I was doing a rare bit of channel surfing last night and stumbled across some specials/pilots for a show called Iron Chef America. It’s being produced by The Food Network, which brought the original Iron Chef to the U.S.
Compared to the dreadful, William Shatner-hosted Iron Chef USA that appeared a few years back, the new show is far truer to the spirit of the original Japanese show. It loses some of the campiness and humor that came from the original’s excellent English dubbing, but the focus is on the cooking and the presentation, where it belongs. Food geek Alton Brown features prominently, which is a good thing if one doesn’t tire of hearing him.
Slate had a pretty unfavorable review of the new show last April, but its gist is that Iron Chef America has lost the charm of the original. To the contrary, I give them credit for keeping the concept without making it a clone. (Witness the awful American production of Coupling, which parroted the script of the original British version nearly line for line in its initial episodes.) Now that they’re about to move beyond the specials and start airing original episodes later this month, we’ll see how it holds up.