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Jun 26, 2000 09:04 AM

Morimoto vs Flay - Iron Chef Battle

  • c

I'm interested in reading chowhound reviews of
the Iron Chef battle between Flay and Morimoto
that aired last night. (I didn't know crabs
had brains.) I thought it was way too long
and drawn out. I didn't get the thing with the
kid from Arizona (why?) Gordon Elliot is irritating.
Am I just being cranky?

Anyhow, what did you think?

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  1. I got cranky myself after watching that junk.

    WWF meets Julia Child??
    Someone must explain this show to me, it makes Emeril's bam-fest look like a serious cooking show.
    I'd never seen this show before, but I JUST DON'T GET IT!?!
    The guy biting the pepper, the halloween costumes, the disco ball filled with crabs, the annoying kid, the more annoying "live" reporter spouting useless info and the interview with Flay's girlfriend???HUH?
    Then the Japanese chef gets all bent out of shape at the end because Flay jumped up on the table, listen dude, you just plucked crabs from a disco ball!

    The show's concept isn't bad and with all the hype, I thought maybe it would be kind of fun, but was I wrong.

    Maybe the next "big" show will be about seven chefs on a deserted island, and one by one they vote each other off...

    29 Replies
    1. re: Brad

      I can understand why "New York Battle" seemed incomprehensible. It was a badly staged crossbreed between an odd yet delicious Japanese TV show, full of ritual elements and shaped for Japanese sensibilities, and the worst elements of the Food Channel (i.e. Gordon Elliott, Bobby Flay, and some producer's idea of a dramatic touch -- the kid in chef pajamas).

      I've enjoyed Iron Chef for a long time, something to do with the creative process and the excitement of on-your-feet development of amazing-looking dishes. Plus, I dig the exotic ingredients, dubbed Japanese and breathless, kitschy play-by-play announcers.

      I'm glad Flay got his butt whooped, no suprise if you've ever tasted recipes posted under his show on Finesse and subtlety are not Flay's strong points, and they are Morimoto's.

      Of course, there could have been an Iron Chef bias, perhaps set up to make up for the ridiculous set of photo ops Food Network trooped these guys through before the contest.

      Was I the only one saddened by watching some of the better chefs in Japan being forced to smile as they concocted dishes from the leftovers in some Jersey family's fridge?

      Good stuff about NY Battle:
      *Watching Bobby Flay get electroshock
      *Morimoto rules
      *Might have gotten good enough ratings to encourage the Japanese producers to do more episodes

      Bad stuff:
      *Morimoto's freak-out over Flay standing on his cutting board. Is this some horrible sin in Japanese kitchens? If so, you'd think the guy might manage to keep his annoyance to himself.
      *Gordon Elliot. Again. For some reason he makes me think of the same three words: Ball peen hammer. I shouldn't say why.
      *That woman doing the floor reporting should have taken some tips from the real show.
      *Whoever set up the kid in pajamas thing should be made Gordon Elliot's handler for life. They deserve each other.

      1. re: a. galarneau

        Re: Morimoto's "freak out". Yes, it sounded to me that standing on the cutting board might be considered a "sin" in the Japanese kitchen. Moritmoto said they consider cooking accoutrements as sacred. p.

        1. re: pat hammond

          Regarding Bobby Flay's stunt of standing on his cutting board - I'm not Japanese and it seemed pretty stupid to me too. But from a Japanese perspective, it offends on two points:
          1) feet are considered the dirtiest part of the body (that's why Japanese take their shoes off when entering a home), so to put your shoes on something you'd cook or eat off is unhygenic as well as disgusting.
          2) serious chefs respect their kitchens and cooking equipment and usually don't treat them like a jungle gym.

          1. re: Pamela

            By that same logic, no "serious chef" would ever dress in a goofy halloween costume like Morimoto did (could you imagine Bouley cooking in neon colored leiderhosen??) Please, this whole thing was a fiasco and Flay/Morimoto were in the center ring performing like clowns.

            1. re: Brad

              More like pro wrestlers.

              You're taking this way too seriously. After all, they're entertainers.

              1. re: MU
                Little Tommy from Arizona

                Agreed. High camp and theater. While I do not quite buy the argument that this was completely pre-arranged - - why would they humiliate Flay with such wide differentials in the scores if it was a given - - there was a clear bias to the show toward the Japanese audience and a Japanese outcome.

                Hanover was there because Fuji couldn't find a respectable fortune teller to sit on the panel.

                As for the lack of a credible panelist or cookbook author, doesn't that speak volumes? Who wants to risk their credibility like that? Other than Zagat, and THAT surprises me none at all.

                1. re: Little Tommy from Arizona

                  > Hanover was there because Fuji couldn't find a
                  > respectable fortune teller to sit on the panel.

                  ROTFLMAO !!!!!! Right on, Little Tommy from AZ.

        2. re: a. galarneau

          from what i hear, the episode was an embarassment, at least the hour of fluff before. I agree with you about the show's good points, but i'm afraid we may have to watch our show be turned into a Disney theme ride or something. A shame, but quite predictable.

          The Porcini/paste battle on friday showed what works about the Iron Chef: interesting people, food and just a little drama. A cooking show.

          Admittedly, this show isn't for everyone, but it has its moments for the rest of us.

          1. re: a. galarneau

            Just so y'all know, both hours of the Iron Chef New York Battle were produced by Fuji Television, not Food Network. They did it all, including the unsettling bit with little Tommy.

            1. re: Liza

              OK, so Fuji produced it. But someone was calculating this show to dovetail with Food Network tastes -- otherwise why the inexplicable presence of Gordon Elliot, etc.?

              Whoever was at fault, they proved one thing: Iron Chef and Food Network ought to remain separate flavors. Next time, fly Flay or whoever to Japan.

              1. re: a. galarneau

                Am I being one sided because I cannot stand Bobby (fish) Flay? I love to BBq (slowwww cook) but I can't watch this Chillin' thing cause that red haired Bumpkin is so rude to his gracious co host McDavid. Flays actions moods and obvious need to "Be the man" turn my gut.
                I think he really is a spoiled rich kid punk

                1. re: Duk

                  I just don't understand the Chowhound hatred of Bobby Flay! Not just you, Duk. I've said it here before, but I like him, his shows, his food, and his restaurants, those last two before I was aware of him as a "celebrity chef".

                  OK, I understand it, in the sense that I've heard the reasons, and I'll hear them again. Just don't agree.

                  1. re: Bilmo

                    Yeah, Duk, I'm with you: Why does this site throb with such contempt for Bobby Flay? Yeah, he can come across as a little pugnacious, but so can half the chefs on television these days. He's a bit on the flippant side, sure, but he deserves a lot of credit for revolutionizing the way New Yorkers taste Southwestern cooking, starting at the (still delightful) Miracle Grill, but really fleshing out the flavors at his own Mesa Grill. And he acts like a rich kid because he IS rather a rich kid. His father is one of the owners of Joe Allen's, he once told me when I asked him how he got his first restaurant job--this was during a cooking class at his alma mater, the French Culinary Institute.

                    Anyway, if you think Bobby Flay is arrogant, just try Alain Ducasse on for size sometime! The point is, we've turned chefs into celebrities, and we expect them to act like show-biz pros. I'm much more interested in whether or not they can COOK!

                    1. re: Tom

                      I'll go along with the fact that we should see or taste how these TV personalities "Chefs" cook--But--I still have a hard time liking this guy--I guess I don't have to watch him but when I do I just laugh at his arrogance so I guess he does give me entertainment

                  2. re: Duk

                    Amen, Flay really is a pain in the ass, whiny little punk. And his food blows. Mesa is the most overhyped restaurant in the city, hands down.

                    1. re: Alex

                      Right on Alan
                      The little Red head really gets me iritated.
                      Anyone who is as rude to people on national TV should be taught a lesson in manners. The worst part of it is they are His guests or Friends or both!! I can't believe this guy.

                      I have watched his show and I love it when he can't answer the simple questions that Jaqui throws at him or better yet when she can answer them and he can't. Jack McDavid is a classicly trained chef and could cook circles around Mr Quesidilla on his worst day

                      1. re: Duk

                        Have you been to Jack's Firehouse in Philly? It's mediocre at best. Flay is the far suprior chef. But Jack is an entertaining character.

                    2. re: Duk

                      Not like Emeril's shtick doesn't get a bit tiring (if he would just stop yelling "Fork a lemon!" for the big audience response...) but at least I get the sense Emeril likes people and the sharing knowledge aspect of his show.

                      Whatever he's like in person, Flay comes off as a snotty little food snob who wants you to know he's oh-so-clever ("Of COURSE tangerines go with chicken livers, EVERYBODY knows that...")

                      Or maybe I'm just biased because whenever my wife sees him on the TV she screams "aaaaaaaaagh!" and makes me change the channel.

                      1. re: a. galarneau

                        Last night I tried to watch Flay's new show called
                        "Food Nation". I couldn't even stand it
                        until the first commercial break. I think I
                        changed the channel after about a minute and a half.
                        He is obnoxious. I went through a period when I
                        couldn't stomach Emeril either, even for a few
                        seconds. Now I can watch him for several minutes
                        without hitting the remote. Lately I've been wondering
                        why it is that public television stations have
                        cooking shows that are so much better than FoodTV.
                        Lidia's Kitchen is my favorite lately (Lidia
                        Bastianich's show). She cooks without fanfare or
                        pretense, teaches valuable techniques clearly and
                        provides helpful background information. (Enough
                        said - I'm obviously a fan.)


                        1. re: christina z

                          I can obviously stop regretting that we don't get the food channel here in deepest Brooklyn.

                          1. re: christina z

                            Why are the shows on the Food Network so much worse than those on PBS? Because the chefs tape up to 8 of them a day, then go back to running busy restaurants. It is a wonder that the shows are even as coherent as they are; it is a wonder that the chefs have anything left to say. PBS shows may not have much in the way of production values, but by having production values at all they are one step ahead of the game.

                            1. re: Pepper

                              I have no cable so I have no comment in this issue that is truly valid but I must say I loved watching jacques pepin and his daughter cooking together. First the food was all great and not too intimidating . Plus she made him more human than culinary killing machine and asked all the questions a novice, like myself would. It was funny when she would try his culinary patience a bit and you could see his clenched teeth!

                              1. re: rebeccahodgson

                                Jacques and Claudine, absolutely! One of the best cooking shows ever, and in my opinion, a show that had more to say about the dynamics of family life than a million WB tearjerkers put together. The way he corrected her awkward chopping, the way she would mention that her mother loved this particular dish...all these little subtle moments just about broke my heart.

                                About a year ago, a friend and I thought we spotted Claudine at the dog run in Tomkins Square Park. I don't think it was her, really, but there was this moment when we realized that we were both stupidly starstruck and totally crushed out.

                                The series with Jacques and Julia Child was also brilliant in the tender respect and deference they showed each other. The one where they each made their own version of scrambled eggs, and tasted and complimented each other's dishes, remains one of my favorite half hours of TV.

                              2. re: Pepper

                                Never, even on the Food Network--where I worked, in its infancy, on a show i'm too embarrassed to mention--did a chef tape 8 shows a day. Three maybe. Not 8. Small correction.

                                The biggest difference between PBS and Food Network is money. PBS spends a lot more per episode than The Food Net and that money translates to Production Values.

                                Production values are not only visible on the set decoration but trickles down everything: the food stylists, the cameramen, the lighting package, the director, the producers, the researchers and of course the talent. Production values are the whole gestalt of most PBS shows, whereas the Food Net chooses to spend as little as possible to get flashy (and cheap) shows to fill up their air, get ratings, get advertisers, and get viewers.

                                It's equivalent to the sucky USA network M.O.W.s (movies of the week) vs. an NBC one. They both may be awful, guilty-pleaseures but at least the NBC ones look good and have better writers, actors, etc.

                                1. re: marionr

                                  Emeril claims that the first couple of rounds of Essence taped 8 shows a day. The Too Hot Tamales women said that they typically taped 6 shows a day. Which I believe--they had daily shows, and were in New York less than one week a month. But you're right--the lower production values are key.

                                  1. re: Pepper

                                    If you want to discuss cheap production values, you really can't beat the MetroEats show produced through Cablevision of NY. I've seen home movies that were more sophisticated.

                          2. re: Duk

                            Hate to pile on, Bobby, but you've got a lot to learn about relating to human beings; not only to your T.V. co-hosts, but to your audience-at-large. Jacqui Malouf may not be a rocket scientist, but THAT show would have been completely embarassing without her filling in all the blanks for you. Quit acting so condescending to your co-hosts. Maybe you can COOK, but doing a show requires the ability to TEACH; and jeepers, a little CHARM wouldn't hurt! If you can't take the heat of the T.V. lights,STAY IN THE KITCHEN!

                        2. re: Liza

                          how embarrasing the food network went along with this production. from little tommy to the disco ball and everything in between. first, how come emeril was`nt chosen to represent, I guess that would have been a total embarrasment, but flay did his best to come off as an emeril like goofball. that entrance with the raise the roof, oh please.if only their had been more current running thru that ladle maybe he would have been a little more grounded (ha ha). I mean if your going to come off as Ali you had better back it up. but instead he got destroyed.his dishes didnt look bad but 3 of the 4 was dominated by green, not much contrast, obviously taste was another story.the best taster was the kid from the audience. where was rosengarten? could`nt you get a real critic in there or at least an cookbook author i.e kafka, bout lydia, it would have given it some credibility, donna hanover "the actress" yeah o.k. I would`nt say flay is not a chef for jumping on the cutting board ( after all you can``t spit on the ball field in japan cause it`s considered sacred) but a good cook who was over matched and got his ass kicked on national t.v. still wanna raise the roof Bob?

                      2. re: Brad

                        the team that comes up with the best recipe for RAT MEAT? No thanks. LOL

                      3. I can't really "review" it because some of it was just too embarrassing for me to watch. Yikes!that bit with the kid from Arizona! I have no idea what that was about except maybe an attempt at some warm fuzziness.Flay, yelling like Tarzan when he entered the arena, had me up out of my chair and heading for the kitchen. I do believe that Morimoto's outrage at seeing Flay hop up on the cutting board at the end was not contrived. pat

                        1. Here's my fantasy battle: The cheesy major domo introduces the ingredient: crab. Japanese chef creates his concoctions and here's my part:

                          Bobby throws those suckers into a vat of boiling beer and sprinkles them with Old Bay. He rolls out some butcher block paper in front of the Zagats & Mrs. Mayor
                          tosses out some Premium saltines, bottles of vinegar and Louisiana Hot Sauce and a little melted butter. He tosses a pile of the crabs onto the table and sets an ice cold bottle of Bud Ice in front of each one.

                          FLAY WINS: PERFECT SCORES ACROSS THE BOARD!!!!!!!!!!!!

                          Call me a redneck girl. That would have been fabulous!!!

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: kim

                            If only Flay had received the same advice that old Iron Head did - - Be Faithful to the past, don't do something different for the sake of being different - - he could have walked away with it.

                            Crab Cakes, Crabs 'n' Butter, Crab Meltaways, Crab Balls.... what else do you need?

                            1. re: kim

                              he lost and acted like an ass!

                            2. I suspect the match was arranged in order to take advantage of Japanese nationalistic pride. In spite of its popularity in the US, the show is still aimed at a Japanese audience. The whole episode was basically 'Japan vs USA', and it wouldn't surprise me at all if they agreed to do the NY show only if Flay agreed to lose, and to do boorish things designed to make him look like an ugly American. He already has three shows on the Food Network, and I can't imagine he really cares about his 'honor' with regard to winning on Iron Chef. This concept means a heck of a lot more to the Japanese.

                              The fabrication of some little kid in Arizona who want to be Morimoto when he grows up also seems designed to do three things: 1) Put forth the idea that even little American kids who haven't been completely enculturated can see that the Japanese cook is superior. 2) To demonstrate that Morimoto has a solid fan base in the US, and 3) To build a warm-fuzzy bridge between US and Japanese viewers.

                              I love Iron Chef for its camp value, and for its window into the Japanese take on cooking. The cooking-as-sport metaphor, its goofy play-by-play, and its ridiculous, pepper-biting Japanese Liberace of a spokesperson are overblown and fun, not real. C'mon, guys, this is the cooking equivalent of Power Rangers. You have to take it in that spirit.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: MU

                                It occurs to me that the NYC angle is simply an extension of the customary 'framing story' that accompanies the introduction of each challenger. The framing story is really what determines the winner. Example: Young girl genius chef,just starting out. She gets to win, because she's a genius and an underdog. She returns a few years later, divorced, having left a large kitchen to start her own restaurant. This time, she loses, because she's damaged goods. Show gets to rhapsidize over her "bravery" in striking out on her own.

                                NYC framing story is: "Japanese chefs conquer America."

                                Other details I noticed: According to a commentator, Morimoto "felt no need" to work outside of traditional Japanese cuisine, despite the fact that his cooking usually tends to be more "neo-Japanese". Tradition was sufficient for defeating the uncultured, undisciplined American.