Iron Chef America

The Food Network’s popular culinary game show

"Iron Chef America" is a television program that airs on the Food Network. It’s based on the popular Japanese show "Iron Chef". Iron Chef America is actually the second attempt to adapt the Iron Chef format for a North American audience, the first being the failed "Iron Chef USA".

How the Competition Works

The show’s format is very similar to that of the Japanese version. It’s a culinary game show. Every episode, one member of a team of "Iron Chefs" is challenged by a contestant (who’s always a top chef from a restaurant somewhere in the US) to prepare the best meal based around a particular theme ingredient.

Once the clock begins, the challenger and the Iron Chef have one hour to cook their meal. Though the show is edited to appear as if the theme ingredient is a surprise to the chefs, they’re actually given a list of five potential theme ingredients before filming takes place so they’re able to formulate a rough plan of what they will cook.

The dishes are judged by a panel (of which two are professional food critics and the third is often a celebrity) on the basis of flavor, presentation and originality. The chef with the highest score is declared the winner.

In some ways, the Iron Chef competition more closely resembles a sporting event than a cooking show. The time limit causes chefs to race around the kitchen, desperately trying to finish their meal in time. Thus, perhaps it’s fitting that the competition is said to take place in "Kitchen Stadium," and includes a live studio audience.

The Iron Chefs

All of the members of the team of Iron Chefs have previous experience as the host of a show on the Food Network. The team includes Mario Batali and Bobby Flay, the latter of whom was previously a challenger on the Japanese version of the show. The only exception to this is Masaharu Morimoto, who was part of the original Japanese Iron Chef team and now takes part in the North American version of the show.

Participating in a Local Iron Chef Competition

Smaller, untelevised cooking competitions are regularly staged around the country. Many of these make liberal use of the format and conventions of the Iron Chef television series. It’s not uncommon for culinary arts students to take part in these competitions.

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