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TELEVISION REVIEW

Iron Chef USA

Cheap Forgery of Original; Shatner Doesn’t Help

By Nicholas O. Sidelnik

staff writer

On November 16, Iron Chef USA, America’s answer to the hit Japanese culinary competition show Iron Chef, made its debut on UPN. For those of you who have been living under a rock for the last 3 years, Iron Chef features chefs from all around the world who come to test their cooking skill against one of four Iron Chefs, masters of their respective cuisines. One hour is given for each chef to create a world-class meal using a theme ingredient, which the chefs only discover once the show has begun. The finished meals are then tasted by a panel of four judges, who judge the meal based on originality, presentation, and taste.

Introduced by psychedelic special effects, Iron Chef USA was more like a rowdy WWF match than a respectable and exciting culinary show. Kitchen Stadium was filled with poster-waving, obnoxious sports fans that even did the wave. The original Iron Chef is much more low-key, which helps to uphold the show’s dignity.

The show was led by The Chairman (host), William Shatner, who stood no chance of equaling his Japanese counterpart, Chairman Kaga. Kaga wore his Renaissance wear with class, whereas Shatner’s clothes simply made him look fat and silly. The original Iron Chef was dramatic, but not as over-the-top as Shatner was. Never failing to deliver the dramatic Star Trek pause, Shatner continued his tradition of poor acting.

Iron Chef USA had the wrong idea with its commentators. The original Iron Chef had a culinary expert who spoke about cooking with expert knowledge. The commentators on Iron Chef USA were sports commentators who appeared to have taken a crash course on cooking an hour before taping. They used a TV pen to show the kitchen as if it were a football play, and showed instant replays of people taking bites of food. The commentators were also much too intrusive on the chef’s work. They interrupted to ask pointless questions such as what they used to cut a crab shell (the answer: a knife).

The judges were a small improvement from the rest of the show. Two of the judges were actors, just as in the original Iron Chef. The other two judges did not deserve to be at that dinner table. Bruce Filanch, star of Hollywood squares! A Playboy model! The selection of judges made me sick.

Another crucial aspect of the original Iron Chef was the dubbed voices. They gave the show an exotic flavor and a pinch of humor, like a kung fu movie. Iron Chef USA, needless to say, lacked these components and as a result made the show turn out to be somewhat bland and undistinguished.

The quality of challenger was also decidedly lower on Iron Chef USA. The challenger, Kerry Simon, was known as the “Rock ‘N Roll Chef”. True to character, he entered Kitchen Stadium on a motorcycle. The original Iron Chef had challengers humbly walk into the arena to moderate applause. This challenger had the nerve to answer a cell phone call in the middle of the battle. Originally a musician who previously worked at Little Caesar’s, he was not a worthy adversary and clearly struggled against the Iron Chef American, Todd English, a Boston food celebrity and owner of the Olives and Kingfish Hall restaurants. English is definitely an excellent chef, and deserves better than this.

If this is the best we can do to match the original Iron Chef, then I am embarrassed. Do the show justice! The XFL was a better idea than this. I predict that this show will be canceled after one season.