Iron Chef Showdown premiere: Thanksgiving leftovers transformed


Only one chef will reign supreme in the Iron Chef Showdown premiere. While three chefs entered Kitchen Stadium, one chef earned the Thanksgiving leftovers crown.

Food Network launched its newest Iron Chef series, Iron Chef Showdown, with a Thanksgiving themed episode. The Iron Chef Showdown premiere was a little different from the favorite Iron Chef series. This new series has the show broken into two parts. In the first battle, two chefs compete to win the right to face an Iron Chef. The second battle has the challenger faceoff against an Iron Chef.

Before going into episode specifics, this new format is good and bad. The extra battle gives some other chefs great exposure. While foodies might know Chef Kerney and Chef Autry, or have even eaten at their restaurants, some other viewers may not.

Iron Chef Showdown premiere, Thanksgiving leftovers, photo from Food Network

The first challenge, the Chairman’s challenge, offers little room for error. Highlighting a secret ingredient, in a single dish, in just 30 minutes is a tall challenge. Execution, flavor and creativity are all key. But, the chefs need to know their audience. Since Alton Brown is the sole judge, these chefs have to impress Alton, which isn’t an easy task.

The second challenge, the Secret Ingredient Challenge, is reminiscent of the classic Iron Chef format. This new version does bring back the first dish within 20 minutes requirement, which was added in recent years.

In this Iron Chef Showdown premiere episode, there wasn’t as much food background during the main challenge. Previously, Alton would give all types of food facts, history, tidbits, as the chefs cooked. Maybe because the show is split into two challenges, the Alton fun facts had to be cut down. Maybe other episodes have more of these facts.

Iron Chef Showdown premiere, Thanksgiving leftovers, photo from Food Network

Lastly, the judging is different in Iron Chef Showdown Secret Ingredient Challenge. Only two judges rate the five dishes. Alton, not the Chairman, oversees the judging. (The Chairman really isn’t in this show except for the first couple of minutes). Previously, the three judge panel allowed for more opinions and commentary. Alton does a great job of adding a few zingers, but it was a little one note. (Side note – not sure why Food Network kept an episode featuring John Besh, but that’s another topic).

Enough background, foodies want to talk about food.

The Chairman’s Battle had Chef Matthew Kerney against Chef Lindsay Autry. Their secret ingredient was corn. With all types of corn on the altar, the key was to highlight corn in many ways. With only 30 minutes, each chef needed to showcase corn and make it the dish’s star.

Iron Chef Showdown premiere, Thanksgiving leftovers, photo from Food Network

Each chef, on their own, with no sous chefs in this battle, had a tall task. Chef Autry used halibut as her protein. The blank slate fish could lend itself to lots of corn flavor. She wanted to create a succotash, but time was not on her side.

Chef Kerney used lobster to highlight the corn. Even though corn was the secret ingredient, all components needed to be cooked well. Chef Kerney got great corn flavor into the lobster but his lobster was slightly over cooked.

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In the end, Chef Autry’s lack of seasoning on the blank slate halibut was her downfall. While neither dish was perfect, Chef Kerney did a better job showcasing the corn. Chef Kerney moved on to battle an Iron Chef.

The Secret Ingredient Challenge, or the classic Iron Chef battle, had two reveals. First, the challenger learned his opponent. Bobby Flay was the Iron Chef going into battle. The second reveal, the secret ingredient, was an expected theme, Thanksgiving leftovers.

An interesting piece of Iron Chef trivia, Bobby Flay has never lost a Thanksgiving Iron Chef battle. Would Chef Flay continue that tradition?

Iron Chef Showdown premiere, Thanksgiving leftovers, photo from Food Network

The secret ingredient, Thanksgiving leftovers, wasn’t just one dish. It was a smorgasbord of the Thanksgiving feast. Turkey, sweet potatoes, stuffing, cranberries and even green bean casserole could be used. But, these chefs can’t just put together an overstuffed leftovers sandwich. The chefs must creatively transform these Thanksgiving leftovers.

Let’s be honest, Bobby Flay has a huge advantage in these challenges. He is the longest running Iron Chef. He knows how to play the game, which this show is a cooking competition. He might not eat these dishes at home or serve these dishes at his restaurant, but these dishes fit the episode challenge.

Iron Chef Showdown premiere, Thanksgiving leftovers, photo from Food Network

Bobby Flay’s menu featured dishes that play to his strength. Southwestern flavors, bold spices and twists on classic favorites were all featured on his menu. Chef Flay presented a turkey tostada, sweet potato tamale, sausage stuffing polenta, green bean casserole waffle and a cranberry sauce tiramisu.

The most creative dish was the green bean casserole waffle. The savory waffle did seem to work, but the creativity points were huge. Also, Chef Flay’s dessert was a huge hit. While slightly sweet, the balance of savory notes appealed to everyone.

Chef Kerney’s menu featured a turkey roulette, fried veal brains with stuffing puree, green bean casserole lobster thermidor, rib eye with spinach turkey gravy and a sweet potato soufflé. Chef Kerney’s menu was quite ambitious. His dishes had French inspiration and were quite elevated.

Iron Chef Showdown premiere, Thanksgiving leftovers, photo from Food Network

Attempting a soufflé in Kitchen Stadium was a huge risk. The dish, although with a little hiccup, was a success. Alton wanted some marshmallows, but everyone appreciated the new approach to a Thanksgiving dessert.

Also, Chef Kerney pushed the boundaries with his dishes. While the home cook may not cook veal brains, hopefully that dish encouraged viewers to be try other foods. People shouldn’t be scared to try other food.

Both chefs’ menus were impressive and tasty. Still, Bobby Flay won the Battle Thanksgiving leftovers. Fans could have predicted the outcome based on the judges’ comments. Still, the show was enjoyable to watch.

Next: Holiday Baking Championship, cocktails and candy canes

The biggest takeaway from the Iron Chef Showdown premiere was to be thoughtful in the kitchen. Many people will have lots of Thanksgiving leftovers in a couple of weeks. Why eat a repeat of the Thanksgiving feast night after night? Those left over mashed potatoes can be so much more. Hopefully, fans will use this show as cooking inspiration.

Did you watch the Iron Chef Showdown premiere? What did you think of this new version of Iron Chef? Will you be tuning in again? Share your comments below or tag us on social media using #FoodSided.