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they're more like can openers than iron chefs
February 20, 2008 11:47 AM   Subscribe

"Iron Chef America is more bogus than even I had imagined."

Iron Chef America is a strange beast. The trans-Pacific knockoff of a beloved and quirky Japanese cooking game show (wikipedia) didn't have a very successful first attempt at localization. The current incarnation seems to have ironed out many of the original kinks, even though it seemed like something wasn't quite right.

previously discussed on MeFi: 1, 2, 3 (also mentioned above), and 4.

[via Serious Eats]
posted by heeeraldo (128 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

 
Like a lightbulb coming on over our heads, we realized that the chefs had known the identity of the main ingredient all along, just as they had known ahead of time which Iron Chef would be paired with the challenger.

Shocking! Or the other thing.
posted by smackfu at 11:54 AM on February 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


Yawn.
posted by zeoslap at 11:55 AM on February 20, 2008


Reality show FAKE! Film at 11:00.
posted by spock at 11:57 AM on February 20, 2008


But Alton Brown comes out smelling like roses in a pork roast demi-glaze. Naturally.
posted by GuyZero at 12:00 PM on February 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


American TV Doesn't Show Anything Unscripted, film at 11. (And that includes the films at 11, film at 11:30)
posted by DU at 12:02 PM on February 20, 2008 [2 favorites]


Maybe if we bash this show enough, Alton Brown will make a MeFi account and set the record straight. Who's with me to lure this much-praised geek to "our little thing"?
posted by fijiwriter at 12:05 PM on February 20, 2008 [6 favorites]


FACT: The Lady of the Refrigerator on Good Eats doesn't actually live in the refrigerator. And that's not even Alton Brown's house, it's a set!!!

FACT: Mark (The Chairman's 'Nephew') Dacascos isn't really related to Scott Wolf!!!

FACT: Barefoot Contessa's Ina Garten is not a companion to or delegate of any empire... and has been know to wear shoes!!!

FACT: Paula Deen knows she sucks!!!
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 12:05 PM on February 20, 2008 [9 favorites]


{waves arms open} Tonight's secret ingredient...{waves arms open}...COOKED RESULTS!!!
posted by zerobyproxy at 12:06 PM on February 20, 2008 [7 favorites]


I don't like any TV chef who doesn't shout at other chefs.
posted by grubi at 12:07 PM on February 20, 2008 [2 favorites]


So, this guy went to a taping and then wrote about it. Did he ever actually try to do some real journalism, if factual purity (as opposed to verissimilitude, with which he has a major beef) is so tantamount to him?

Honestly, I don't care. Whenever I watch Iron Chef America I'm simply conducting an arm-chair contest in my own mind with whatever it is I would do, and I usually beat the Iron Chefs mentally. Especially Cat Cora.
posted by DenOfSizer at 12:09 PM on February 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


Second the yawn. I remember seeing a 'behind the scenes' special about iron chef on the food network which admitted that the secret ingredient was revealed ahead of time and that the dishes cooked during the hour were only for presentation (the many close up shots of each dish), while the rest were cooked again before judging. It's interesting to have a spectator's view of the whole procedure, but even more hyped, swollen, and false, I think, is the author's language in his attempt to make the article come off as a shocking expose rather than something that could be gleamed off of wikipedia. Also, was that a Marquis de Sade reference? Come on.
posted by farishta at 12:10 PM on February 20, 2008 [2 favorites]


Fijiwriter- I agree wholeheartedly.

DenOfSizer- I do the exact same thing.
posted by farishta at 12:12 PM on February 20, 2008


Yeah, the "secrets" were all in the behind the scenes special they aired a while back.
posted by stopgap at 12:14 PM on February 20, 2008


The point might be redundant but the article itself did read like curiously good fiction.

Whether it's Journalism is questionable but as an entertaining look behind the scenes, I give it a 7.
posted by socalsamba at 12:15 PM on February 20, 2008


Oh, Village Voice, is this what you've come to? Exposes on American reality TV? How I used to look forward to the paper each week... (Robert Sietsema is generally OK, though. He's a restaurant critic, not a traditional "journalist.")
posted by mrgrimm at 12:15 PM on February 20, 2008


The really shocking thing is that this worthless "expose" was the cover story for this week's issue of the once-respected Village Voice.
posted by Awkward Philip at 12:16 PM on February 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


This is the kind of thing that happens when you take Shatner out of the mix.
posted by JanetLand at 12:16 PM on February 20, 2008 [2 favorites]


American TV Doesn't Show Anything Unscripted, film at 11.

Oh yeah, what about

No, wait, what about

Oh you're right.

I never got Iron Chef anyway. I like Top Chef though. Expose, anyone?
posted by poppo at 12:17 PM on February 20, 2008


The only saving grace were the references to "Fijianese bottled water"

I am SO using that in everyday language
posted by Big_B at 12:19 PM on February 20, 2008


I always thought it was Fijian.
posted by arcticwoman at 12:23 PM on February 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


I thought everyone knew these "secrets" already.

- The challenger has to pick the Iron Chef ahead of time, because those chefs have other jobs, shows, and schedules to work around. How could that ever happen spontaneously?

- Of course the judges aren't eating the dishes made in Kitchen Stadium during the show. You don't need to attend a taping to know that: there are three judges, and the chefs never make three judges' worth of food in an hour.

- Wait, they know the ingredient ahead of time? Well, you never see them conference about what to make on the show, so NO SHIT REALLY WOW.

If there's anyone who watches the show and doesn't realize this stuff, they probably aren't reading the Voice to begin with.
posted by Mikey-San at 12:27 PM on February 20, 2008 [2 favorites]


Sausages, laws, TV shows ...
posted by madamjujujive at 12:28 PM on February 20, 2008 [3 favorites]


Maybe if we bash this show enough, Alton Brown will make a MeFi account and set the record straight. Who's with me to lure this much-praised geek to "our little thing"?

I second the motion!
posted by notoriousbhc at 12:30 PM on February 20, 2008


Yeah, that's like saying Americanese.
posted by ninjew at 12:31 PM on February 20, 2008


It seems VV has taken the old "if it bleeds it leads" and extended it to something as innocuous as Iron Chef America. OMG, they don't serve the same dishes that were made during the battle?!? Well, yeah, watch the show a few times and notice how only one of each dish is completed within the 60 minutes. The other 3 or 4 have to come from somewhere. OMG, they know the ingredient before the battle starts?!? If the author of this article had done some research (or, at bare minimum, read the Wikipedia article), he would've known that the chefs are given a list of 5 possible ingredients weeks before the show so they can order special ingredients. But I guess VV figures that snark sells more advertising space.

Alternatively, this article (from the comments of the Serious Eats post), is much more informative and enjoyable.
posted by slogger at 12:31 PM on February 20, 2008 [2 favorites]


Er, what Mikey-San said.
posted by slogger at 12:32 PM on February 20, 2008


Dear lord, who didn't know this?
posted by 23skidoo at 12:33 PM on February 20, 2008


This does not come as a surprise and it in no way diminishes the hetero man-crush I have for Alton Brown.

Doo do do doo doo doo do doot doot doot.
posted by bondcliff at 12:34 PM on February 20, 2008 [8 favorites]


Porn presents itself as reality, but it is not. When the plumber shows up and the housewife jumps on him, she's met him previously because he is an actor, not a plumber.

Food Porn is similar. Please adjust your expectations accordingly. Thank you.
posted by davejay at 12:37 PM on February 20, 2008 [10 favorites]


"...fidgeting guests sipping Fijianese bottled water."

Give me back my water, which you have sullied by doling it out at your fake contest.
posted by fijiwriter at 12:39 PM on February 20, 2008 [5 favorites]


I liked the article. I could totally picture the depressing atmosphere, the fog, the anticlimactic lameness of it all. I kept reading, wondering how much more pathetic can this show taping get?! I remember being a kid and always wanting to be in the game show audience. This is the modern day equivalent and it's dreary as hell is hot. I think that's the last place I'd want to be, kid or not.
posted by iamkimiam at 12:42 PM on February 20, 2008


This article was probably my only real introduction to this show. I have seen full episodes of the American version and tiny pieces of the Japanese (dubbed) version. I simply don't get the appeal. That's not to say it has none, but it doesn't appeal to me.

My biggest irritation is in the idea of taking something so subjective and attempting to give it black-and-white substance as to pronounce winner/loser. For me, it's like a single restaurant review (or movie review, what have you) that utterly and sweepingly pronounces the restaurant cream or crap. Perhaps there is a bit more nuance here. Everything has good and bad and I just don't have a lot of confidence in trying to turn taste into a Yes or No proposition.

But, hey, I 'do' nuance.

As to the expose, I like reading these kinds of things because they're entertaining. But, no, it's not surprising. Heck, I'm not even sure Alton Brown really exists. I mean, I think he does, but I've never seen him personally. If he would simply present himself at my house and allow me to rifle through his identification cards then I'd know! ;-) Unless he faked them... oh...

Allé cuisine, mofos! ;-)
posted by tcv at 12:50 PM on February 20, 2008


That first link is a terrible article.

As mentioned many times above, the shocking revelations were already revealed to all that cared to take notice by investigative journalist Mark Summers on the gritty news magazine Unwrapped (you can find most of this in the Wikipedia article linked above):

1) The US version of the Chairman is *gasp* not really related to the original chairman who was also a fictional character. Is it still exposing something if every aspect involved is admittedly fictitious?

2) The Iron Chef matchups are indeed decided upon in advance...still before they know the secret ingredient. Did they expect Mario Batali and Bobby Flay to waste a day standing in a cloud of fog on the offchance they may be picked by a contestant?

3) The secret ingredient is not exactly secret. They're given a list of five ingredients ahead of time of which one is the secret ingredient. This is exactly how they did it on the original Iron Chef.

4) They have exactly one hour to plate a finished version of each of their dishes (a minimum of 5 dishes is required). After the initial battle is over, they have 45 minutes to plate 4 versions of each of the 5 dishes to be served to the judge.

5) The author of the article was (puzzlingly) afraid that the Iron Chef's food was tasted first, what they considered a huge advantage. A flip of the coin determines who gets to go first, which differs from the original Iron Chef where the Iron Chef was always second, which many considered to their advantage (you taste two great things...you'll probably judge the one you tasted more recently the better one).

6) Both chefs handpick their assistants. Although the time limit hangs over their heads, these are still very much professionals...did they expect screaming and weeping over having to cook something in under an hour?

There's barely a paragraph in that article that can't be explained away by simple knowledge of how television production works, let alone the production of Iron Chef America. Half the complaints can be leveled against the original Iron Chef and they still aren't valid.

I'm kind of ashamed I spent this much time defending a show I watch maybe once every 6 months. I watch Good Eats all the time, though, so maybe I'm just defending the honor of Alton Brown. He deserves it.
posted by unsupervised at 12:52 PM on February 20, 2008 [9 favorites]


Did they expect Mario Batali and Bobby Flay to waste a day standing in a cloud of fog on the offchance they may be picked by a contestant?

I am picturing this, and I like what I see. Batali sings while he waits, like a gondolier; Flay alternately preens and scowls.
posted by uncleozzy at 1:01 PM on February 20, 2008 [21 favorites]


Used to love the japanese version, but I've only seen one episode of the American Iron Chef.

The secret ingredient was "sugar".

I remain unimpressed.
posted by ook at 1:06 PM on February 20, 2008


The VV article on my browser includes ad for "420 DATING!" from potpartner.com.

Is there any dignity left at that paper that hasn't been fired, sold off, or shipped back to the mothership in Phoenix?
posted by dw at 1:06 PM on February 20, 2008


What, you thought the things you see on TV are real? Or, what everyone else said.
posted by breaks the guidelines? at 1:10 PM on February 20, 2008


Heck, I'm not even sure Alton Brown really exists.

I met him on a book tour (I think for his second one). He was clearly exhausted, apparently had been shooting some scenes in Seattle that day, and was just getting over a cold, but he still answered questions for half an hour, signed every book, posed for every picture, and generally was a most agreeable gentleman for the 100 or so who showed up at the signing that evening.

So, yes, tcv, there is an Alton Brown.
posted by dw at 1:16 PM on February 20, 2008 [2 favorites]


I remember being a kid and always wanting to be in the game show audience.

When I was a kid growing up in New England in the 70s there was a locally produced bowling show called Candlepins for Cash, hosted by a guy named Bob Gamere. We watched that show every night during dinner on our little black and white TV. They had the name of the show, “Candlepins for Cash”, in big letters on the wall in the background. I still remember my dad bringing home our first color TV and seeing those letters, those big, amazing, rainbow letters in color for the first time. It was like when Dorothy landed in OZ and everything was suddenly full of life. The lettering on that wall was something that existed in some magical world. I could only assume they were made out of some futuristic material found only in Roswell, New Mexico.

When I was in first grade my mom was a contestant on the show and I got to sit in the audience. I discovered those letters were made from corrugated cardboard, stuck to the wall with scotch tape.

I think that was the moment I became the cynical douchebag I am today. Entertainment is not to be trusted.
posted by bondcliff at 1:17 PM on February 20, 2008 [11 favorites]


They talked about most of this stuff on the behind the scenes episode of Iron Chef America. Anyway, you'd have to be stupid not to know this already.
posted by puke & cry at 1:21 PM on February 20, 2008


TOTALLY WEAK.
(I didn't know VV sucked so much...)

1. Anyone interested in the show even remotely knows all of this, and none of it impacts is watchability
2. Iron Chef, even the watered down american version, is still damn awesome
3., 4. & 5. Mario Batali
6. Marimoto was/is BAD ASS (go to his resturaunt!)
7. I miss chairman kaga, the pepper biting and I wish they would bring in Chen Kenichi or Sakai, but ill still gladly watch cat cora or even that bastard flay tear up california upstarts ALL DAY LONG
8. C'mon, didja see the Batali + Ray vs. Flay and Giada??
9. <3 Food Porn
posted by [son] QUAALUDE at 1:21 PM on February 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


Nothing in this was surprising other than the fact that they go to the trouble to use stand-ins for the non-challenged Iron Chefs. I always assumed they edited in a shot of the absent Iron Chef. I mean, why not?

I'm also surprised they made the audience sit there while shooting the surprise ingredient, etc.

Everything else in this story can be chalked up to the writer's own ignorance and credulousness - if he believed all the illusions to begin with, some intellectual faculties critical to journalism are missing. If you have to be sitting in the studio to realize the show format doesn't actually fit into an hour and that the dishes must be pre-planned....

It's true how the Village Voice has fallen. I am old enough to remember when it was required reading, and fairly hard-hitting, serious, edgy stuff.
posted by Miko at 1:23 PM on February 20, 2008


"Heck, I'm not even sure Alton Brown really exists."

Oh he does...he does. In fact, he's supposed to be doing a book-signing tour that retraces his second "Feasting on Asphalt". Since he spent some time in Mississippi, I hope to track him down and pester him with our Iron Chef queries.
posted by fijiwriter at 1:26 PM on February 20, 2008


The show works because the decision to make Alton Brown the announcer was inspired. He is the real star of the show.
posted by Class Goat at 1:32 PM on February 20, 2008 [2 favorites]


I think that food porn would look something like this:

Giada de Laurentiis and, let's say, Morimoto walk into a room and, as always happens, immediately strip and begin fucking.

After a few minutes, Morimoto gets a stupefied look on his face and stops in mid-thrust.

Then Giada opens her GIANT FREAKY mouth, and keeps opening it, and opens it some more, until she takes his entire cranium into her mouth and devours it in one... two... thrrrrrree bites.

There is blood.

Then, Morimoto's decapitated body resumes the old in-out in-out until it collapses on her from blood loss, and she stalks the kitchen like an enraged, bloody panther until she throws Rachel Ray into a comically large meat grinder. There is more blood, and much rejoicing.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 1:35 PM on February 20, 2008 [20 favorites]


This was no contest—it was a culinary fait accompli.

Metafilter?
posted by oncogenesis at 1:39 PM on February 20, 2008


Two points: first, all of the supposed fakery of Iron Chef America (non-secret ingredient, non-choice of opposing Iron Chef, etc.) was true of the Japanese version as well. Second, don't make the mistake of choosing your favorite show--or really any show you're emotionally invested in--for your first live TV taping.
posted by angrynerd at 1:42 PM on February 20, 2008


Paula Deen knows she sucks!!!

having worked on her tv show for over a year a couple years back, I can tell you with authority that she knows nothing of the kind. she adores her food, and gets a chip on her shoulder when people try to tell her how other chefs cook and the like.

also, her food is awesome provided you're willing to enjoy exceptionally fatty food. if that's not your cup of tea then, yeah, you have every reason not to like her food. but back when I didn't give a shit about calories we used to get the leftovers from the set and even as left overs that shit made tummies happy.
posted by shmegegge at 1:49 PM on February 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


Then Giada opens her GIANT FREAKY mouth

She does have a giant, freaky alien head, which I gleefuly point out to my girlfriend's dad every time he points her out as the apex of female perfection, but I happened to glance at the TV last weekend while my mother was watching some show with Giada in Miami. On the beach. In a bikini. I know, I know, boyzone, but ... christ on a cracker.
posted by uncleozzy at 1:52 PM on February 20, 2008


Scandal: Alton Brown injecting raw bacon grease directly into his veins.
Not scandal: Iron Chef being faked.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:55 PM on February 20, 2008


How can bacon grease be raw? Don't you have to cook the bacon to get the grease? :-P
posted by slogger at 1:58 PM on February 20, 2008


"Heck, I'm not even sure Alton Brown really exists."

I have a picture of him hugging me. He is adorable.

However, he spelled my name wrong.

Would it be wrong to get it changed to match his spelling?
posted by jacquilynne at 2:00 PM on February 20, 2008 [2 favorites]


Did they expect Mario Batali and Bobby Flay to waste a day standing in a cloud of fog on the offchance they may be picked by a contestant?

Fucking Bobby Flay can stand in a fucking cloud all day and he can fucking well like it.

I know what you did, Flay. Fucker.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 2:00 PM on February 20, 2008 [8 favorites]


Is it me, or does Bobby Flay ever win on his own show? I've never seen him win anything on the Food Network.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:06 PM on February 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


He's 13-28-1 according to wikipedia.
posted by puke & cry at 2:08 PM on February 20, 2008


Robert Sietsema is generally OK, though. He's a restaurant critic, not a traditional "journalist."

Sietsema and Dan Savage are the only things in the Voice worth reading these days, and Dan's a fair bit past his sell-by date now.

I am not a foodie in any way, shape or form, but I love to read Sietsma's accounts of scarfing up a pound of raw whale blubber that he's managed to locate in some hole in the wall eatery in a far flung outpost of Red Hook that's populated exclusively by Brooklyn eskimos.

This piece sucked though.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 2:13 PM on February 20, 2008


How can bacon grease be raw? Don't you have to cook the bacon to get the grease? :-P

No, Blazecock is talking about RAW bacon grease - not that shit you'll find downtown that's cut every which way with vegetable oil of all stripes, probably mixed with a broken broom handle in a dirty bathtub.
posted by prostyle at 2:14 PM on February 20, 2008 [3 favorites]


Now, our game shows are a little different from yours. Your shows reward knowledge; we punish ignorance.
posted by pepcorn at 2:25 PM on February 20, 2008


Give me back my water, which you have sullied by doling it out at your fake contest.

Hey, if you don't like it, you can go back to Fijiana.
posted by oats at 2:33 PM on February 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


It's always a little annoying when some kid won't shut up about discovering Santa Claus isn't real.
posted by mrmojoflying at 2:34 PM on February 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


Then Giada opens her GIANT FREAKY mouth,

Here's an experiment:

Any time you're in a group of more than, say, 6 people (I choose that number arbitrarily. I don't know how many people this would actually take) and someone mentions a woman who is commonly considered attractive and who is also somewhat famous, look at your watch or cell phone and time how long it is before someone else in the group turns something minor about her into a glaring physical flaw. It's one of my favorite social phenomena. It happens like clockwork, and I absolutely love it because to my mind there simply is not enough scrutiny placed on every physical feature of women in american society today. I really just don't think that women and girls growing up here have enough reason to constantly analyze themselves for the slightest imperfection and subsequently spend every waking moment freaking out about what said imperfections could mean for their value in society.

I happened to glance at the TV last weekend while my mother was watching some show with Giada in Miami. On the beach. In a bikini. I know, I know, boyzone, but ... christ on a cracker.

this is also one of my favorite things. I call it the "Now, I don't want to be an asshole, BUT..." phenomenon. I think it's awesome that people believe that acknowledging that what you're about to do is obnoxious makes it okay to do it anyway. "I know, I know. You hate it when I punch you in the face, but... PUNCH!"

(note: I'm not trying to criticize Xenophobe or uncleozzy. I think they're fine people. I just think that these things we are unfortunately societally trained to do are worth bringing up.)
posted by shmegegge at 2:38 PM on February 20, 2008 [37 favorites]


I just came in here to grieve for the Village Voice. For what it used to be. And lay a flower on its grave, and wipe a tear.

Thanks, I'll be off now.
posted by jokeefe at 2:49 PM on February 20, 2008


Giada de Laurentiis is an alien. Rachel Ray is Alien. Nigella Lawson is a woman.
posted by The Bellman at 2:53 PM on February 20, 2008 [3 favorites]


And in other shocking news, it was revealed today that the outcome of pro wrestling matches is predetermined! In fact, outcomes of subsequent matches are often planned weeks in advance in order to build to a dream match fans want to see!

How could this possibly surprise anyone? Of course it's fake. Haven't they seen the Japanese original? It was even more obviously fake, for example instead of having standins for the chefs that weren't chosen, they'd just use the same footage of them in every episode. It's ENTERTAINMENT. If the revelation that the secret ingredient isn't really a surprise, the Iron Chef isn't chosen right there on the spot, etc. ruins it for you then you're not the sharpest fork in the drawer anyway.

Iron Chef America kinda blows in comparison to the Japanese original anyway. I wish they still showed that. You don't see much octopus ice cream and terrifying eel/squid dishes on the American version.
posted by DecemberBoy at 2:57 PM on February 20, 2008


The secret ingredient was "sugar".

Well, that was a special tag-team holiday dessert battle, so it wasn't really about the ingredient.

Anyways, they're up to 77 episodes, so all the cool foods are already done. A recent episode was "Battle Carrot".
posted by smackfu at 3:00 PM on February 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


My sister was a contestant on Wheel of Fortune, once.

She was bitterly disappointed that all the minor prizes; golf clubs, toaster ovens etc. weren't actually there on display in the studio, and were in fact just played from a video.

TV. Nothing but broken dreams.
posted by Jimbob at 3:04 PM on February 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


It was obvious Iron Chef America was about as real as pro wrestling and roller derby from the very first premier episodes where the new American Iron Chefs (at the time Flay, Batali and Wolfgang Puck) took on their Japanese counterparts and "just happened" to win every battle. At this point, any further evidence that the show is not on the level seems gratuitous.
posted by The Gooch at 3:56 PM on February 20, 2008


It was obvious Iron Chef America was about as real as pro wrestling and roller derby

Wait...yeah, wresting, I know, but roller derby is fake?!
posted by infinitywaltz at 4:03 PM on February 20, 2008


> I think that food porn would look something like this: [...]

The Aristocrats!
posted by jacobian at 4:13 PM on February 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


On the topic of totally over-analyzing the physical attractiveness of female chefs: Nigella Lawson makes me swoon. And, I'd like to point out, I'm totally super gay. Ironically, I can't think of any male tv-chef-personality that I have impure thoughts about. I love me some Alton Brown, but in a aren't-you-adorably-geeky sort of way. But Nigella eyes me (the camera) coyly while dumping another pound of butter into the pan, and my knees get weak. I wonder why that is...
posted by LMGM at 4:26 PM on February 20, 2008 [2 favorites]


Ironically, I can't think of any male tv-chef-personality that I have impure thoughts about.

Not even Emeril? I mean, he only seems borderline retarded.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 4:33 PM on February 20, 2008


The village voice seems to understand my personal demographic's reason for watching iron chef a bit too well..
posted by tehloki at 4:49 PM on February 20, 2008


Ironically, I can't think of any male tv-chef-personality that I have impure thoughts about.

What? I'm about as straight as they come, but even *I'd* sub for Gordon Ramsay. Nigella, on the other hand, is just meh. I'd much rather have me some Fanny.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 5:02 PM on February 20, 2008


I don't really care. Like others I'm just there for the food porn. PLus I've developed a raging crush on judge Karine Bakhoum and on Cat Cora's sous-chef Lorilynn Bauer.
posted by jonmc at 5:19 PM on February 20, 2008


On the plus side, A.B. rocks, and I wouldn't wanna watch an episode of Iron Chef America without him calling the play-by-play. I really enjoy watching Mario Batali cook. I really enjoy watching Bobby Flay get his ass handed to him. (And for the record, Rick Bayless was robbed in his match with Bobby.)

On the minus side, where oh where are the ICA battles where the chef first has to dispatch a secret ingredient that's trying to eat him, sting him, strangle him or otherwise not go gentle into that good night? And could they please, please put Jeffrey Steingarten back under the rock from which he crawled?
posted by deCadmus at 5:30 PM on February 20, 2008 [2 favorites]


jonmc -

I loves me some Cat Cora myself, although her spread in FHM was a bit embarrassing. :)
posted by notoriousbhc at 5:31 PM on February 20, 2008


Cat herself is not my type, although she can definitely cook.
posted by jonmc at 5:33 PM on February 20, 2008


(also, I ate at Bobby Flay's restaurant in the city and while it was delicious, I got some kind of bug and for the next two days had the most expensive pukefest of my life)
posted by jonmc at 5:36 PM on February 20, 2008


Did someone say food porn?
posted by eyeballkid at 5:38 PM on February 20, 2008


What a crappy article. I love how it starts with "In case you've been living under a rock for the last decade or so, here's how the show works". Yeah, it's the reader who is clueless. After this shocking discovery about Iron Chef, and I'm sure we are in for an article or two from the same reporter about how wrestling is fake, people in sports use steroids, and the CIA tortures people.
posted by about_time at 5:45 PM on February 20, 2008


Anyways, they're up to 77 episodes, so all the cool foods are already done. A recent episode was "Battle Carrot".

Even when it's 'Battle Carrot' it's still some exotic gourmet super carrot that grows only is caves in Lower Blecchistan tended by dwarf monks. Screw that noise, anybody can make a good meal with great ingredients. I'm waiting for Battle Spam, Battle Velveeta, Battle Marshmallow Fluff. Makea bacchnalian repast outta that and then I'll be impressed. (I'm not kidding. I actually emailed Food Network about this awile back. No response.)
posted by jonmc at 5:46 PM on February 20, 2008 [11 favorites]


johnmc, I second your nomination for Battle Spam, and can only humbly offer "Battle PB&J" as a response.

And maybe Battle Beanie Weenies.
posted by device55 at 5:48 PM on February 20, 2008 [2 favorites]


The thing I miss from the original Iron Chef is the deep weirdness of having the secret ingrediant be something that had to be attacked with a mallet and killed before cooking. Like deCadmus' comment refers to. Preferably some large armored crustacean. And then it was the "will they make ice cream out of this" question - they still do this on American Iron Chef. But not enough.
Also the chairmain's outfits. Damn, those were fun.

But I'll keep watching as long as Alton Brown is in the mix, he's always fun.

And reality - do we really expect this from any tv these days? I mean, questioning/critiquing a good deal of even the news coverage and what's broadcast as factual documentary is pretty much par for the course.
posted by batgrlHG at 5:52 PM on February 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


And Robert Irvine is a lying sack of shit, too. No OBE for him, that rat bastard.
posted by fixedgear at 5:53 PM on February 20, 2008


I would sincerely like to see John Madden offer color commentary in an ep. I'd watch that.

"You see when food isn't cooked it comes out of the oven raw."
posted by tcv at 5:55 PM on February 20, 2008 [2 favorites]


posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 1:35 PM on February 20 [15 favorites -] Favorite added! [!]

I believe that called "food hentai" by the ...ahem... kids these days.

FUND IT!








also, please no feederism jokes....
posted by [son] QUAALUDE at 5:56 PM on February 20, 2008


^^ relating to food porn

food pr0n

food prawn?


I dont eat seafood!

etc.
posted by [son] QUAALUDE at 5:57 PM on February 20, 2008


I would sincerely like to see John Madden offer color commentary in an ep

why stop there? I say get the ghost of Howard Cosell: "There seems to be trouble at the cutting board. Batali kicks the sous-chef out of the way and grabs the knife. He's chopping away. Will you watch that man ju-LEY-enne! Amazing!"
posted by jonmc at 5:59 PM on February 20, 2008


this is also one of my favorite things. I call it the "Now, I don't want to be an asshole, BUT..." phenomenon. I think it's awesome that people believe that acknowledging that what you're about to do is obnoxious makes it okay to do it anyway. "I know, I know. You hate it when I punch you in the face, but... PUNCH!"

(note: I'm not trying to criticize Xenophobe or uncleozzy. I think they're fine people. I just think that these things we are unfortunately societally trained to do are worth bringing up.)


You know what else I love? Disowning a critical statement immediately after making it by saying that you were only criticizing the general practice, but not the specific individual practicing it.
posted by googly at 6:08 PM on February 20, 2008


this is also one of my favorite things. I call it the "Now, I don't want to be an asshole, BUT..." phenomenon. I think it's awesome that people believe that acknowledging that what you're about to do is obnoxious makes it okay to do it anyway. "I know, I know. You hate it when I punch you in the face, but... PUNCH!"

(note: I'm not trying to criticize Xenophobe or uncleozzy. I think they're fine people. I just think that these things we are unfortunately societally trained to do are worth bringing up.)

You know what else I love? Disowning a critical statement immediately after making it by saying that you were only criticizing the general practice, but not the specific individual practicing it.


you know what else I love? People taking a newborn meme (a memebryo) and beating it to death within a few minutes of it's birth.
posted by jonmc at 6:11 PM on February 20, 2008 [3 favorites]


To anyone who's worked in TV or film, this is old hat. *Most* of the production time is a lot of people waiting around for a smaller group of people getting their job done. Hence all the "bored" looks. I've been an extra in movies and have rubbernecked once or twice at an on location film set, and on one level it's about as exciting as watching the proverbial grass grow.
posted by zardoz at 6:46 PM on February 20, 2008


you know what else I love? People taking a newborn meme (a memebryo) and beating it to death within a few minutes of it's birth.

you know what else I love?
...you.
posted by heeeraldo at 6:51 PM on February 20, 2008


LMGM:

But Nigella eyes me (the camera) coyly while dumping another pound of butter into the pan, and my knees get weak. I wonder why that is...

It's the butter.
posted by Bummus at 6:53 PM on February 20, 2008


you know what else I love?
...you.


well, I can't help being this beautiful, but I'm spoken for.
posted by jonmc at 7:11 PM on February 20, 2008


But Nigella eyes me (the camera) coyly while dumping another pound of butter into the pan,

I saw an episode the other day where she was making some tart or pudding in little ramekins, and she kept going on about how she liked butter for "greasing her ramekins" while the camera lingered lovingly, and not on the food. That show is shameless.

Yeah, I kept watching.
posted by Bookhouse at 7:12 PM on February 20, 2008 [4 favorites]


But Nigella eyes me (the camera) coyly while dumping another pound of butter into the pan,

That's not Nigella, that's Paula Deen! (I actually think Paula is kind of sexy. and the banana pudding ice cream she created on her show when Ben & Jerry's were guests looked awesome).
posted by jonmc at 7:15 PM on February 20, 2008


Of course it's fake!!! You would have to live in lala land to think that show was real.
posted by doug3505 at 7:17 PM on February 20, 2008


Iron Chef is one of those strange things in my life. I really enjoyed the original Japanese television show, really got into it for months and months. I believe I've now seen most of the episodes in rotation. What makes it strange is I recently got myself a little too much attention and discussion because I tore apart a documentary, King of Kong for being faked up and edited beyond reality and, for that matter, ethical bounds. (I'm not self-linking here, as I believe that's not allowed.)

Even the Iron Chef FAQ has been clear for years that the Chairman's an actor, this is a studio, the ingredient list is a short one so it's not a complete surprise, and so on. I don't think anyone watching it would think it was reality, and even with it whittling down an hour of cooking into (roughly) 25 minutes, it's obvious everyone's doing neat stuff. I just always liked that show, and the Japanese version has had additional aspects like an ongoing rivalry with a cooking school, the series of episodes where the Iron Chefs had a losing streak and the Chairman "refused to come out" in shame, and other such "plotlines". It was just a brilliant little cooking show.

The first attempt to bring Iron Chef to America was, to me, everything that can go wrong with television production. It's like they looked at the show and took all the worst elements, stripped off anything too complicated, and then made it brutal, campy and circus-y. I'm all for the use of The Shat as the Chairman (although how often could they keep that going), but the rest of the idiotic attempt to make it into football just fell flat. No expertise, no sense of anything related to the old show's success; it was just another thing with the same name.

When I heard they were rebooting and doing it again, and they chose Alton to be the commentator, I knew they'd thought it through. The original show was loaded with commentary, with interactions, and that was part of the fun. I didn't know Kevin Brauch very well, but once I read up on him I thought he'd be a great floor reporter. And I was delighted to see that was the case. I thought the way they cut stuff together, the cleverness in the editing, and the frentic sense of interaction was just the same as the Japanese version. I was so delighted with this, I actually called the production company's voicemail and left a fan message about how well they'd captured the spirit of the original.

Now, that said, it captures it so well that it suffers from the problem of the original, that is, it is very simply not for everyone. A lot of people see the original, give it the big WTF, and change the channel; that will happen here too. But to me, that's a success. To have something transplanted here and "take root" with any a minimum of changes is rare indeed. The rest is just needless complaining.

As mentioned in this thread before, most of the articles are strange self-discoveries about the nature of shooting any competition on television; I'm glad people are getting an education to this effect, but I don't think we're better for seeing their "class reports" in the paper.
posted by jscott at 7:32 PM on February 20, 2008 [4 favorites]


FACT: Paula Deen knows she sucks!!!

FACT: Paula Deen's restaurant in Savannah, GA, The Lady And Sons is outstanding. It sucks not. She's also an extremely cool lady - the last time I ate there, she was there just hanging out making the rounds around the tables, talking to her customers, not like some "celebrity chef" primadonna (coughFlaycough).
posted by deadmessenger at 7:33 PM on February 20, 2008 [2 favorites]


Chefs [formerly of the Food Network or not] That I Would Totally Do:

1. Nigella Lawson. Twice. With butter.*
2. Anthony Bourdain
3. Gordon Ramsay

* bacon grease would do in a pinch, but I'd be drooling so much I don't think we'd need any.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 7:51 PM on February 20, 2008


Well, what do you know? The cake -was- a lie?
posted by Phalene at 8:24 PM on February 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


fijiwriter: "Maybe if we bash this show enough, Alton Brown will make a MeFi account and set the record straight. Who's with me to lure this much-praised geek to "our little thing"?"

I think the actual topic of the FPP has been pretty much beaten to death at this point, so I'm just chiming in to point out that Brown actually did an 'interview' on Slashdot a few years back, when he was flogging his book, so either he or his publicist are not totally unaware of at least some online forums/communities.

That said, I wouldn't hold your breath.

Plus, I thought a few of his answers were glib and/or failed to take seriously the question -- which is arguably par for the course and fair game for Slashdot, but I couldn't help but be a bit disappointed. (Especially the fairly interesting one about cooking a chicken in lava, which he dismissed as impossible and called the questioner deluded, only to have people post video of it being done. It also led to this MeFi FPP.)
posted by Kadin2048 at 8:46 PM on February 20, 2008


People taking a newborn meme (a memebryo)

Ah, genius.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:05 PM on February 20, 2008


Thank you.

/master thespian
posted by jonmc at 9:11 PM on February 20, 2008


FACT: Paula Deen knows she sucks!!!

>FACT: No she doesn't (Paraphrased)


FACT: Yes. Yes she does. I'm by no means a calorie counter, but this shit's just embarrassingly lazy, even by the Food Network's standards. And I don't care if you have the loveliest personality in the world, or if you're the miserablest bastard who ever wielded a spatula, it's what's on the table that counts.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 9:14 PM on February 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


This is as exciting as that time a can of tuna rolled off my counter, and I thought it was going to hit my toe. But then, when it fell, it didn't hit my toe!

Mike Nelson
posted by The Deej at 9:30 PM on February 20, 2008


so... consensus is:

VV sucks,

Iron Chef Japan doesnt suck,

Iron Chef America *kind of* sucks,

Giada has scary teeth,

Flay is a douchebag,

people who think Giada has scary teeth are part of an oppressive patriarchal societal hegemony,

people will have sex with Food Network personalities greased up with bacon fat

nigella is a hawtie


i feel confidant about these conclusions! good job us!
posted by [son] QUAALUDE at 9:52 PM on February 20, 2008 [2 favorites]


That's not Nigella, that's Paula Deen! (I actually think Paula is kind of sexy. and the banana pudding ice cream she created on her show when Ben & Jerry's were guests looked awesome).

Indeed. Paul Deen is the Food Network butter goddess.
posted by notoriousbhc at 10:01 PM on February 20, 2008


Paula Dean appears to be the latest Food Network personality (Emeril Lagasse and Rachael Ray being the other most obvious examples) to go from being genuinely engaging to downright overbearing once she was dumbed down for maximum appeal. Like the other two, it often seems like her show has evolved into little more than her simply spewing one easily identifiable catchphrase ("Are y`all ready to PAR-TEE?") after another while simultaneously getting cheap applause reactions by overdoing taboo ingredients (i.e. putting way too much butter in a dish as the audience squeals in delight).

Having said that, I have two of her cookbooks and haven't made a dud recipe yet (if memory serves, the Kristy Kreme Bread Pudding linked to above was sent to her by a viewer, not her own recipe).
posted by The Gooch at 10:51 PM on February 20, 2008


Most people here don't know that I was in the unaired pilot episode, before it went back into hiatus for major retooling.
posted by RavinDave at 3:24 AM on February 21, 2008


unsupervised: 3) The secret ingredient is not exactly secret. They're given a list of five ingredients ahead of time of which one is the secret ingredient. This is exactly how they did it on the original Iron Chef.

I was under the impression that the Japanese version simply used a "theme" ingredient and that it somehow got transposed into a "secret" ingredient for American audiences.
posted by RavinDave at 3:38 AM on February 21, 2008


RavinDave, as far as I can tell they did refer to it as the theme ingredient, but the theme ingredient was kept secret from them. They had a list of possible theme ingredients from which one was chosen for the competition without their prior knowledge, same as in the US version.
posted by unsupervised at 4:10 AM on February 21, 2008


way too much butter

Does not compute.

/hurf durf
posted by deadmessenger at 7:31 AM on February 21, 2008


All of this was foretold 40 years prior, in the Zombo episode of The Munsters 40 years.
posted by Fupped Duck at 7:32 AM on February 21, 2008


Does the Village Voice pay its writers by the word? Cuz a high school student could have written a better article, with the same content, in a third the space.
posted by Nelson at 9:08 AM on February 21, 2008


One nice thing about the Food Network is that it resists the movement conquering oh, just about every other aspect of commercial society, to move the beginning of the Christmas season back to Labor Day.

I've never seen any Christmas-themed shows on FN before Thanksgiving. Of course, that's because FN must be the only network in existence that does (or even could do) three weeks of Thanksgiving-themed programming, but that just makes me love FN that much more. And even after Thanksgiving you get a couple days of "what to do with turkey leftovers" before beginning the Christmas shows.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 9:09 AM on February 21, 2008


You know what else I love? Disowning a critical statement immediately after making it by saying that you were only criticizing the general practice, but not the specific individual practicing it.

No, for real, I wasn't criticizing them. I was pointing out that what they were doing, despite their best intentions, was contributing to the problem. that's all. for instance, I know guys who think that being critical of attractive women in public makes the women around them feel better because they're taking those attractive women down a peg. they don't realize that for a decent number of people that just makes them wonder how much MORE critical those guys are of their flaws. I have no problem with Xenophobe or uncleozzy. I just think it's worth mentioning, as I said.

FACT: Yes. Yes she does.

For real, no she doesn't. I've met her. She loves her food. A lot of other people do, too, and she meets a lot more of those people than the ones who don't like her food. I don't know why you'd think she doesn't like her food, but I promise you she does. Now, you can feel free to hate it all you want. I personally won't eat that much butter any more. But she really really does not think that she sucks.
posted by shmegegge at 10:07 AM on February 21, 2008


Sorry to burst your bubble, guys, but Nigella's show is faked too.
posted by essexjan at 3:44 PM on February 21, 2008


Well, apologies to all you jaded hipsters, but I didn't have any idea that any of this happened. I watch the Japanese version most weeks, and have seen the US version a couple of times. I noticed the US version (an earlier incarnation of the show, if I read the article correctly) was much, much lamer, but had never assumed any of these sorts of shenanigans went on.

And I will bitchslap the next one of you that disses Paula Deen. Chicken bog, ftw.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 7:37 PM on February 21, 2008


Sorry to burst your bubble, guys, but Nigella's show is faked too.

It's no big surprise that her shows are staged, considering the intense camerawork / editing. But my gayboycrush for Nigella has nothing to do with her "realness."
posted by LMGM at 7:39 PM on February 21, 2008


Yeah, LMGM, I know where you're coming from with that crush. I think it's mostly that if I hopped into bed with Nigella, I would be getting breakfast in bed the next morning.

Served by her maid, no doubt, but still.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 7:00 AM on February 22, 2008


All cooking shows are fake in the sense that they're not cooking real food in real-time. It's entertainment, not the dinner rush.
posted by puckupdate at 7:22 AM on February 22, 2008


Sara Moulton's show (Cooking Live) was absolutely real food in real time. Unfortunately, they took it off the air as Food Network transitioned from actual chefs making real food to 'personalities' (I'm looking at you, Rachael Ray, you shrieking harridan) making food porn (Nigella).
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 8:17 AM on February 22, 2008


Sorry to burst your bubble, guys, but Nigella's show is faked too.

They are not fake... oh, you're talking about Nigella's food, I hadn't really paid much attention to that honestly.
posted by Pollomacho at 8:34 AM on February 22, 2008


Alvy, surely you recognize that there's a cultural element to Paula Deen's recipes, no?

That Krispy Kreme bread pudding recipe you linked to (whether it's hers, or from one of her viewers) apparently came from an episode called "Southern BBQ." I am from the South. I have been to many "Southern BBQs." (It sounds so quaint that way.) And I can tell you just from reading the recipe, without a shadow of a doubt, that this particular recipe would be a smash hit. Smash. Hit.

Paula is offering her take on traditional Southern fare. Traditional Southern food is, generally speaking, fatty. Even our vegetable dishes are deep fried, or boiled with fatback, (or both). And yet, legions of Southerners live on (and many of us, myself included, are healthy and non-obese).

But I digress. You're totally entitled to hate Paula. But singling her out on the basis of cooking fatty foods is a tad misguided.
posted by somanyamys at 11:39 AM on February 22, 2008


Yeah, singling out Emeril would make more sense. When he had his original 1/2 hour show, he actually spent time teaching recipes.

When he started 'Live', it just became about piling on more pork fat (which does, I admit, rule), adding more booze, more sugar, more chocolate. Talk about taboo food porn.

I won't deny that he's entertaining, even if his schtick got old after a while. But I miss when he was this nice guy with a little cooking show.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 11:47 AM on February 22, 2008


His original show was great, agreed. I too wish he had never kicked it up another notch.
posted by Miko at 12:18 PM on February 22, 2008


I won't deny that he's entertaining, even if his schtick got old after a while. But I miss when he was this nice guy with a little cooking show.

I remember when I first discovered The Essense of Emeril on the fledgling Food Network in the mid-90s. He was articulate, engaging, funny and cooked interesting recipes that taught the viewer a great deal about food. It was such a shame when he switched to the "Live" format and almost overnight transformed into an obnoxious caricature who did little more than shout out one easily identifiable catchprase ("BAM!") after another ("Next, we'll kick it up, ANOTHER NOTCH!"), while simultaneously going for cheap, easy applause by putting ridiculous amounts of garlic, wine or sugar into the various dishes he was cooking.

And if I simply switch out the catch phrases I can say the exact same thing about Paula Deen. Going in front of a live audience doesn't appear to raise the level of discourse.
posted by The Gooch at 12:25 PM on February 22, 2008


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