After “Iron Chef America” has ruled the Food Network for more than ten seasons, the popular cooking contest is back on Netflix.
Filmed at the new Los Angeles Kitchen stadium with familiar basics – the show’s elite Iron Chefs take on the challenges of cooking on deadlines against rival chefs with meals that include… Secretly the component announced by the president (with actor Mark Dacascos reprise the role).
But there are notable changes to the “Iron Legend” that are “very important and crucial,” says returning host Alton Brown. “But the show’s DNA is still intact. This is an evolution, not a mutation.”
Here are the five most important differences.
Meet the new Iron Chefs: Who will face the opponents in the kitchen court
Newcomer Kristen Kesch brings competitive proportions
Top Chef season 10 winner Kristen Kish joins Brown as co-host on “The Legend of Iron,” where she brings the experience of competition battle and interviews chefs on camera during frantic preparation. “Kristen can get down to the floor and ask great questions and really get people’s heads in,” Brown says. “Then she came back and we could talk about it.”
In another twist for the host, Brown and Kish join the show’s judges—Nello Matter, Andrew Zimmern, and a celebrity—at the judging table. “There we can continue the conversation, maybe even direct it,” Brown says.
The hosts still do not have the voices of competition.
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The Iron Chefs are international avengers protecting the trophy
The cooking iron’s caliber is large and filled with international stars including Dominique Crane, the first American chef to win three Michelin stars. The five-member team is remarkably international with Mexico-born Gabriela Camara (one of The Times’ 100 Most Influential People in 2020), Ethiopia-born Marcus Samuelson, and Australian-born franchise chef Top Chef.
“East Meets West” star chef Ming Tsai is the only American-born Iron Chef.
“It represents a global style and approach,” Brown says. “It’s new. I see things I haven’t seen before. That says something.”
Iron Chefs are chosen to battle seasoned chefs in individual competitions. But a new wrinkle brings the series’ highest-scoring contender into a battle royal against all five chefs – who join forces with the Avengers. Should the combined Iron Chef team eventually be defeated, the boss relinquishes the new Gold Cup to the victorious challenger.
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“It’s the ultimate trophy. It’s something only a man of great fortune can make,” says Dacascos who describes the first Iron Chef Team fight as “huge.”
“If one challenger takes them down, shame, shame!” Dacascos says. “But if the challenger can pull it off, respect him. Until the challenger chef wins the title, he’ll stand still.”
Brown says the Iron Chefs cook up his perceptible tension.
“As much as they want to act as a team, they are very competitive individuals,” Brown says. “It’s a big bowl of ego out there messy.”
Los Angeles Kitchen Stadium is huge
Moving from the former, cramped neighborhoods of New York City to Los Angeles opened the fray, and it is now large enough to allow the public. Size saves room for new cameras, more angles and requires more space for cooks in the kitchen playground.
There’s also room for significantly more stacked food for the chefs to grab as the clock starts after The Chief serves up the secret ingredient – who now has his own secret room.
“We have a lot of components on the altar that is now like a component garage,” Brown says. “It allows for larger thematic events and we can bring in more food.”
No commercials, more “Iron Chef”
Netflix streaming means more “Iron Chef” without commercials. The 46-minute shows are all cooking and further discussion.
“We don’t have to sign, go to the commercial and then the recaps,” Brown says. “We go uninterrupted.”
There’s even plenty of time to fill in the story of the mysterious boss, who cries out of spice in one episode. “The width is wider and deeper, just like a tree, with deeper roots,” says Dacascos.
The bald president turned her into an 11
The Dascascos martial arts star chairman originally started out on the same strict and flowery path as Chief Karga (Takeshi Kaga) of the Japanese “Iron Chef” (which ran from 1993 to 2002).
“In the old days, Mark was very serious,” Brown says. “But he’s managed to bring a totally likable enthusiasm to the chairman. Someone at Netflix has told him to turn it into 11 now.”
The eyes are wider, the martial arts move more on the screen, his shriek more strange. And the head is stunningly bald since Dascascos starred as Keanu Reeves-fight killer Zero in “John Wick: Chapter 3 Parabellum.”
“I shaved it for ‘John Wick’ and didn’t redevelop it into ‘Iron Chef’ like Yul Brenner or Telly Savalas,” says Dacascos. If we get another season, we’ll see what the boss looks like then.”
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