One of the biggest surprises out of my recent trip to Japan was seeing this billboard while walking down a side street in Shibuya.
Some intense googling on my return to where I was staying exposed the return of the Japanese version of Iron Chef. I was fortunate enough to see the double episode premiere while I was in Japan (most fortunate as my friend could tell me more of what was going on). Fans of the show outside of Japan can get them from this site, along with varying quality versions of the original series.
I have mixed feelings about the three episodes I have seen so far. It is wonderful to see the original format mostly retained; the overseas versions never really kept the theatrics and awe of the original version. Some of the new Iron Chefs will be familiar to fans as at least one has done battle in the old kitchen stadium. The new Chairman hasn’t inspired me yet, it is tough to match the impressive Chairman Kaga. The first problem with him I think is he has worn the same clothes in the first three episodes which seems to be like a uniform. Kaga would always wear something crazier each episode and I was convinced for many years that he had purchased the wardrobe from the Beatles “Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” Photo shoots. The new Chairman also is a little lacklustre on his introductions to the challengers and the ingredients for my liking.
Keeping a link to the original has been done very well, with Iron Chef Chen Kenichi presenting the “Nominees” (challengers) for the first two battles in the premiere. One of these was his son who gave it a good showing even though he lost the battle. Also, Iron Chef Rokusaburo Michiba (now 81 years old) appears in the second two episodes as a commentator, judge and taster. He has that kind of Sean Connery / Japanese James Bond look going, particularly with the light brown kimono, cravat and big glasses. The king of commentary, Dr Yukio Hattori returns as commentator also. Once again the poor man doesn’t seem to get the chance to taste the food.
These are not overdubbed into English, currently straight from Japan. Hopefully Food Network in the US will take it on board and do their magic as in the original series (cooking show treated like something from the wide world of sports, awesome). My Japanese is limited to hello, thank-you and food ingredients but I still find it very entertaining. It is amazing how, with many languages, much english has slipped into the vernacular.
You can keep tabs on what is happening on the Fuji TV Iron Chef Facebook Page and I will no doubt blog more on this revival as the series progresses.
Until next episode “Good Gastronomy!!” (OK, I think that Allez Cuisine was sexier too)