Eat Random

The idea for this blog is to blog about everything I think about food and food culture. I'll tell you what I like to eat, where I like to eat it and if I thought it was good or if I thought it was crap. My thoughts about food could go anywhere. Hey if you don't like it go blog at

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Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Food TV: Next Iron Chef Superchef Battle

It's likely that if you are reading this blog that you are also someone who watches a fair amount of Food Network.  I know I do.  Sometimes I'll even watch shows on Food Network that are so crappy I can't believe they aren't part of the NBC primetime lineup.  I mean can somebody give Whitney Cummings a cooking show already?  In any case, the most recent phenomenon I've been sucked into is this years edition of Next Iron Chef. 

I've written before about how I believe, that despite Alton Brown's presence, Iron Chef America is a poor imitation of a wonderfully quirky Japanese cooking competition show from the 90s.  The American version uses "secret ingredients" that are far too boring (How will these chefs ever use a crazy wacky ingredient like CORN in a series of dishes???? They aren't superheroes!) and has "Iron Chefs" that I don't find that interesting.  Food Network must have realized some of these problems and addressed them by bringing some new life into the show by having a competition series where the winner would join the cast.  This is all well and good, but after the first 2 or 3 seasons of Next Iron Chef someone must have realized that no one knows any of these alleged "superior" chefs.  Food Network's solution was to have this season of NIC be comprised of competitors that all have a built in audience either from appearances on their own Food Network shows or other high profile cooking competitions such as Top Chef.

So far I have to say it's successful.  Food Network viewers already know a lot of the backstories/resumes of the competitors and likely have a rooting interest.  I also know that a lot of the people on this show have more going for them than just "I've been on Food Network".  There are no Rachel Rays or Guy "The Bold Bad Boy" Fieris here. Instead we get Anne Burrell, Robert Irvine, Alex Guarnaschelli, Marcus Samuelson, and Michael Chiarello just to name a few.  These muthas can cook.  Food Network has also gone to an hour format instead of 90 minutes which makes for better pacing.  Also of note is the fact that each episode consists of 2 challenges.  Instead of a reward challenge and an elimination challenge this format has the 2 worst dishes in the first round going to a 30 minute elimination cook-off.  I find that much more compelling.  It's also on every Sunday night so it's a good little bit of escapist television that us battle weary Colts fans are looking for after watching our weekly butt kicking.

Image of NIC cast courtsey of


IndianapolisEater said...

I agree and I like this version of Next Iron Chef. I only watched one or two episodes of the old versions because I had no idea who any of the chefs were, but I know almost all of them on this version and that definitely makes it more watchable.

On this version, I especially enjoy how much of a princess Geoffrey Zakarian is. It cracks me up.

I'm not sure who my favorite chef is yet, but I know one thing: I want Alex Guarnaschelli gone fast. I don't like her on chopped and I don't like her on this show.

Tom H said...

IE, I feel the same way about Alex G. There's some kind of personality clash going on there - I feel the same way about Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa (if you will).

I'm definitely a fan of the show - it is so much better than the next food network star that it ain't even funny. And Random Dude, I think you make some good points about the tweaks the network has made to the format.

Pro Chuck Hughes over here, so I hope he wins. Anyone but Guy Fieri in Drag (that would be Anne).

Brent said...

You guys are proving my point about viewers can have a rooting interest this year. As for me I don't dislike Alex G as much as other people. Chuck is probably still my favorite though. I'm hoping we get some clever ingredients and clever challenges in upcoming episodes.