker www.tomsmithonline.com

  • July 2, 2001, 4:58 a.m. CST

    Oh No....

    by JohnyDangerously

    Once again the Americans have taken a good quality forign import and changed (ruined) it to supposedly fit American tastes. Can you say Weakest Link? I hope that this version of the show never makes it to Japan. Then they'll see exactly how foolish Americans are. Remember, if it ain't broke don't fix it. I wonder if Shatner eats a giant pepper or anything like that?

  • July 2, 2001, 4:59 a.m. CST

    I fear for the Food Network.

    by kid_ego

    This show will suck on its premise alone. The only redeeming quality I think this will have is Shatner. My God, the whole reason the Japanese (and in my opinion, ONLY) version of Iron Chef is a success is the cheesy dubbing and over-the-top commentary. It's like Kung-Fu Theater from the eighties. People loved it because it was something they couldn't see anywhere else. It was a look into a different culture. This American version of IC will be just another stupid ripoff that fails miserably for the Food Network. If they want better ratings, move some of their other show around and put more emphasis on real food knowledge, not flash or flair. Good Eats is an example of a truly funny, knowledgable show that totally deserves all the credit it can get. Alton Brown's onscreen persona is different, but more genuine than Emeril's even. Just an opinion.

  • July 2, 2001, 5:39 a.m. CST

    food network

    by tongxinglian

    Just to clarify, food network is a pretty good quality channel, and the new Iron Chef USA is going to take place on UPN, which seems to be doing a lot of overhualing with its programming (ie getting Buffy, and some other shows), so either it's going to have a lot of good stuff, or a lot of crap. Also as a note, Food network is going to bring 52 "new" episodes of Iron Chef for next year, so they're in good shape (in total, there's probably more than 300 or so episodes, you can check for great info at ironchef.com). As for the new Iron Chef, I don't think it's going to work out that well. Part of what made Iron Chef so great was how all the guests and audience took it so seriously; how into the food everyone was. I also wouldn't quite agree it was the dubbing that made IC so funny, although that was a part of it. It was the personalities of the guests and hosts, and the overall concept of placing sports-like commentary into a competitive cooking show. I wish I could have seen some of the original episodes, subtitled before they decided to dub most of the shows on food network (it's still really good, though) because I hear that the sidelines reporter O-tah speaks crazy fast, and he actually had to practice his speech all the time to keep it at that level.

  • July 2, 2001, 5:39 a.m. CST

    Not Missy f---ing Biggers...

    by mhking

    Of all the people they could have come up with, why her? To follow on the "over-the-top" sort of roles, they should have gotten say Mike Adamle (hasn't he been out of work since 'American Gladiators'?) -- the two lead commentators on the original 'Iron Chef' (Kenji Fukui & Shinichiro Ohta) are both Japanese baseball announcers. Adamle's sports acumen would work here. Missy Biggers has the play-by-play/sideline reporting/commentating skill of a trained chipmunk. Her voice grates, and she has no business near a microphone. If anyone from "IC:USA" is reading this, PLEASE sack her, and find someone who can appreciate the campy fun of IC. I have to agree with the other point -- LET SHATNER DO HIS OWN DIALOGUE! As much as people talk about him, he has proven (SNL, Free Enterprise, the Miss USA Pageant, Priceline.com's commercials) that he can be self-depricating and certainly get into the fun of the situation. He realizes that he can have fun with something like this: let him. It will show in the finished product. Let's hope that Lion's Gate can see this and do something with it.

  • July 2, 2001, 5:41 a.m. CST

    In the words of Luke Skywalker...

    by B A Fett

    NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!! That's not true! That's impossible! Fucking producers can't leave well enough alone.

  • July 2, 2001, 6:08 a.m. CST

    God, I hate Bobby Flay...

    by Slugworth

    Just had to get that one off my chest.

  • July 2, 2001, 6:15 a.m. CST

    Part of the appeal of the original

    by Geekgrrl

    is that they are so over the top serious about it. Part of the appeal is also that they eat the goofiest of foods, and think they are wonderful, "Oh, I like this squid ink ice-cream, you can use the dried squid as a spoon!" Oh well, maybe this will get more people to watch the Food Network imports.

  • July 2, 2001, 6:17 a.m. CST

    Iron Chef Rules! Shatner, dubbing, and other thoughts.

    by -mrbean-

    First of all, the reviewer didn't seemed to thrilled over Shatner's dialogue. If memory serves, The Iron Chef works so well, in part because it is over dramatic. Well, if Shatner is given cheesy dialogue and acts priceline-ish, then it will work. If the music is thematic, it will work. However, from the sound of it, they seem to be putting togehter a show for 2:30am Friday night/Saturday morning tv instead of something for Primetime television. If that is the case, it will not work.

  • July 2, 2001, 6:47 a.m. CST

    Iron Chef's cheesy dubbing

    by SutureSelf

    It's interesting how the cheesy dubbing on Food Network's Iron Chef is perceived as one of its attractions by some of you. I first got into IC a good year before it was picked up by Food Network when I stumbled upon it on our local Japanese-language station. I didn't understand a word of it, but I found it one of the greatest entertainments I'd ever seen, instantly addictive and endlessly facinating. My wife and I began anticipating Sunday night with that tummy-fluttering excitement one feels when Delight (with a capital "D") is around the corner. When IC pulled the plug on itself - on itself! It went out "on top," still going strong when the IC powers-that-be inexplicably decided to culmiante the series with the great internecine Ultimate Iron Chef battle - I felt a disappointment unlike any I'd ever felt before surrounding a TV show. By that time, I'd picked up a few Japanese words from context and had gotten to know the regulars by their personalities, if not their commentaries. The contrived spectacles of Chairman Kaga and Kitchen Stadium's milieu were always relegated to their proper place by the genuine spectacle of the cooking. And the show was not afraid to break format whenever it seemed appropriate to do so. In other words, the makers of the show were always thinking, never content to fall back on mere formula. Like the Iron Chefs themselves, the show's creative forces didn't rely on mere recipe. So, when I heard that IC was being picked up by Food Network and that it would be dubbed, my excitement was renewed. I would finally learn what all the comments actually were! I would develop even a deeper appreciation for the show. Friends, what a disappointment. Iron Chef is not like some ninth-generation Mothra sequel that has no intrinsic value in its original language and therefore can gain camp value from cheesy dubbing. You may have noticed that cheese has virtually no place on IC. I can't tell you not to like a dubbed IC. That's up to you. "De gustibus non est disputandum." But to lose the original voices was a shame. A much better solution would have been well-written subtitles.

  • July 2, 2001, 6:49 a.m. CST

    by SutureSelf

    Culminate, not culmiante.

  • July 2, 2001, 8:33 a.m. CST

    Just for the Record...

    by -mrbean-

    ... I don't think that the dubbing was cheesy... it just doesn't seem that it is top quality... and you know what... that's fine with me because in some strange way it works! Have you ever seen an episode with an english interpreter? Well, the interpreter translation is not exactly the same as the dubbing. This is probably because the dubbers (who whatever they are called) change the dialogue of what is said on the show to better suit the American audience... in their opinions. So the actual dubbing itself is not cheesy... just not done very well. However, some of the voices are approaching cheesy, especially the voice of whatever actress is judgeing. It sounds like a voice from a litle girl in Pokemon or something. The laughs and "oh wows" are just too forced. But for some reason IT WORKS!

  • July 2, 2001, 9:50 a.m. CST

    "Iron Chef Asian"?

    by Cassius the Evil

    Clouds darken the sky; the stars rain down; the constellations stagger; the bones of the hellhounds tremble. In the name of all things holy, this must not be!

  • July 2, 2001, 11:49 a.m. CST

    The Ugly American strikes again

    by Sylvia Simon

    Looks like America is gonna mess up another good thing. Just another example of dumbing-down for mass US consumption. Please, please, please - let us see the preparation, rather than a group of idiots cheering and booing! What I love most about the real IC's is the fierce competition between the two chefs; the furious chopping/mixing/etc that goes on. And so they put pillars up to block the view AND gave the audience cards to wave around? Wow. Kaga-san must be hanging his head in shame. At least let Shatner do his own thing, please? And does anyone know if the real IC's are available without the dubbing?

  • and if they can't.....just get rid of the audience. "Iron Chef" on Food Network, if you all noticed, doesn't have a live audience just whomever has been invited to sit in the VIP boxes. I say get rid of 'em NOW. That Iron Chef battle between Morimoto and Bobby Flay (god, I hate him) showed just how ugly a live American audience can be. How embarrassing. As for Iron Chef USA - it's gonna tank. Period. Cuz when you can watch the original, why watch a fourth rated wannabe?

  • July 2, 2001, 1:01 p.m. CST

    Iron Chef and now Emeril Lagasse.......WTF?????!!!!!!!!!!!

    by General Idea

    This at the same time I learned of America's favorite jackass annoying newyorker getting his own primetime NBC sitcom? God save us... Turn it up a notch and set fire to yerself Emeril you swine.

  • July 2, 2001, 1:07 p.m. CST

    Cassius- are the porters silent, too? ;-P

    by Pulzar711

    Seriously, glad to know others enjoy 'Akhnaten'. As to the topic, both US vs. Japan shows embarassed the hell out of me. I was hoping Morimoto-san would go for Flay after the cutting-board flipping. How shameful. And now motorcycles and football announcers?!?! Another good premise will be ruined just like Battlebots was; I have to mute those bastards whenever they come on. Yuck yuck yuck. Why fix it if it ain't broke? These producers must be neutered to protect the gene pool.

  • July 2, 2001, 1:34 p.m. CST

    Get me a hammer...

    by Redbeard_NV

    so when I'm finished with my dungeness crab I can beat the fecal matter that serves as brain tissue out of the producer's skulls. WHAM!WHAM!WHAM!...damn, is there no end to the shit for brains in these bastard's heads? Fuck it, let's just shoot 'em!

  • July 2, 2001, 2:53 p.m. CST

    please - don't ruin this too!

    by Anai

    I love the original IRON CHEF. It's one of those rare ambassadorial shows like the original Star Trek or Babylon 5 that crosses cultures and appeals to everyone - why? Because it introduces and then takes us DEEP into (what for us americans is) an "alien" culture. In this case, the Japanese culture. Watching this delightful show is like an seven course education in gentile politeness, integrity, nobility, fairness, creativity, and honor - ALL IN ADDITION to the "food" content. (I had a tear in my eye when Iron Chef Sakai went searching for himself and visited his parents graves, then ate a raw potato from the very field where he pulled them from the ground as a child.) It is the very "Japanese-ness" of the program that makes it so unique and fascinating to watch. The only times I have ever cringed while watching the ancient magical art of "flavor conjuring" being worked in Kitchen Stadium were the embarrassing showdowns with the American Chefs, particularly the arrogant and insulting Bobby Flay. Of course, I don't know and can't say anything about the new Chefs on Iron Chef USA until I get a chance to actually see them - but I just can't see how they can be as fascinating and deep as the Japanese Iron Chefs - if the creators are indeed reading these posts for feedback and need some suggestions - make sure to explore the human side of your chefs, go DEEP into their philosophies and the tragedies and triumphs of their lives. And don't pick arrogant flakes like Bobby Flay as the new Iron Chefs. Pick real, sophisticated and articulate artisans, not some hot under the collar lettuce choppers who throw their cutting boards on the floor and jump up and down on the food preperation table like Rocky. That's a sure way to get me to turn the show off and keep watching repeats of the original IRON CHEF on the FOOD NETWORK.

  • July 2, 2001, 3:17 p.m. CST

    Bobby Flay......

    by Chinpoko Mon

    ......is GAY!

  • July 2, 2001, 5:20 p.m. CST

    Damn, why do they always give these shows to chimps?

    by coop

    This show could be just as cool if not cooler than the original but the morons who they put in charge don't understand what's cool about it. The episode of the Iron Chefs where they went to New York was the worst one ever BECAUSE of the annoying hooting audience. It sounds to me like the people who were put in charge of this were only told the concept and they planned the show without ever seeing the original. I will give the show a chance but I am highly annoyed.

  • July 2, 2001, 6:48 p.m. CST

    Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live.

    by ar42

    The gods of television shall strike down this Western abomination halfway through the first season to be replaced by a new show called "Cooking In Prison" hosted by Robert Downey Jr.

  • Watching chefs... uh... make food is so powerful. HEY KWIZANN!!! He's frying that Syrian cabbage in pine nut oil!!! Oh my Lord Jesus Christ! Pine Oil!? This is more dumbfounding than Emeril getting a sitcom on NBC.

  • July 2, 2001, 8:20 p.m. CST

    Oh! and one more thing!

    by Boss Hog

    I hope they get Charlie Sheen as a celebrity judge and he says "this tastes like Molly Ringwalds asshole".

  • July 2, 2001, 8:22 p.m. CST

    Stupid American Hicks

    by mrhappy

    Dammit. Stupid loud Ameican hicks!! learn some dignity. Its just like Godzilla. Damn retards. Shatner?????? at least hire someone believable as a multimillionaire chairman and not damn captain kirk. What? no Doc? Monday night football commentaries???? At least get an intelligent critic who knows what they are talking about. And screw the audience fan reactions. Its just like that fool Bobby Flay. So obnoxious. Screw Iron Chef English. What?? they're dissing the original Iron Chef, thinking they can outdo it???? Damn white people think they own the world.

  • July 2, 2001, 9:07 p.m. CST

    IRON CHEF USA needs to be more like original IRON CHEF!!!

    by IronGodus

    First, you need to keep Iron Chef Japanese and Iron Chef Chinese for IRON CHEF USA -- eliminate or combine French and Italian if you want but keep Chinese and Japanese -- because America and Americans are really into Chinese and Japanese food these days. I even see other restaurants, like French and Italian, using Chinese and Japanese incredients, techniques and styles. An Iron Chef American named Todd "English"? WTF?! Who the fuck is Todd English?! Anyway, here is my wish list for for IRON CHEF USA: Martin Yan, Ming Tsai & Masaharu Morimoto! FORGET Shatner (Kirk) -- GET George Takei (Sulu)! [IRON CHEF CHINESE]: Martin Yan is a favorite from among PBS viewers but he seems to be busy with his own cooking show ( http://www.asianconnections.com/yancancook/ & http://www.asianweek.com/2000_06_29/ae3_martinyancancook.html ) [IRON CHEF AMERICAN]: Ming Tsai is the best chef on FOODTV by far but he is already busy with two cooking shows on that network ( http://www.foodtv.com/celebrities/tsaibio/0,2076,,00.html ). [IRON CHEF JAPANESE]: Masaharu Morimoto, who resides in the USA and has restaurants here, should be included in the new American Iron Chef show to bring fans of the Japanese Iron Chef on board ( http://www.foodtv.com/celebrities/morimotobio/0,2913,,00.html ). [Iron Chef Host]: George Takei will be able to fill Chairman Takeshi Kaga's hosting duties in America. George Takei has the right voice, attitude and the flair for the dramatic as well. Finally, make IC USA more like the original!!!

  • July 2, 2001, 9:16 p.m. CST

    IRON CHEF USA needs to be more like the original IRON CHEF -- if

    by IronGodus

    First, keep the Iron Chef Japanese and Iron Chef Chinese for IRON CHEF USA -- eliminate or combine the Iron Chef French & Italian if you want but keep the Japanese & Chinese Iron Chefs -- because America is currently falling in love with Japanese and Chinese food in a big way. I even see European style restaurants stealing incredients, techiques and styles from Chinese and Japanese cuisine. An Iron Chef American named Todd "English"?! WTF?! Who the f*ck is Todd English?! Anyway, here are American IRON CHEF nominees for IRON CHEF USA: Martin Yan, Ming Tsai & Masaharu Morimoto! FORGET Shatner (Kirk) -- GET George Takei (Sulu)! [IRON CHEF CHINESE]: Martin Yan is a favorite from among PBS viewers but he seems to be busy with his own cooking show ( http://www.asianconnections.com/yancancook/ & http://www.asianweek.com/2000_06_29/ae3_martinyancancook.html ) [IRON CHEF EAST-WEST]: Ming Tsai is the best chef on FOODTV by far but he is already busy with two cooking shows on that network ( http://www.foodtv.com/celebrities/tsaibio/0,2076,,00.html ). [IRON CHEF JAPANESE]: Masaharu Morimoto, who resides in the USA and has restaurants here, should be included in the new American Iron Chef show to bring fans of the Japanese Iron Chef on board ( http://www.foodtv.com/celebrities/morimotobio/0,2913,,00.html ). [Iron Chef Host]: George Takei will be able to fill Chairman Takeshi Kaga's hosting duties in America. George Takei has the right voice, attitude and the flair for the dramatic as well. Finally, make IRON CHEF USA more like the original!!!

  • July 2, 2001, 9:57 p.m. CST

    To hell with this- 'Iron Chef Asian(?!)' Go watch GOD OF COOKER

    by twindaggerturkey

  • July 2, 2001, 10:15 p.m. CST

    Another one bites the dust...

    by TheGr81SLASH

    Another great show or idea shot down in flames. When are we gonna get great stuff on TV? What looked great on paper or copied just gets watered down. is'nt it enough that we get more reality shows in the fall that are'nt interesting anymore and we also get crap that was copied/plagarized? TV's gonna suck this this fall, people, so wake up and tune out this fall!!

  • July 3, 2001, 2:18 a.m. CST

    Oh thank-you, oh thank-you, oh thank-you

    by Huneybee

    I thought I was the only one that despised Booby Flay(that was a typo but I decided not to change it). I don't give a damn what he does with a grill, my personal favorite would be if he cut a piece off his own ass, marinated it, and served it to that ready, set, cook woman!!! I love the Iron chef, just as it is and cannot imagine the travesty that "westernizing" it will have on one of my favorite shows. NOOOOO...say it isn't so!!!!!!!!!

  • July 3, 2001, 6:24 a.m. CST

    by Michel Delving

    I believe it is pronounced "Bobby Fray".

  • July 3, 2001, 6:50 a.m. CST

    This has "catastrophe" written all over it

    by ellid

    Regardless of whether they used William Shatner or not, letting 45 minutes pass between the end of the cooking and the serving of the food is inexcusable. And having a live audience? *grrr* I give this a month, tops. And all the Iron Chef fans will go watch the 52 new-to-America episodes on the Food Network, beginning with "Battle Bamboo Shoots." At least, that's what I intend to do....

  • July 3, 2001, 8:24 a.m. CST

    Bobby Flay was doing exactly what the Japanese producers wanted

    by barkalounger

    ...when he jumped on the cutting board. If he hadn't acted "flamboyantly American," they wouldn't have been happy. I'm absolutely certain they asked him to jump up a second time. Japan doesn't want us to be anything but the crazy, embarassing Americans we are. When Tojyo Disneyland was built, most of the animatronic characters were kept "American" because their behavior was what the Japanese expected. This isn't Japan's fault, or course, it's ours. And I think it's damn funny that American behavior has become something of a pasttime for them. Now, don't get me wrong: IC:USA will suck cuttlefish. However, I expect that the Japanese audience (if there is ever one) will be as entertained as they are appalled.

  • July 3, 2001, 8:46 a.m. CST

    Original Iron Chef will always be the best one

    by Terry_1978

    I'm not really looking forward to an American version of Iron Chef. It would seem too bland, in all honesty. I prefer watching the Japanese chefs make dishes that many Americans would cringe at eating, the campy dubbing(it's hilarious how they always use the same chick to voice each and every Japanese female on the panel), and everyone's overall exuberence on the show(it's akin to the WWF over here, only no chair slamming, though I think I saw Keiko take a chair to iron chef kenichi once). This does not sound like a good idea to me.

  • July 3, 2001, 8:47 a.m. CST

    Mesa Grill patrons all have burning corn poops.

    by jbum

    Burning corn poops are the result of overuse of chipotle chiles and corn.

  • July 3, 2001, 10:12 a.m. CST

    Reality check people....

    by Xander71

    The Iron Fucking Chef? Are people SERIOUSLY bitching and moaning about this? ITS A FUCKING COOKING SHOW!!! The duel with ovens and broilers and shit. WOO HOO!!! Where the fuck do I sign up to watch THIS programming??? The mother-fuckin' food network. I cant WAIT till we have The Jock Itch Channel, or The Mom I Have That Not So Fresh Feeling Network (oh wait...they already have that one...it's called Lifetime) As to the person listing the virtues of the Japanese....you forgot one. RACIST! Japan is the most racist country on the planet (with Korea a close second).

  • July 3, 2001, 10:14 a.m. CST

    And another thing....

    by Xander71

    You warned about spoilers in this review. ITS A FUCKING COOKING SHOW!!!! Yes PLEASE warn me before you spoil the final ingredient of Green Eggs and Ham a'la Hiroshima.

  • IRON CHEF is a really funny show like CROCODILE HUNTER, that really isn't supposed to be. Hyping it up and playing it serious instead of campy (as this version sounds) just seems wrong somehow. I love how on IRON CHEF the chefs always look like they'll commit hari-kari at the end. good stuff! But, yeah, keep Shatner

  • July 3, 2001, 8:05 p.m. CST

    "Fukui-san?" "Yes, go ahead, Ohta..."

    by CalabashCorolla

    "Why is it that Americans can't come up with their own ideas for TV shows?" I mean, really. Comparing IC USA to the original is like comparing a Croissanwich to the original French pastry. Just because it's foreign doesn't mean that Americans can't possibly enjoy it. IC Japan has a kitzchy quality to it, i.e. the appeal to us (Americans) is in our failure to completely understand it. We may never even consider eating squid ink ice cream, but watching the Japanese panel ooh and aah over it mystifies us. And yes, the dubbing makes it all the better, because all of the voice-over people seem either to have the personalities of bricks or to have ODed on nitrous oxide. Knowing that the judges are (presumably) intelligent people otherwise makes it funny. Turning it into a WWF-esque affair (has XFL taught us NOTHING???) will do nothing but cheapen it and send it to a premature grave. An idea: since some of us may be tired with the complicated gourmet fare that the Food Network constantly shoves at us (judging from the strong anti-Bobby Flay sentiment), if the TV execs really want to give us a competitive food show, then why not a sort of "county fair" - type set-up as follows: each week, a TV crew sets up in a small town somewhere where "aioli" is nothing more than a funny word. The top "homestyle" cooks from the town, mostly the grandma types, would compete to make their best home-cooked dishes, like chicken-and-dumplings, apple cobbler, etc. Then, a panel of folks from the town would judge. Hey, you could even throw in some nice prizes for the winners. And no one would cry "rip-off" because it wouldn't be. And Chairman Kaga could be spared his tears :) .

  • July 4, 2001, 12:42 a.m. CST

    where's "Endurance"?

    by SykkBoy

    As long as we're American-izing foreign gameshows, how about "Endurance"? In my college years, myself and a few buddies would load up the VCR with "underground" copies of the most insane gameshow I've ever seen...guys sticking golfballs up their butts and trying to walk the further, stadning barefoot on a Habachi, etc. pain = fun. also, Xander71 really needs to lay off the caffeine ;) Stay Sykk

  • Nov. 14, 2001, 6:31 a.m. CST

    The good, the bad, the ugly

    by mikezone

    To underscore some of the good points: The chefs and their cuisines match. This is of immeasurable importance to me since I'd like for more people in the US to openly appreciate other cultures. Enjoying different cuisines from an authentic source is key. Speaking of the chefs, they have quite a line-up! Each of the chefs have a resume that distinctly flatters the original show. Since the heart of the show is really about the chefs, I think this aspect is true to the spirit of Iron Chef. Personally, I think William Shatner is an excellent choice for chairman. While I don't equate Shatner with culinary excellence, I do associate Shatner with bombastic dramatic flair. So much so that he's often lampooned about his acting style. If he's let loose to do what he does best, he'll be a good show to watch. Just keep him out of the kitchen! As for the motorcycle, sure, I'll accept it. It could be a stereotypical perception of Americans loving things that are fast, sleek, and racy. Or it could be showmanship. It's just another silly thing to gnash teeth at and move on. What really kills me is what I've read about the audience and who the judges are. I suppose the audience is necessary. (Someone's going to pay money to see the show up-close and all, especially in Las Vegas. When someone's waving money around, it's hard to not take it.) But the focus should be on the chefs, the chairman and the commentators and how much fun they can be. Really, you have the most fun anticipating the food and watching the people having fun and then working like hell in the mean time. Grown adults going nuts with sharp knives and heavy pans. When the food is finally unveiled and tasted, it's a fitting climax. Which leads me to the judges. With the exception of Bob Vilanch (who consistently impresses me with his wit and broad knowledge), I'm hugely disappointed in the prospects. In the original, the celebrity judges were pretty much expected to rate everyone highly, mostly because they didn't know any better. They were just fun to listen to. While I suppose the actors can judge the presentation and showmanship, that's not what Iron Chef is about. It's about FOOD! Without professional gourmands, there's hardly any emphasis to the food. What a waste and insult to assemble such fine chefs unless they really were going to be tested to the utmost of their abilities!