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Oct 7, 2007 06:33 PM

The Next Iron Chef

I was not intending to watch yet another of these "reality" cooking shows, but I am now watching the Next Iron Chef and it is a pleasure to watch real chefs, even if they are asked to do more stunts than serious cooking. Love John Besh (his restaurant is divine!)

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  1. I hated to see Traci Des Jardins leave. I think she is a great chef.
    Funny how Ruhlman kind of bashed Symon, being from the same town and a friend of his. So what if he was familiar with the dessert, didn't Mourou {sp?} say his banana dessert was something he always cooked?
    Interesting show.

    1. Yeah, I wasn't going to watch either; but ..... I did find it fun watching very established chefs (1) really creating off the cuff awesome sounding/looking dishes and (2) screwing up! I thought that Alton was a bit over the top (and I love the guy, but he is having a power trip). It'll be a good "in the background" show for Sunday night while getting everyone ready for Monday.

      50 Replies
      1. re: Suzieg

        Yeah, what was up with Alton? He did seem a little full of himself. Don't get me wrong, I love the guy too. But I found him rather annoying tonight.

        1. re: tachis

          Alton knows that he should be running Iron Chef. He should be hosting it. The Chairman's nephew is is superfluous. Alton know he is the show and might be making a play. I, for one, would welcome our Alton Brown leader.

          1. re: Mr Conlin

            I don't know why you think Brown is more qualified." After all, they're just both actors at the end of the day.

            1. re: ChefJune

              And the Chairman character is purely fluff. It's not like the part comes with a real-life job as dean of a prestigious culinary school. He doesn't actually "run" any part of Iron Chef. The commentator role is a lot bigger and carries a lot more face- (and voice-) time and for a culinary performer the added bonus of getting to showcase your considerable knowledge.
              There's very little reason Alton would covet the Chairman role, although now that Iron Chef America is fully established I could potentially see the network dumping the extraneous chairman.

              1. re: ChefJune

                The chairman is the luckiest actor on earth. Regular gig, and all he does is introduce the challenging chef, pace for an hour, and then eat food by some of America's greatest talents. Alton knows his stuff, does the heavy lifting for show and doesn't get to taste anything.

                1. re: slowcooker

                  If Alton "knows his stuf" then why in the world is he talking about "de-boning" a chicken. You "bone" a chicken, you turkey!

                  1. re: pikawicca

                    I agree w/you, although the word "de-bone" seems to be used more often than not, wrongly I think.

                    1. re: pikawicca

                      Maybe because he also knows that a good portion of people watching his show might not know what he meant if he said "bone a chicken." Or also because "debone" is a word and he's using it correctly. Both "bone" and "debone" are correct.

                      1. re: ccbweb

                        yep, debone is a perfectly accurate and acceptable term. it seems silly, but they both mean the same thing.

                        1. re: ccbweb

                          Not only might people not know what it means, they may *think* it means something inappropriate!

                          1. re: jzerocsk

                            Yeah but he is kind of a clown... that would only add some comedic pizzazz to the show.

                      2. re: slowcooker

                        He also introduces the secret ingredient, sometimes with a hilarious facial expression accompanied by big bug-eyes.

                      3. re: ChefJune

                        Thank you. While Marc Dacascos is actor playing a character (the Chairman), Alton is less an actor and more of an MC. He still has a motivation (to be the "Chairman's" spokeman) and a goal (to not let the cheftestants get out of control), but he gets to be himself.

                        1. re: barndog

                          Alton is first of all an ACTOR! He is playing the role of MC on this show, as he does on ICA. He uses lots of incorrect words, because they're what's on the teleprompter, and as an actor, he's really good at the teleprompter.

                          Yes, I know he went to NECI. That was because he couldn't sell himself to TV for a show of his own any other way, so he got himself a culinary degree, and now he's conning millions of Americans to think he's some kind of authority! His science info comes from Shirley Corriher, and of course, he's no dummy. He did learn some things in culinary school. But "expert" he's an expert actor, imho.

                            1. re: ccognac

                              Its common knowledge for anyone who cares to find out. Read his bio! He is a Culinary school grad, but that does not make him (or anyone else) a Chef by itself.

                              1. re: ChefJune

                                Ruhlman and Bourdain both describe Alton as the rare food personality who can actually cook.

                                1. re: ChefJune

                                  He never said he was a Great Chef - he leaves that to the contestants... he makes an interesting and amusing compere, and that's all that matters. (if he sucked at his job, now THAT would be worth complaining about!)

                              2. re: ChefJune

                                "That was because he couldn't sell himself to TV for a show of his own any other way, so he got himself a culinary degree, and now he's conning millions of Americans to think he's some kind of authority!" - That's a huge criticism - and a bad humored one at that - one that I think you need to have facts to back up (IMHO).

                                I've learned a lot from Alton and I'm no schlep in the kitchen. And I like his quirky personality.

                                1. re: ChefJune

                                  I'm not sure the he's "conning" anyone. He is pretty straight forward with the fact that he doesn't consider himself a chef. He is a guy who is interested in the mechanics, finds it out and shares it with us. I'm not sure "actor" is the right word for him either. You offer a lot of accusations without any resources to back it up. That, and I believe somewhere I read that he doesn't use a most likely was from an article about him posted on chowhound. Why does he have to be a chef to have a good, informative show and know what he is talking about?

                                  1. re: sunshinedrop

                                    I would agree here. Alton is almost like a "coach" if that's an applicable term? Even the best athletes in the world like Tiger Woods and Roger Clemens have instructors to help them with mechanics like their golf swing or pitching motion. Although those instructors may not be on the same skill level, their knowledge of the craft is without question. Alton isn't a chef per se, but he does have elite knowledge of the craft and has a lot to offer both new and veteran chefs alike.

                                    1. re: Bunson

                                      Alton Brown is my favorite food network star. But there has been at least one occasion when his research staff let him down. On one show he said that avacados do not ripen on the tree. Fooled me! The best ripe avocados I've ever had in my life were picked ripe from my aunt and uncle's Calavo orchard. You just cannot get that kind of flavor from store-bought avacados. But in my viewing experience, the gaffs on his show are about the rarest of any show on FN.

                            2. re: Mr Conlin

                              The Chairman character is based on the Japanese show, and the guy is the old Chairman Kaga's real-life nephew. He is supposed to be the eccentric gourmand who built kitchen stadium to stage the battles. I doubt Alton wants to put himself in that role, he is clearly the food host of the show. I agree he was being agressive...but these chefs are really sure of themselves and he needs to lay down the law!

                              1. re: kenito799

                                Food Network loves pretty faces, no matter how superfluous, and The Chairman's is much prettier than Alton's.

                                I like Alton, but also think he's bordering on obnoxious, but perhaps he's just hamming it up in an effort to create humor.

                                I love watching the real chefs' techniques, especially the knifework. At least they have real skills to go with the 'tudes, unlike the stupid chef competitions.

                                1. re: Claudette

                                  Well, they are infinitely more experienced for the most part. These are guys who run some of the better restaurants in the nation, not little sous-chef and caterers trying to jump start their careers.

                                  That Chairman was also the evil ninja from American Ninja!

                                  Kaga is a japanese actor too....weird story behind him, do a wiki search on him....

                                  1. re: Claudette

                                    I've read a number of places that the Chairman Kaga and the new chairman are NOT uncle/nephew in real life. The new chairman is from the Philippines or of that ancestry, I believe. I lost interest in the new chairman after I read that.

                                    1. re: sunshinedrop

                                      Both chairmen are paid actors. The new chairman is actually an accomplished martial arts expert so all those flips and stuff are real!

                                      Old -
                                      New -

                                      1. re: Bunson

                                        yes--I had believed the "urban legend", as reported in wikipedia, that the two chairman were related in real life. Their characters are related, uncle and nephew.

                                      2. re: sunshinedrop

                                        The only thing real on the show is the cooking. Everything else is just a gimmick - props, actors and the premise.

                                        Also, on the original Iron Chef, the Australian accent the judges and the commentators (Dr. Hattori, Ohta and Kenji) are dubbed in.

                                        One thing I'm not sure of is did the voice actors ad-lib in the translations or was it literal. Some of the comments are hilairious and sometimes subtly risque.

                                    2. re: kenito799

                                      The chairmen are uncle/nephew on the show. I don't think they are real life relations. They're actors.

                                    3. re: Mr Conlin

                                      I saw the chairman's nephew in a grade D sci fi movie one night. I kep t thinkin ghe looked familiar and sure enough it was him. He had no accent either.

                                      1. re: libgirl2

                                        He also played a buddhist monk in an episode of CSI.

                                        1. re: libgirl2

                                          Mark Dacascos's native language is English. He's from Hawaii. He's been in a lot of things.


                                          1. re: libgirl2

                                            The guy who plays the nephew was the villain in a Jet Li movie from a few years back. He does have a martial arts background, not a culinary background.

                                            The whole thing that made watching Kaga so enjoyable was the man's style, he is campy and flamboyant and yet also very earnest. he would occasionally poke fun at himself too, in an unobstrusive way. In creating the role of the nephew they took away all the campiness and flamboyance which made the role superfluous.

                                            Also, in creating a role for Alton they took away one of the best things about the original Iron Chef, the clueless comments of the guest judges and the dead pan certainty of the color commentator. I think we need more clueless starlets on Iron Chef America, with Lindsay Lohan, Paris Hilton, Britney Spears all sidelined with nothing to do, this may be the time to re-introduce the bimbo factor on Iron Chef. of course they could just put RR on as a judge.

                                            1. re: Phaedrus

                                              Definitely a big part of the charm of the original for me was the absurd English dubbing and the wildcard ditz judge dogging the players. "That looks like a great dish but it all depends on how drunk Mayuko Takata is by the time it gets to her..."

                                              1. re: Phaedrus

                                                Or better yet, Sandra Lee as a judge! That'd be fun!

                                                1. re: Phaedrus

                                                  I like those goofy judges of the original too. With John Besh they should have the American version of the old fortune teller.

                                            2. re: tachis

                                              I thought hard about this, because I'm an Alton fan and I was getting annoyed too. I think the annoying side comes out when he talks to the collected group of chefs, but you'll notice he's quite helpful and respectful when speaking to the chefs individually. I really do think he admires these folks and knows they're being made to jump through hoops.

                                              What really struck me most about the show, being an avid Top Chef viewer, is how professional all these chefs are. Helping each other left and right, making jokes and laughing at themselves. It's refreshing to watch experts behaving well, as much as love seeing hopefuls act like insecure.

                                              1. re: slowcooker

                                                the camraderie and good-natured ribbing among the chefs - both durig the speed challenge a while they were cooking - impressed me as well. in fact, it was one of the reasons i found the show so enjoyable to watch. they all acted like confident, seasoned professionals, and despite the 138[!!!] degree temperature in the kitchen, managed to maintain their collective sense of humor and joviality.

                                                1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                  I really liked the maturity and confidence level, too, after watching Top Chef. Desjardins' "farewell video" on also demonstrated what a secure, confident, thoughtful person she is. I wish we could have seen more of her.

                                                  1. re: kenito799

                                                    Since Jill Davy was the chef eliminated last evening, I'm wondering whether or not the women were invited in for window dressing?

                                                    I know, I know, shame on me for thinking that, but it has been going through my mind.....

                                                    1. re: ChefJune

                                                      i commented on that last night...i hate that the first 2 eliminations were the only female chefs in the competition.

                                                      plus, jill's my girl! i guess the consolation for those of us in l.a. is that it means she's still in the kitchen at josie making her famous tagine of short ribs.

                                                      1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                        Avoided this board for a few days, so sad to see Jill go! Seemed like they were asking alot from chefs without much technology experience to create a dish with all the equipment and chemicals. Too bad they didn't do a points based system, and not eliminate for a few erpisodes to start.
                                                        Loved the one chef that said he's been working his whole career to take chemicals out of foods and now he has to put them in. Amen to that!

                                                        1. re: jme1beachbum

                                                          that was michael symon...he may have been a bit slow out of the gate, but i get the feeling he's going to be a tough competitor.

                                                          i love his cooking style & philosphy. hopefully someday he'll return to cooking in nyc so i'll have the opportunity to taste his food...i simply have no reason to ever travel to cleveland!

                                                          1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                            the indians and his restaurants? :)

                                                            actually he's as fabulous in person as he is on TV (not a friend just have met him through foodie things - he's a great supporter of cleveland where i used to live). and his food is divine. can you tell who i'm rooting for?

                                                            1. re: AMFM

                                                              well, personal "favorites" aside, my money has been on besh all along...i just think he's got the most, he's incredibly talented and has the perfect demeanor to be an IC.

                                                              but michael symon is definitely growing on me, and now that my beloved jill got the boot i might have to start pulling for him as the dark horse.

                                                              1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                Being that this is reality tv, I wonder if they already know the winner? Seems like Besh would be the best fit for the job, but they get more publicity doing it this way. I do like him (my hubbie is rooting for him), but I didn't think it was very cool to wait a minute plus on a 30 minute challenge...mighta screwed the one shrimp plated chef? I think thats why he voted his the best, felt bad.
                                                                Why oh why di Jill choose that subpar secondhand fish! So sad!

                                                                1. re: jme1beachbum

                                                                  besh seems like a great chef. and i like cosentino too. just fun to watch and root folks on. i love the interplay between them all. and i'd be happy if any of them wanted to come and cook me dinner! :)

                                                                2. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                  Besh seems like he would be the most successful Iron Chef in terms of win-loss record, but the most entertaining would be Michael Symon. Symon could go 0-20 in his Iron Chef challenges but I bet those would be 20 of the most entertaining episodes ever.

                                                                  1. re: Bunson

                                                                    i get a kick out of besh too, though. he definitely tries to keep it light & have fun in the evidenced by his performance when he beat mario batali in "battle andouille sausage." he clearly enjoyed every second of it, and he seems to be having fun on TNIC as well.

                                                                    i like both of them. cosentino strikes me as a talented chef, but he seems to get defensive a bit too easily - i think he gets clearly irritated when someone challenges his food or philosophy.

                                                                    regardless, i'd be honored to have any one of these chefs - including the ones who were already eliminated - cook for me any time.

                                            3. I was at August just before Katrina, and it was one of the four or five best meals of my life. I think he will win. I can't believe Traci lost. It wasn't her event, but still. She's a great chef.

                                              I was hoping it would be a cumulative thing, where you could lose points on a bad day, so no one would really know til the end. Anyway, I didn't like the first half, but the second half was well done.

                                              1. I tried so hard not to watch, but ended up getting sucked in and actually found myself pleasantly surprised. Reminded me a little of the BBCA series Great British Menus (I think) where well-known chefs competed to create a menu for the Queen's birthday in that they were fierce competitors but seem to have a great deal of respect for each other as chefs, which makes it fun to watch. Hopefully it will continue like that and not go the route of TC season 2 or TNFNS where the drama just takes over. And it was nice to have FN focusing on food for a change!

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: tachis

                                                  well, they're not living together.....

                                                2. It's a shame they all think they have to follow a set format! What's with this eliminating one each week garbage? Don't they know how to tally up points for longer than that???

                                                  4 Replies
                                                  1. re: ChefJune

                                                    I agree that elimination makes the competition sort of random and maybe less fair...but the disadvantage of having so many chefs stick around is that you get so little coverage of how each dish was cooked and how it tasted. One of the things that I like about IC as opposed to Top Chef is the focus on the preparation.

                                                    I do think they could hold off on eliminating anybody until the second episode.

                                                    1. re: kenito799

                                                      In this episode, with 8 competitors, they devoted a very brief time to each competitor and each of the dishes. Things when by too fast. I would have loved to see how the one chef turned tripe into crisp what-evers. All you ever saw him do with the tripe was take the pressure cooker of the heat.

                                                      1. re: paulj

                                                        Not sure about that dish, but there are some interesting photo and video essays on his blog:


                                                    2. re: ChefJune

                                                      If it were just a serious competition among great chefs, overall points rather than weekly eliminations might have been more suitable.

                                                      But an Iron Chef has to dominate the competition, week after week, using sometimes very challenging theme ingredients.