Iron Chef Showdown: Alton Brown, the Chairman & the Iron Chefs return


The battle for culinary supremacy is back on the Food Network. Iron Chef Showdown has its premiere date and fans are ready.

For years, Kitchen Stadium has been shuttered. Earlier this year, Iron Chef fans got a glimpse of culinary greatness. As Chef Stephanie Izard emerged as the newest Iron Chef, everyone hoped that Alton, the Chairman and the Iron Chefs would return. The wait is almost over. Iron Chef Showdown premieres on November 8th.

The Food Network recently released details on the new version of Iron Chef, Iron Chef Showdown. This new version seems to take a few cues from Beat Bobby Flay. With a pre-heat type challenge, the Chairman’s Challenge, two challengers face off for the opportunity to take on an Iron Chef.

Host Alton Brown (L) and the Chairman Mark Dacasco, as seen on Iron Chef Showdown, Season 1. from PR Newswire

The new format seems to lose the heart of the original Iron Chef show. Previously, Iron Chef was about culinary creativity. The concept was simple, a secret ingredient, five dishes and 60 minutes. The segments didn’t need production value nor did it need many segments. Fans wanted Alton’s commentary on the food and cooking technique. It was about the food, not the entertainment.

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Food Network concedes that this new version is a “battle a whirlwind of culinary entertainment.” Granted this show isn’t a “how-to”, it should at least talk about food and technique. The only other show that really explains or shares technical knowledge is Best Baker in America.

While this new show borrows some of the original concept, the show seems more about the show that “whose cuisine reigns supreme.” Chefs today are known. They aren’t the hidden figures stuck in the kitchen. Finding an up-and-coming chef is an over statement. With social media accounts, foodies know about the chefs making the delicious cuisine that they crave.

Iron Chef Alex Guarnaschelli during the Iron Chef Challenge, featuring the secret ingredient shrimp, as seen on Iron Chef Showdown, Season 1. from PR Newswire

When Iron Chef America started very few people knew who Bobby Flay was. Today, he is a household name. The same can be said for many of the Iron Chefs. Michael Symon and Alex Guarnaschelli are very popular.

Host Alton Brown (L) with Iron Chef Stephanie Izard, with and Judges Susan Feniger and Jonathan Waxman as Iron Chef Stephanie Izard serves her second dish dish, Pastrami on rye, blood line pastrami, pickled tuna relish, rye croutons and aioli, during the Iron Chef Challenge, secret ingredient, Yellowfin Tuna, as seen on Iron Chef Showdown, Season 1. from PR Newswire

But, it seems that a few Iron Chefs have been dropped from this version. Where’s Geoffrey Zakarian? He was always a formidable opponent in Kitchen Stadium. Granted, Stephanie Izard is a great addition and she brings some new spark to the show. Still, I would have preferred Zakarian to Jose Garces (if you aren’t a fan, you’re probably wondering who he is).

Still, Iron Chef Showdown has a built in audience. Even though it doesn’t have its Sunday night timeslot, the program should do well for Food Network. While it may not produce another huge star, the two up and coming chefs should get a boost to their restaurants. Is that the point of chefs being on television, promotion?

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Hopefully, the secret ingredient challenge refers back to the original show. Granted, people are more food savvy. It might be more difficult to find foods that challenge or push the boundaries. Offal isn’t so awful anymore. Exotic foods and flavors aren’t unusual. Just as long as the show doesn’t use an Impossible Burger, it shouldn’t get foodie backlash.

Iron Chef Showdown premieres on November 8 at 9 p.m. ET. Additionally Iron Chef programming will air before and after the premiere. The first episode will have a Thanksgiving theme.