Iron Chef: America Finally Returns To Food Network
After two seasons of Iron Chef: Gauntlet, and one new chef to the pantheon, the actual competition returns
When Iron Chef: Gauntlet premiere a second season last month, I bemoaned the idea that the network had managed to bring back the show that produces Iron Chefs, but not the competition itself. It was most obvious with those the finalist would go up again. Iron Chef Izard was one of the three “Gauntlet” chefs the final contestant would have to run against, and moreover, it would be her actual first competition as an Iron Chef to boot, a full year after she’d won. Unless she, and the new winner, were given an actual stadium and multiple chances to prove themselves, the title they were winning would be mostly meaningless.
Food Network apparently saw the problem as well. They also saw a problem in having the outcome be fait accompli. As I watched the IC:G finale with my husband, he noted “If Chef LeFarve is the only finalist left, then this is simply a formality, right? They wouldn’t actually have him do all this and then lose?”
To our shock, it turns out that’s exactly what they did. Not that I was complaining, the last thing the Iron Chef pantheon needs is another white dude. (They do however desperately need diversity beyond original Iron Chef Morimoto, who they inherited from Iron Chef Japan.) It was good that Izard remained the only new Iron Chef, but could they please do something with her?
Turns out they’re going to. This coming Sunday, Iron Chef: America returns for the first ten-episode season since it slipped away in 2014.
Not much will have changed. The chairman is still Mark Dacascos, and Alton Brown is still the main point of narration from behind the multiscreen podium. But floor reporter Kevin Brauch will not be back, and neither will the nice but sightly in over her head lady Jamyee Sire who wandered around during the Kitchen Stadium during Iron Chef: Showdown. The idea with Sire, who is an ESPN on-field reporter, was to make things more sporting event, but she didn’t have the food knowledge to keep up. So now they’re going with a real chef who has competed in Kitchen Stadium, Jet Tila, who has the personality to be a sports reporter and do NFL style commentary and the knowledge base to talk about what he’s seeing.
Speaking to Entertainment Weekly, Alton Brown admits he was the one who pushed to revive the series:
Several good chefs over the last couple of years when we weren’t making the show would say, “Gosh darn it, one of the reasons I became a chef was hoping to be on that show!”
Let’s hope they put up a good fight on the stadium floor. Iron Chef: America Season 13 begins airing this Sunday, May 20, at 9 p.m. ET.