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Iron Chef and The Mole: Netflix is reviving both shows

Iron Chef and The Mole: Netflix is reviving both shows
On Iron Chef America, the Chairman reveals artichokes for the battle between Iron Chef Geoffrey Zakarian and Chef Fernando Darin. (Photo by Anders Krusberg/Food Network)

Quite a few of Netflix’s series are just copies of popular formats, from Swap Shop (which is American Pickers and Pawn Stars) to The American Barbecue Showdown (which is basically Bake-Off with barbecue).

Netflix has created far more original formats, like Nailed It!, and produced versions of popular international formats, such as The Circle.

What’s rare, though, is its revival of old formats. It did that with Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, which was reborn as Queer Eye.

This year, though, Netflix will revive two old reality formats: Iron Chef and The Mole.

As I reported last year, Netflix filmed a new season of The Mole under the working title of The Insider. (Netflix later added the original two ABC seasons to its library.)

I assume that we’ll see its reboot of The Mole this year, which is also when we’ll see the revival of another classic reality competition: Iron Chef.

Iron Chef: Quest for an Iron Chef will have new Iron Chefs

Alton Brown, Iron Chef Gauntlet
Alton Brown, chairman and host of Iron Chef Gauntlet, one of Food Network’s versions of the franchise. (Photo by Eddy Chen/Food Network)

Iron Chef has been adapted in the U.S. for the past two decades, starting with the version we can pretend didn’t exist: UPN’s 2001 William Shatner-hosted Iron Chef USA.

After that, Food Network used the format in several different ways:

  • Iron Chef America: Battle of the Masters in 2004
  • Iron Chef America from 2005 to 2014, revived as Iron Chef Showdown in 2017
  • The Next Iron Chef, a competition that aired from 2007 to 2012
  • Iron Chef Gauntlet in 2017

Netflix’s version, which is called Iron Chef: Quest for an Iron Legend, “will feature five new Iron Chefs, who will welcome Challenger Chefs,” Deadline reported, while the “most successful Challenger will return to battle in a grand finale for the chance to be named the first ever ‘Iron Legend.'”

Honestly, that does not sound super exciting to me, at least on paper.

I think that’s in part because any kind of fan service version of the original—Mark Dacascos as chairman, Alton Brown or someone like him doing commentary—would just feel old and done by now.

Meanwhile, the format has been reimagined and reworked in much more interesting ways since Food Network aired the original adaptation.

Alex Guarnaschelli’s great new show is basically Iron Chef, just with three chefs, not one, and blind judging. Meanwhile, Food Network’s terrific Tournament of Champions has fun and competitive one-on-one face-offs between outstanding chefs of varying skill levels and experiences.

Iron Chef: Quest for an Iron Legend is produced by Keller Productions and 3 Ball Productions, with Daniel Calin showrunning, and Deadline says it’ll premiere this year. My guess is that, with this information out now, the show has already been filmed, especially since Netflix typically films its reality TV shows months or a year or more in advance.

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About the author

  • Andy Dehnart is the creator of reality blurred and a writer and teacher who obsessively and critically covers reality TV and unscripted entertainment, focusing on how it’s made and what it means.

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Happy discussing!

Tori

Monday 4th of April 2022

Any updates about The Mole? I’ve been anxiously waiting for almost a year since your initial articles, has Netflix said anything official other than the casting notice for “The Insider”? I hope they have the rights to the actual Mole franchise rather than trying to do a weird imitation.

Andy Dehnart

Monday 4th of April 2022

No updated yet, alas, but that’s also not unexpected: Netflix regularly films shows a year before airing them.

And they do have the rights to the original format, so it’ll be The Mole—though I’d expect some changes, too!

Tyler

Wednesday 23rd of March 2022

So are there any updates about "The Insider"? Has it really been filmed already? I'm hoping to see it on Netflix this summer. It looks to me that Netflix has been promoting "The Mole" quite a bit which is great! Hopefully they upload the celebrity additions as well, and maybe even season 5.

Chuck

Friday 21st of January 2022

I loved The Mole and I hope this revived version is worth it. I find it humorous that Food Network did everything in it's power to get Alex G to be an Iron Chef and then canceled the series. I don't think she even got to compete as an Iron Chef.

Tyler

Wednesday 23rd of March 2022

@Chuck, I loved The Mole as well!

Andy Dehnart

Friday 21st of January 2022

Alex did compete as an Iron Chef! Wikipedia's tally shows 11 total matches. It's on the low end of the Iron Chefs, and of course, far less than Bobby Flay's 61 and Morimoto's 44.

Eric

Thursday 20th of January 2022

I keep thinking that Netflix is actually "reviving" "The Mole," not just copying the format & calling it something else. Would that really be called a revival? I guess so, but I wonder if they tried to use "The Mole" as a title and Stone Stanley wouldn't let them?