The original Iron Chef was reborn last week on Fuji TV. Thirteen years after the Japanese show was pulled off air, the cooking competition came back. Though it looks very similar to its predecessor, there are some notable tweaks, most notably the adoption of the now-famous Western title, Iron Chef (the original was called “Ryori no Tetsujin”).
The Wall Street Journal takes a look back on the show’s evolution from experimental concept to international brand. As Adam Liaw writes, the name change is a clear nod to its American counterpart: Food Network found huge success in repackaging the show for U.S. audiences, helping to launch the careers of celeb chefs such as Morimoto and Bobby Flay.
In the new version, Takeshi Kaga, a.k.a. the “Chairman,” no longer rules the stadium; instead, actor Hiroshi Tamaki oversees a lineup of new Iron Chefs like Yosuke Saga (Iron Chef French), Yuji Wakiya (Iron Chef Chinese), and Jun Kurogi (Iron Chef Japanese). The audience can nominate chefs to “compete against the Iron Chefs for a chance to become an Iron Chef themselves.”
Once a popular show in Japan show circa 1993-1999, “the new Iron Chef simply goes back to the basics of what made it popular in the first place,” says Liaw.
For those of us tiring of nouveau celebrity chefdom, let’s hope someone has the foresight to air this back-to-basics version over here—with ridiculous voice-overs, of course.