Eight chefs (6 male, 2 female) from around the country meet to compete for the hallowed prize of joining the ranks of Bobby Flay and Mario Batali as The Next Iron Chef (TNIC). The only way I know how to review the show is by comparison to Food Network's other reality program, The Next Food Network Star (TNFNS) There are several distinctions between the two but TNIC sets itself up on a higher plain by offering more than a simple tv show. They offer nothing less than Immortality. The Chairman says as much in the opening credits. "Prepare yourself for a global competition where one skilled chef will become a culinary god."
OK the hype is jacked up, what about the challenges? Certainly they would be greater than what can be seen on other reality cooking fare. If you call creating a dessert out of squid or catfish, you've got yerself a competition worthy of the honor which is Iron Chef. The Chairman himself appears in person at the beginning of the first episodeaddressing the contestants on a lofty balcony perch. The rest of the times he is only on a satellite feed. One would preesume another appearance in the finale but we shall see. One would also expect experience to be a distinct advantage for the contestants but in the first episode the one with the most experience, Traci, was found lacking the chops to move on. That left seven to vie for the treasured spotlight; Mark, the tall chef nicknamed "Big Country"; Aaron, the Latino chef who somehow survived a colossal snafu when heran out of timeand became visibly irked at host Alton Brown, Jill, the remaining female chef with a sweet personality but on shaky ground from the first; Gavin, the young chef with something to prove; Chris, the weird chef who swears like a sailor; Michael Symon, the bald chef who is eerily similar to Michael Salmon from TNFNS; and Morou, the exotic chef from The Ivory Coast in Africa who now resides in Maryland.
"A memorable meal begins with a single bite." With this quote from the original Chairmanof Japan's Iron Chef, the seven wannabes are commissioned to prepare a dish that reveals their culinary sty!e in a single bit. They got to judge each other and in the end Chef Michael won this round hands down. Another distinction I see between the two Food Network reality programs is the lack of comraderie among the Iron Chefs. They are closer to the prima donnas found in other reality venues, even trashtalking on a much edgier level than we ever saw in TNFNS. One time Chef Michael says to Chef Mark "You're not as dumb as you look." Damn me with faint praise why don't you?
In the end of episode two the lone female, Chef Jill was told her dish was just like mush and the judges sent her packing, leaving all six men to duel. Next time two will be let go and just four will be left. Of the six, Chefs Morou and Chef John seem to me to be Iron Chef material.