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Iron Chef

Iron Chef is a Japanese television program made by FujiTV. The original Japanese title is Ryori no tetsujin (料理の鉄人, Iron men of cookery). It began airing in 1993 as a half-hour show, and was soon expanded to a one-hour format.

Each episode presents a culinary battle between two chefs in "Kitchen Stadium". A contestant, usually a famous chef from Japan or elsewhere, is pitted against one of the show's four "Iron Chefs". Each of the Iron Chefs is an expert in a different cuisine, either Japanese, Chinese, French, or Italian. The chefs have one hour to complete their dishes. At the end of the hour, a panel of Japanese celebrities tastes and rates the dishes and crowns a victor.

The flamboyant host, Takeshi Kaga (鹿賀丈史) (known on the show as Chairman Kaga), and extravagant production values, contrasted with curiously pedestrian voice-over narration and polite but generally insipid commentary from the judges, not all of whom are food professionals ("This is really very good"), contribute to the eccentric style of the show.

Almost all battles require the opponents to cook a multicourse meal in which a special theme ingredient plays a starring role. The winner is said to be the chef who best expresses the unique qualities of the theme ingredient. Many theme ingredients reflect the Japanese nature of the show, for example, River Eel, Tofu, udon, and others. Ingredients more familiar in the west, like green peppers, summer corn, or peaches are commonly spotlighted as well. Featured ingredients tend toward the exotic and expensive.

Originally, the panel consisted of three judges, and contained preliminary battles for challengers to earn the right to face an Iron Chef. Later, the panel expanded to four. Since ties were now possible, each judge scored each chef's dishes on a 20-point scale. If the judges were deadlocked 2–2, the first tiebreaker was total points. If the point total was also level, the chefs would immediately begin an overtime period, with a new theme ingredient and only 30 minutes to complete their dishes. The overtime aired as a separate episode. On one occasion, the judges deadlocked 2–2 and on points after the overtime; the host Takeshi Kaga then declared both the Iron Chef and his challenger as winners.


List of Iron Chefs

These are the Iron Chefs who have appeared on the show (some have retired and have been replaced by successor iron chefs):

Notable Judges

Diehard fans note that a given show will be greatly influenced by the lineup of judges, which changes from show to show. A list of some of the more memorable judges includes:

(Please note that these names are not in the traditional Japanese style [i.e. family name first] but have been Romanized.)

  • Asako Kishi , aka the "East German Judge", a food critic and nutritionist
  • Shinichiro Kurimoto , politician (lower house member)
  • Chai Lam , VP of Golden Harvest
  • Kazuko Hosoki , a fortune teller
  • Korn, a rap artist

Show staff

  • Kenji Fukui , Announcer
  • Dr. Yukio Hattori, Commentator
  • Shinichiro Ota , Kitchen Reporter

Broadcast History

The stage setting for the show, "Kitchen Stadium " (キッチンスタジアム), the high-quality (and sometimes very expensive) ingredients used in the cooking battles, and Kaga's extravagant costumes required the show to have a budget far higher than that of most other cooking shows. Aired as a prime-time TV show, the series lasted for six years, with the final episode broadcast in September of 1999.

For the show's grand finale, the Iron Chefs faced off against each other, and the final winner was dubbed the "King of Iron Chefs". The ultimate victor in this contest was Iron Chef French, Hiroyuki Sakai. A special reunion episode of the show was produced and broadcast in 2001.

The show is presented in the US on the Food Network, dubbed and/or subtitled into English.

Related Shows

The UPN network in the US presented two one hour episodes of Iron Chef USA hosted by William Shatner around Christmas of 2001. These shows were not a success. This may be because the show focused little on cooking—a major part of the Japanese program. The show had a small audience section in bleachers. The audience yelled relentlessly during the show (sounding much like a sports audience), Shatner walked around the kitchen sampling the more expensive items, the chefs refused to say what they were doing, and the cameras rarely showed the food preparation.

In 2004, Food Network announced that they would show an Iron Chef special, called "Iron Chef America : Battle of the Masters", featuring Sakai and Morimoto dueling with American Iron Chefs Bobby Flay , Mario Batali, and Wolfgang Puck, all Food Network personalities and renowned American celebrity chefs. (Morimoto and Flay battled in two previous Iron Chef specials that were made after the original series aired.) The specials featured fellow Food Network personality Alton Brown as the announcer and Mark Dacascos, the nephew of Takeshi Kaga, playing the role of The Chairman.

The show received high ratings and rave reviews, and in October 2004, Food Network began filming weekly episodes to premiere in January 2005 . Some changes were made to the show, most notably replacing Puck with Morimoto as an Iron Chef, and the filming location was moved from Los Angeles to New York City.

External links

Last updated: 11-08-2004 00:12:20