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Iron Chef: Oh No! December 22, 2012

Posted by ourfriendben in wit and wisdom.
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Oh, dear. Silence Dogood here. As longtime readers know, one thing I always look forward to when staying out of town is watching the Food Network. We don’t get it at home here at Hawk’s Haven, so it’s a special perk when staying in hotels. Poor our friend Ben is resigned to my screaming, shrieking advice to the judges and contestants on the various cooking shows. (In fact, he swears it’s so entertaining watching me react to the cooking shows that he doesn’t even miss watching sports programs, since clearly I view cooking as the greatest sport of all.)

My favorite cooking shows are “Chopped” and “Iron Chef America,” and I’m always ecstatic if the nights we happen to be staying in hotels also happen to be the nights those shows are on. But I’ll confess that the “Iron Chef” shows always confused me.

The shows feature “The Chairman,” a mysterious Japanese figure who directs the action of each Iron Chef competition, encouraging the competitors, revealing the secret ingredient they must use in their courses, throwing his famous curveball at them partway through the show. This is all great theater, and The Chairman is priceless. But he’s rarely on-screen; instead, the action is largely narrated by wimpy host Alton Brown and his completely forgettable on-floor cohort. The competing chefs and the judges have personality to spare, but why waste time and money on Alton Brown and that other nonentity? And why doesn’t The Chairman participate in the judging? He sits with the judges, he eats with them, but nary a word passes his lips on the content or quality of each course. Why?!!

Well, it belatedly dawned on me to Google “Iron Chef America,” at which point I discovered that The Chairman is simply an actor hired to spice up the show. Alton Brown, by contrast, is a chef. No wonder he’s directing the action, and no wonder his comments about what the chefs are doing are almost always on target, even though he’s observing from a distance. (Sometimes the chefs’ behavior is so esoteric, especially in the case of grand chef Masaharu Morimoto, whose presentation is not just beautiful but the most breathtaking I have ever seen or could conceive of, that even Mr. Brown can’t tell what’s really going on.)

As you can imagine, I was crushed by this discovery. But at least now the show makes perfect sense. I just wish Alton Brown brought more of The Chairman’s verve, or at least the judges’ opinionated remarks, to the program. Perhaps he simply views his role as being directed toward the viewers rather than the chefs. Or perhaps he’s a gentleman and doesn’t want to blast the contestants. In any case, I’ll watch with more appreciation next road trip!

‘Til next time,




1. Jenny C - December 22, 2012

Alton Brown is not a wimp, just a bitty nerdy.:-)

You’re exactly right, Jenny. “Nerdy” is a much better description than “wimpy.” Apologies to Mr. Brown!

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