Next Iron Chef changes: new cast of Food Network and Top Chef judges, chefs; new structure

For its fourth season, Food Network’s Next Iron Chef is making major changes to its format and casting, as its contestants are all well-known chefs who are stars and judges on the network and elsewhere, including on Bravo’s Top Chef. The cast ranges from Top Chef Masters 2 winner Marcus Samuelsson to Chopped judges Alex Guarnaschelli and Geoffrey Zakarian, and each episode will now include a challenge similar to Iron Chef.

The contestants are Anne Burrell, Michael Chiarello, Elizabeth Falkner, Alex Guarnaschelli, Chuck Hughes, Robert Irvine, Beau MacMillan, Spike Mendelsohn, Marcus Samuelsson, and Geoffrey Zakarian. Alton Brown returns to host and Michael Symon and Simon Majumdar return as judges, although they’re joined this season by UK Iron Chef Judy Joo.

As to the format, Food Network said in a press release that the “challenges are heightened — with each episode featuring a grueling Chairman’s Challenge and an intense, new element that will determine who goes home: the Secret Ingredient Showdown, which pits the two chefs at the bottom of the pack against each other in a sudden-death cook-off with only one ingredient.”

Next Food Network Star judge and Food Network general manager Bob Tuschman said they “are all superstars in their own right — they’ve won James Beard Awards, prepared menus for presidents and heads of state and are at the top of the culinary pyramid. With these extraordinary chefs battling it out every week in true Iron Chef-style, the show promises extraordinary culinary competitions, feats of bold imagination and nail-biting suspense.”

It debuts Oct. 30.

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