Iron Chef America

Iron Chef America

Infobox Television
show_name = Iron Chef America

caption = Iron Chef America logo
show_name_2 = Iron Chef America: The Series
genre = Reality, Cooking
creator =
director =
creative_director =
presenter = Alton Brown
Kevin Brauch
starring = Mario Batali
Cat Cora
Bobby Flay
Masaharu Morimoto
Michael Symon
Wolfgang Puck Mark Dacascos
country = USA
language = English
num_seasons = 6
num_episodes = 92
list_episodes = List of Iron Chef America episodes
executive_producer = Stu Schreiberg
producer = John Bravakis
Steve Kroopnick
supervising_producer =
asst_producer =
co-producer =
editor = Morgen Kassel
location = Los Angeles, California
New York City
cinematography =
camera = Multi-camera
runtime = 46 minutes
network = Food Network
picture_format =
audio_format =
first_aired = January 2005
last_aired = Present
related = Iron Chef
Iron Chef USA
website =,1976,FOOD_16696,00.html
imdb_id = 0441718
tv_com_id = 26457

"Iron Chef America: The Series" is an American cooking show based on Fuji Television'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 arts expert Mark Dacascos, who is introduced as the nephew of the original Japanese chairman Takeshi Kaga (in fact, contrary to the urban legend which suggests that Moriko McVey, Dacascos' real-life mother, is the sister to Kaga, the two are not related). 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 Market. 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.

The 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".cite web |url= |title=Michael Symon back in action: The Lola chef wins his first Iron Chef competition against Ricky Moore |accessdate=2007-11-22 |author=Joanne Chen |date=2007-11-21 |work=Fortune Small Business |publisher=CNN Money]

"Iron Chef America" recognizes the Iron Chefs from the original "Iron Chef", though Morimoto is erroneously credited as having 66 victories in the original Kitchen Stadium as a result of a typo (he was, in reality, 16-9-1, with one victory coming in overtime). However, "Iron Chef America" does not appear to include "Iron Chef USA" in its history: when Iron Chef American Todd English appeared on "Iron Chef America" as a challenger, his record from "Iron Chef USA" was not reported and no references to him being an Iron Chef were made.

In "Iron Chef America", the Iron Chefs wear contemporary denim chef's jackets with solid-color patches and trimwork rather than the more elaborate chef garb of the original. However, the show does continue its predecessors tradition of having the chefs color-coded: Flay's jacket trim is blue, Batali's orange, Morimoto's white, Cora's pink, and Symon's black. On the left shoulder of each set of clothes is a flag representing their country of origin. Designer and former "Iron Chef America" judge Mark Ecko is designing new jackets for the Iron Chefs, inspired by the winning entry in a Food Network contest challenging entrants to design the new jackets. Alton Brown announced during the final episode of "The Next Iron Chef" that the new jackets would debut in the show's sixth season.

As Morimoto speaks English with a heavy accent and sometimes speaks in Japanese when describing his dishes, his voice is occasionally dubbed over by Joe Cipriano. Cipriano, a veteran TV announcer and Los Angeles radio personality, also provided the voiceover for Hiroyuki Sakai in "Battle of the Masters", a series of pilot episodes, and can also be heard on Food Network promos. When dubbing isn't used, subtitles are sometimes used to help viewers understand what Morimoto is saying.


In the first two seasons, after the challenger chef was introduced, the Chairman would announce their Iron Chef opponent. Starting with season 3, the show returned to the format of its predecessors and had the challenger chefs choosing which Iron Chef they would 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 in who they cooked against. Afterwards, 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 the "secret ingredient" is breakfast. Unlike "Iron Chef", where chefs had upwards of 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 common assumption that the battle starts immediately after the secret ingredient is revealed. This was revealed on an episode of "Unwrapped." The start of the battle is typically announced by the Chairman in the following manner:

: "So now America, with an open heart and an empty stomach, I say unto you in the words of my uncle: Allez cuisine!" [ [ "LAist Interview: Iron Chef America's Chairman, Mark Dacascos"] ] [ [ "Jacki Garfinkel, Iron Chef America: Secrets of Kitchen Stadium"] ]

"Allez cuisine!" (Pseudo-French for "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. [cite news |last=Fashingbauer Cooper |first=Gael |authorlink=Gael Fashingbauer Cooper |coauthors=Andy Dehnart |title='Iron Chef' ingredients aren't so secret |url= |publisher=MSNBC |date=2005-08-30 |accessdate=2007-11-19]

After the first commercial break, Brown would normally have Kevin Brauch introduce the judges, and many times Kevin will pay homage to the original by adding, "Konban Wa" (Japanese for "Good evening") in his introductions. Unlike the original series, none of the judges participate in the running commentary. At some point during the cooking hour, Brown will also provide further information on the theme ingredient, using visual aids as required.

The dishes are tasted by a panel of three judges, of which two are professional food critics (a contrast to the original "Iron Chef," which typically had one professional food critic as a judge, and "Iron Chef USA," where none of the judges were professional food critics). 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 as "Iron Chef" was with Hattori Nutrition College, so chefs also bring in their own assistants, or sous-chefs, often themselves extraordinary chefs in their own right. Like "Iron Chef" and "Iron Chef USA," 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 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 they had worked under).

The rules in "Iron Chef America" are also thought of as being less slanted towards the Iron ChefFact|date=May 2008: on "Iron Chef" the Iron Chef's food was always tasted second, while on "Iron Chef America," a coin flip 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), even though this was not done on "Iron Chef."

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" but not on "Iron Chef USA."

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. [cite news |first=Peter |last=Kelly |authorlink=Peter Kelly |coauthors=Tedd Mann |title=Diary of an Iron Chef: How Peter Kelly beat celebrity chef Bobby Flay at his own game, the grill |url= |publisher=MSNBC |date=2007-05-28 |accessdate=2007-11-19]

pecial Episodes

On November 12, 2006, Food Network aired a special 90-minute episode of "Iron Chef America" which 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. At the end of the battle, Batali and Ray were declared the winners.

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 between the four chefs. At the end of the competition, the team of Paula Deen and Cat Cora won.

On August 17, 2008 a special battle for Food Network's Brain Freeze Week was aired. The theme ingredient was melon, and each dish had to incorporate a frozen element.


"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 soon 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 of 2005. This season saw Kerry Simon become the first chef to challenge on two different versions of "Iron Chef", (against Todd English on "Iron Chef USA" and Cora on "Iron Chef America"); he also appeared as a judge in "Battle of the Masters". It also saw the first time an Iron Chef from "Iron Chef USA" challenged another Iron Chef, with English competing against Batali.

The second "Iron Chef America" 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", no overtime is played, although a rematch was suggested by Alton Brown. The third such tied result occurred in Season Three, when Susur Lee challenged Bobby Flay in a Bacon battle.

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 9th, 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 looks much more modernized than the one from "Iron Chef". In an "Iron Chef America" "Behind the Scenes" special, Iron Chef Hiroyuki Sakai voices his distaste for the modern look of the American Kitchen Stadium. When comparing it with the Japanese Kitchen Stadium, the American version looks much more industrialized with its stainless steel make-up. Sakai referred to the kitchen as "cold."

To accompany the modern look of Kitchen Stadium America, much of the equipment in the kitchen is top-of-the line. Appliances include six burner stove tops, an infrared grill, blast coolers, 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 exactly the same with appliances set in the same positions, and each pantry station has the exact same amount of food items as the other and include expensive items like saffron. Challengers may also sometimes bring their own equipment to their sections; most notably, postmodern chef Homaro Cantu used a Class 4 Laser, liquid nitrogen, and an inkjet printer with edible inks and paper in his signature dishes. [cite episode |title=Masaharu Morimoto vs Homaro Cantu |episodelink=List of Iron Chef America episodes| season=3|number=24] One of the most famous appliances in the kitchen is the ice cream machine (dubbed the "Ice Cream Machine of Doom"), which is infamous for chefs that use it to create the most abstract flavors of ice cream in an attempt to make a dessert course with the theme ingredient. [Behind the Scenes: Iron Chef America, Food Network Special, hosted by Alton Brown]

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 Iron Chef and his competitor and ask brief questions.

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 is in the audience and, again, when there are special guests. The audience is also now sometimes heard applauding the chefs, although they are still mostly hidden in the shadows.

Despite Kitchen Stadium America's ultra-modern look, many problems occurred 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. [cite episode |title=Mario Batali vs Anita Lo |episodelink=List of Iron Chef America episodes| season=1|number=9]

Notable judges

During the first five seasons, "Iron Chef America" has used a three judge panel for each match. Notable judges have included (in alphabetical order):

*Donatella Arpaia - successful New York City restaurateur
*Ted Allen -- food and wine expert on "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy"
*Karine Bakhoum -- President of KB Network News, a public relations company active in the foodservice industry
*Batista -- WWE Superstar
*Bonecrusher -- Rapper
*Aaron Brown - at the time, anchor, CNN's NewsNight
*Julie Chen -- co-host, CBS' "The Early Show" and host, CBS' "Big Brother"
*Kelly Choi -- Host of "Eat Out NY" and "Secrets of New York" on "Nyctv"
*Chris Cognac -- food writer, police officer and star of Food Network show "The Hungry Detective"
*Anderson Cooper -- anchor, CNN's "Anderson Cooper 360°"
*Jeff Corwin -- host of Animal Planet's "The Jeff Corwin Experience"
*Marc Ecko -- founder of Ecko (clothing line)
*David Evangelista -- well known Beauty/Fashion critic and hair stylist, as well as being a close friend to both Rachael Ray and Alton Brown.
*Tina Fey -- "Saturday Night Live" veteran and star of NBC's "30 Rock"
*Andrew Firestone -- heir to the Firestone empire and former ABC "Bachelor"
*Lester Holt -- from "The Today Show"
*Cady Huffman -- actress who starred in the original Broadway production of "The Producers".
*Jewel -- pop singer
*Katie Lee Joel -- former host of "Top Chef" and wife of singer Billy Joel
*Akiko Katayama -- well-known food writer
*Andrew Knowlton -- restaurant editor, "Bon Appétit" magazine
*Joel McHale -- Host of E!'s "The Soup"
*Isaac Mizrahi -- American fashion designer
*Natalie Morales -- National Correspondent, "The Today Show"
*John Nihoff -- Professor of Gastronomy at The Culinary Institute of America
*Soledad O'Brien -- co-anchor, CNN's "American Morning"
*Stone Phillips -- "Dateline NBC" anchor
*Mo Rocca -- former "Daily Show" correspondent; host of Animal Planet's "WHOA Sunday"
*Alpana Singh -- Master Sommelier and host of PBS's "Check, Please!"
*Harry Smith and Hannah Storm -- co-hosts, CBS' "The Early Show"
*Jeffrey Steingarten -- catty "Vogue" food columnist and author (often referred to as Asako Kishi's American counterpart, as he is the most frequently used judge)
*Anthony Williams-- former mayor of Washington, DC (judging shows while he was in office)
*Julie White -- television and stage actress
*Martin Yan -- Chef and host of PBS's "Yan Can Cook" as well as Food Network Canada's "Martin Yan's Chinatown" and "Martin Yan - Quick & Easy"

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 the cast of "Iron Chef America". cite episode | title = Attain Greatness| series = The Next Iron Chef | serieslink = The Next Iron Chef | airdate = 2007-11-11 | season = 1 | number = 6]

Video game

An "Iron Chef America" video game, titled "", is currently being developed for the Wii and Nintendo DS by Black Lantern Studios. It will be published by Destineer. The game will feature "a series of fast-paced and intense culinary challenges" and includes the voice acting and likeness of Chairman Mark Dacascos, commentator Alton Brown and Iron Chefs Mario Batali, Masaharu Morimoto and Cat Cora, which players can either play as or compete against. [ [ Iron Chef America: Supreme Cuisine officially cooked up for Wii, DS] , Joystiq, Retrieved March 10, 2008] [ [ IGN: Alton Brown and Iron Chef Cat Cora Join Destineer's Iron Chef America: Supreme Cuisine Video Game] , IGN, Retrieved August 30, 2008]

Both versions are set for release on October 21, 2008, having been delayed from their original and mutual release date of September 23, 2008.

See also

* List of Iron Chef America episodes


External links

* [,1976,FOOD_16696,00.html "Iron Chef America" Food Network website]

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