When Food Network announced Iron Chef Gauntlet, it said that “the elite culinary skill, strategy and stamina of Iron Chef America returns,” and called the show “a fresh reboot of the fan-favorite franchise hosted by the incomparable Alton Brown.”
I’m all for a reboot, but based on the premiere, which you can watch below, it’s essentially the same show as every Food Network competition show: several stations in a studio, a pantry against the wall, an elimination round, a Food Network star as host. The major difference is that it seems someone turned off the lights in the studio, and the chefs coats and plates are all dark.
There’s good economics here: Why not use the Iron Chef brand and slap it on a successful formula? I’m just disappointed—and bored—by the repetition of the format followed by so many of the networks’ shows:
- Cooks vs Cons
- Cutthroat Kitchen
- Worst Cooks in America
- Worst Bakers in America
- All the Baking Championship shows.
- Guy’s Grocery Games
Yes, Iron Chef Gauntlet is elevated a little with the talent level of its seven contestants, never mind the presence of Alton Brown. And the prize—becoming an Iron Chef, if the last person standing can survive a competitions against three Iron Chefs—is major.
It’s also not new: Food Network aired five seasons of The Next Iron Chef, also hosted by Alton Brown, through 2012.
Of course, Alton Brown is awesome. Here, he’s not just the host, he’s also the chairman. Why hire an actor when you have Alton Brown? Oh, and he’s also a judge for the first round.
I wish his intelligence and wit had a better home than Cutthroat Kitchen (bring back Good Eats!), and he does get to commentate more here, like he did on Iron Chef America.
But Alton and a darkened studio is not enough to distinguish this show. It’s edited like all of Food Network’s studio competitions, and even has the tired twist of having the challenge winner get punished by having to choose the competitor who will be in the elimination challenge along with whoever Alton Brown chose.
I’ll probably skip the remaining episodes and tune in for the finale, because having one person face three iron chefs in a row is the show’s most intriguing proposition. I just wish Iron Chef Gauntlet actually was the “fresh reboot” we were promised.