In the past decade American TV producers have realized that Japan is a fertile market when it comes to TV programs that can be purchased, translated and sold to America's ever-expanding cable TV market. Some shows succeed by lampooning the originals or by changing the premise to something more American. Iron Chef, fortunately, manages to avoid that and makes the transition to American television in a way that both preserves and honors the integrity of the original program.
In any language, Iron Chef is a good show that holds viewers' attention throughout the competition and the judging. The premise is easy to understand and the action is always exciting. Viewers can come in at virtually any point of the show and pick up on the action as though it were a true sporting event. It is a simple premise that makes great TV.
I especially like that the fact that the American producers acknowledge the show's foreign origins. Through the inclusion of small details, such as subtitling rather than dubbing "Chairman Kaga's" monologues into spoken English, they really enhance the overall production. The Food Network could have taken the lower road and played this show for laughs, but I'm glad they didn't. The end result is a great show that the whole family can watch together.