I finished watching tonight’s episode of the Food Network’s The Next Iron Chef and I have to say that I find myself a little underwhelmed. Frankly, there is a lot to like about this show and only a little I find compelling. Sadly, the part that I find compelling is just compelling enough to keep me watching.
I think I just find the whole concept rather silly. Despite the fact I am familar with the work of Chefs Sanchez and Symon from previous Food Network shows (primarily Melting Pot), I am finding it hard to take these chefs seriously. While the show is free advertising for each of the chefs’ careers, I have always looked at reality TV to be the domain of the amateur the up-and-comer, and the money-driven. I also think that through the magic of editing, a lot of the chefs are going to get reputations they may not want. (The series has made Aaron Sanchez look both apathetic and whiny, Michael Symon incapable of taking anything seriously, and Chris Costentino look like a real jerk. Though his jerkdom appears to be eclipsed by that of judge Michael Ruhlman, though I think that has more to do with editing.)
Also, despite my love of all things Alton Brown, episode 4’s homage to Good Eats was out of sync with the melodramatic seriousness for which Iron Chef is famous. If we are to believe this show is the passion of a reclusive billionaire in love with food, why is he allowing Brown to have his moment of silliness where he talks about about food preparation while dodging the behinds of airline food workers?
Oh, and didn’t we already see airline food done in Top Chef?
What I am loving is the dishes the are prepared. I am constantly amazed by the quality and the creativity of the chefs. Chef Costentino’s continued references to historical food has me drooling to do research on what the past can teach us about modern food. I have enjoyed the stronger culinary points of veiw offered by Chef Morou and Chef Sanchez. They are making things that are far outside of what I could hope to do given that time frame. Then again, the impossible dish is one thing that Iron Chef brings to the Food Network. Whereas Emeril, Rachel Ray, Brown, Sara Moulton, Bobby Flay, etc. are cooking things that can be repeated (with practice) in a home kitchen, Iron Chef is the domain of the unusual, the outlandish, and the delicious.
I am getting that with The Next Iron Chef and that is why I keep watching. Even if my two favorite chefs have been kicked out of the competition.