Iron Chef and Beard Foundation Awards: Spilled Milk #27
The best food competition show is back.
The best food competition show is back.
“Iron Chef: Quest For an Iron Legend”, the new, super-sized, double-your-pleasure-double-your-fun, fast-paced, hold-on-to-your seat “Iron Chef” makes its debut Wednesday, June 15th on Netflix.
The best TV food competition show , the one that started it all, was the OG Japanese “Iron Chef” that debuted in 1993, a Fuji Television production. (Its Japanese name translated literally as "Ironmen of Cooking.”) Timed cooking battles, themed ingredients, and a winking self awareness were the pillars of that show. Amazing food was prepared throughout the series and a household name here in America was also “birthed" there: In 1998, Masaharu Morimoto, became an Iron Chef, then made the leap to America and well, the rest is history.
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The host Takeshi Kaga was known as Chairman Kaga and started the show with a nod to Rimbaud by saying, “If memory serves me right”—and of course kicked off the competition with the now famous phrase, “allez cuisine!”
The show featured regular commentators who broke down what was happening in the kitchen for the audience as well as guest commentators who were also judges. Together they all provided wisdom, background info and context for the audience. The show started with three Iron Chefs, soon expanded to four and as several retired they were succeeded by new Iron Chefs.
I am beyond humbled and grateful to have judged several battles in Kitchen Stadium on the Food Network’s version of the show, and battled alongside my friend Iron Chef Morimoto against Bobby Flay and Marcela Valladolid. That’s a story for another day, perhaps in my memoir because Battle Sea Whistle Salmon was a wild experience for me in many ways.
I have devoured Iron Chef content for decades, and so when I got the call that the producers wanted me to be a recurring judge on the new Netflix Iron Chef, I jumped at the opportunity. With the new cast (with some old faces) and a brand new outlook from the producers, this is the greatest version of this show I have ever seen. I hope you love it as much as I do.
A huge shoutout to Eytan and Daniel for asking me to participate, to Gavin his superb production contributions, for Alton, Kristen, Nilou, Mark, Marcus, Curtis, Dominique, Ming and Gabriella and all the other chefs and an AMAZING crew, I am so grateful to you all.
I want to know what you think of "Iron Chef: Quest for an Iron Legend.” Let me know and let’s talk more about it.
Last night, as I write this, the James Beard Foundation Awards took place in Chicago.
Congrats to all the nominees and winners in the media, chef and restaurant categories. I loved seeing you all and being a part of the festivities. The JBFAs took a lot of heat over the last few years, and NO ONE, and I mean no group, industry or association that I’m aware of, took a deep hard look at themselves and fundamentally changed the way they do things faster or better than the JBF. This past weekend proved it. We awarded medals and nominations to the most diverse, inclusive and equitable group of food folks in our history. Full stop. Check out all of what took place here on the JBF site. My favorite moments are the same every year: The Leadership awards, as well as the Humanitarian of the Year and Lifetime Achievement awards.
Grace Young won Humanitarian of the Year, and as someone who knows this amazing powerhouse, I am not exaggerating when I say she did more to help more of America’s Chinatowns then anyone I know and did as much as anyone to help with the AAPI hate crisis that we are living through. She is inspiring, and her leadership is without peer.
Martin Yan received the Lifetime Achievement award, and he and I hugged it up and cried together back stage. I wouldn’t be doing what I do if it wasn’t for Martin, the most passionate chef on the planet.
At the time when it was just Julia, Graham Kerr and Martin on TV, he yearned for more, finally breaking out of the kitchen to tell stories and have adventures alongside the food he was eating and creating. He was the first. And he is still going strong! This award is long overdue, and with all the talk about food/travel TV and the legends on whose shoulders I stand, you have to talk about Martin Yan first.