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Friday, June 20, 2008

Iron Chef America

It's okay. Certainly, it's head and shoulders above the absolutely painful Iron Chef USA, but it's still a mixed bag of entertainment. On the one hand, the guy that they have as the chairman is absolutely hilarious. He manages to be completely over-the-top with his gestures, his dialogue, and his mannerisms, but at the same time he makes you feel like you and he are sharing a private joke. And the little sound effects that they add to his karate moves that introduce the Iron Chefs? Win.

On the other hand, Alton Brown. Sometimes he's on the mark, but as a general rule, I would pay good money to punch Alton Brown in the face. Specifically, he needed a good firm smack (possibly with a rolled-up newspaper, or maybe a brass knuckle) during battle coffee. I get it--you're hyper because it's coffee--but I didn't want it in the first place. And is it just me, or does Kevin Brauch appear to be seething with barely-concealed resentment when Brown condescends to let him give the same explanation of the judging rules every episode?

For the judges, I can understand that the show's producers would want people who think differently because arguments mean drama, and drama means good television. The problem is that some of the judges are insufferable when they get to express their opinion. Andrew Knowlton comes across as prissy and elitist when he disagrees with his peers, quibbling over academic minutiae, picking apart the statements of the other panelists, and always needing to mutter the last word into his food like a spoiled eight-year-old. In contrast, Jeffrey Steingarten does an excellent job of voicing his opinion, frequently failing to agree with the other judges but still managing to sound like he is trying to offer constructive criticism, not just showing off. One is a tough but fair evaluator who is disappointed when chefs fail to meet his high standards, and the other is a petty control freak who throws a fit whenever the world around him refuses to meet his expectations. You never know what you're going to get.

I'll keep watching it (unless they keep adding new Iron Chefs; YOU ARE NOT WANTED, MICHAEL SYMON). In the meantime, I have compiled this list of items that I would like to see used as the central ingredient of future episodes battles:

Tic Tacs
Oatmeal
Jello
Goldfish (the cracker, but the pet might work as well)
butter
hot dogs
salt
scotch
bread
windex

Oh wait, this might actually be my grocery list.

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