I am in the process of watching the inaugural episode of The Next Iron Chef and I am not entirely sure what I think. It is not that I am not enjoying the show, but I just do not have a good feeling for what the show is trying to accomplish.
Part of me wonders, what the chefs on this show want from being on it. Is it really the pinnacle of chefdom to be on Iron Chef? If so, where’s Thomas Keller? Where’s Jacques Pepin? Where’s Todd English? Other the Alton Brown, are any James Beard Award winners on the show? Also, every chef in the contest was, I believe, either an Iron Chef America competitor or a Food Network host which means that they are invested in being TV chefs, not necessarily chefs. Not that this is a huge issue, I would gladly dine in Michael Symon or Aaron Sanchez restaurant any day, but again I ask what is the motivation? Is being on The Next Iron Chef good enough exposure to increase their stature or is being an Iron Chef worth it? I am not sure, but my guess would have been no until I saw Michael Ruhlman was a judge.
The second thing that strikes me about the show is that unlike most Food Network programs, this one is not geared towards the home cook. I realize there is a lot of pageantry in Iron Chef, so this should not be too surprising, but it stands in sharp contrast to programs like the The Next Food Network Star. Still, coming off Top Chef, I felt comfortable with dishes that take longer to list the ingredients than they take to eat.
I’ll keep watching and hope that I get more into it, but I think ultimately, this show may be a miss.