Saturday, November 17, 2007

The Show I Can't Miss: Iron Chef America

Iron Chef Mario Batali
Originally uploaded by Heidi Meeley
A couple of years ago my friend Brant told me he had found a television show that was a "must-see". It was called Iron Chef America and it was based on a Japanese show called Iron Chef. The premise is that an "Iron Chef", who was considered a cast member and a top chef in their own right, would face off against a competitor to do battle in the kitchen. Given one secret ingredient and an hour to cook five dishes, the chefs would go through a frenzy of fast paced food preparation and cooking to try and outdo the other.

What makes the show even more interesting is that three judges are selected to try the dishes and vote based on taste, plating, and originality. The chef scoring the highest points is the winner of the battle.

I am absolutely addicted to Iron Chef America. I love to see such talented artists create masterful dishes in a limited amount of time. At times it inspires my own cooking and at other times it awes me to see how easy the chefs make it look. Armed with two assistant chefs, the competitors must prepare five dishes that are original but tasty. It never ceases to amaze me when I see how much pure talent and creativity go into each show.

One thing that separates Iron Chef from the average reality television show is that there is talent involved. Unlike the dating shows or "dare" shows, Iron Chef America requires a competitor to have absolute skill at creating food that a person can feast on and enjoy. Watching these chefs is like watching a dance of sorts.

My favorite iron chefs are Mario Batali and Masahuro Morimoto. Batali has a great sense of humor and cooks with flair. I am always impressed with how clever and unique his dishes are. He is absolutely incredible. Morimoto came from Japan where he was a competitor on the original Iron Chef. He has an air of grace and sense of determination that separates him from the rest. One of my life goals is to someday, somehow eat a meal prepared by one of these gentlemen. Pretty lofty, I know.

My other goal is to someday be able to go watch the show be taped. I am a bit reticent at times to go through with this as I don't want to lose the "magic" I feel when I see the program on television, but I also feel like I miss part of the joy of the show by not being able to smell the aromas that must permeate Kitchen Stadium.

If you enjoy reality television and love to eat, go find Iron Chef America and give it a look. It is on the Food Network Sunday nights at 9 p.m. and Thursdays at 9 p.m. It is also shown at various times throughout the week. For great entertainment that promises good eats, this is the show to see.


Vaklam said...

Iron Chef is one of my favorites. I got hooked on the Japanese version and I catch the American one whenever I can.

Your two favorites are mine, too. Morimoto was the young, flashy one on the Japanese show.

He's got a restaurant in Philadelphia that my wife and keep trying to get to but we haven't made it yet.

Elayne said...

Mario's my favorite as well, followed by Cat Cora (my favorite lesbian Greek southern philanthropic chef!). I hope Mario's still going to be a regular, now that they've added Michael Symon (who might be fun to watch, and has the added bonus of having a blog so we can get his thoughts after the show airs; he debuts tonight).

Eaglewing said...

I love watching Iron Chef too. What these chefs can come up with in a short amount of time is pretty wild, and when it goes down to the wire to finish their dishes, it gets pretty intense. I also like whenever they use the ice cream maker to come up with really unusual stuff...

RedheadFangirl said...

I haven't watched Iron Chef in years (since Bobby Flay stood on the cooking station!), but used to really enjoy it.

If you like Mario, you must read Heat by Bill Buford. I wouldn't last at Babbo for one day!

Lisa said...

Did you watch the "Next Iron Chef?" I only caught a couple but that was fun. I love this show as well! Back in July I even wrote about it on Sequential Tart:
It's just below my bit on $40 a day

Morimoto and Cat Cora are my favorites, but I'll be interested in checking out the new guy too.

Richard said...

Babbo is only a couple of blocks away from my home, and I often run into Mario around the neighborhood...sometimes in front of the restaurant chatting with people, sometimes taking his kids to play in the park. There isn't any star attitude or condescension with him; he's pretty much exactly the way he comes across on screen, just a laid back guy who loves what he's doing and enjoys teaching people about it. I'm glad to have him as a neighbor.

RF is quite right in her recommendation of the Buford book, if it needed seconding!

Heidi Meeley said...

Vaklam- I love the Japanese version as well and I can never find it on the schedule anymore!! :-(

I really want to eat at either Batali or Morimoto's restaurants sooner then later!! Maybe when Jim and I go see his family in Wilmington, we can make the jaunt!

Heidi Meeley said...

Elayne, I also hope Mario will continue to be a regular on the show. It would just break my heart if he retired from being an Iron Chef!

Thank you for letting me know that Symon has a blog. I didn't know that and I will have to track it down! I can't wait to see him cook as an Iron Chef.

Cat Cora has that mellow vibe under pressure that is absolutely incredible. She is absolutely fascinating to watch.

Thank you again for the tip on Symon's blog!

Heidi Meeley said...

Eaglewing- the infamous ice cream machine!! How could I forget to mention that? God knows that the chefs get really crazy ideas about what is good frozen. LOL!

The fast pace and creativity absolutely combine to make a totally fascinating show. I am glad you are a fan as well!

Heidi Meeley said...

Redhead Fangirl- thank you so much for the link! I can hardly wait to check it out!!! :-)

Heidi Meeley said...

Lisa- I did watch "Next Iron Chef" and loved every nail biting minute! Thank you for the link to your post- that is so cool! I am totally addicted to the show and watch it religiously. Luckily for me Jim likes it too since it is reality television that actually requires skill rather then the dating shows he loathes!! :-)

Heidi Meeley said...

RAB- Can I just say that I am totally jealous of you? I have always really wanted to meet Mario Batali. He has such flair and such a great sense of humor on the show. I am happy to hear he is a regular joe and that he interacts around the neighborhood. Now I have got to got eat at his place someday!!!

Did I mention that I am totally jealous?