These are what we call the 'YMMV items.' Things that some people find in this work. We call them 'your mileage might vary' because not everyone sees these things in the same way. This starts discussions in the trope lists, a thing we don't want. Please use the discussion page if you'd like to discuss any of these items.
Growing the Beard: In the beginning of Iron Chef, two challengers competed in an hour battle for the right to fight an Iron Chef in an half-hour battle. Not long after that, they cut out the preliminary battle all together and lengthened the battle to one hour. (To this troper's knowledge, the Ishinabe battle listed below is the only 30-minute battle dubbed.)
Another example is the judging panel, originally three in number, then expanded to four.
Hilarious in Hindsight: Okay, look at the picture on the main page. One of the things we remember Kaga for is his dramatic pepper chomp. Fast forward to 2006, where Takeshi Kaga played Soichiro Yagami in Death Note. Among other things, Soichiro's son Light was known for...shall we say, epic potato chip eating. Cue jokes about just where he got that from.
Ho Yay: Surprisingly enough: In an ICA battle where the theme was snails, Jeffery Steingarten bemoaned the fact that there were no African snails, which he preferred. Alton then suggested he take the other male judge out for a dinner of that later. Appropriate music then played.
Oh, Kevin, I love it when your eyes sparkle when you say that!
After Kevin asked one of the Carro twins (can't remember which) about a dish and Chef Carro told him what it was called, Kevin said he almost wanted to date him; the way he pronounced that made his heart melt.
The second match between Bobby Flay and Masaharu Morimoto in the 21st Century special was called (of all things) the Tango in Tokyo.
That was a play on various boxing matches, such as the Thrilla in Manila and the Rumble in the Jungle.
ICA Battle Octopus, between Michael Symon and Gavin Kaysen, both from Next Iron Chef.
Kaysen: Hey Michael.
Symon: Yes sir?
Kaysen: Can I take some fennel?
Symon: You need some?
Kaysen: I just need one bulb.
Symon: Go on, honey.
Kaysen: Thank you.
And later Kaysen wipes Symon's head for him, which Symon returns with a friendly kiss on the cheek and a man hug.
This Troper always thought Ohta had a little crush on Fukui-san... he always seemed to work so hard to get Fukui-san's attention/approval...
Never Live It Down: Neither fans nor the staff of Iron Chef America will let Bobby Flay forget the cocky attitude he had in his battles during the original show's run. For example, during the Wild Boar battle:
Kevin Brauch: Well, I'm seeing a lot of flair, confidence, cockiness and talent being, uh, put forth by Iron Chef Bobby Flay and his two sous... Bobby Flay: *looks up, around, and scoffs* Kevin Brauch: Let's hope that Chef Bull and his two guys... It's true! Sometimes the truth hurts, Bobby! It's talent! Bobby Flay:I'm just cutting pineapples!
Surprisingly, the only person who is polite and modest enough not to remind him of his Jerk Ass attitude at IC Japan's New York Battle is Morimoto. Perhaps the guy just wanted to bury the hatchet with Flay and decided not to touch old scars (seeing as they became friendlier to each other during IC America's run), or Flay has already earned Morimoto's forgiveness now that he treats his cooking implements with respect.
Subverted in the second Next Iron Chef finale. Flay does (offhandedly) mention the feud, which earned him Morimoto's Death Glare.
Three Words: Trout. Ice. Cream.
Or four: Cod roe ice cream.
Periphery Demographic: Food Network initially targeted Iron Chef toward its usual demographic: housewives. They didn't see it being adopted by younger audiences at all.
Squick: Some of the chefs' more outlandish ideas. (Seriously — cod roe ice cream?!)
Also Selective Squick, especially on the Japanese original when their delicacies don't match up with American tastes.
And Hiroyuki Sakai proved that he hadn't learned his lesson from that disaster (which earned him a sound chastising from the entire tasting panel) by making trout ice cream during one of the ICA pilots. He's not the only guilty one, however: natto and Coca-Cola, Morimoto?!
Hey, that one actually worked for Morimoto, especially given that natto squicks even the Japanese.
Lampshaded in ICA; any time the ice cream machine is started up, both Alton and Kevin scream "THE ICE CREAM MACHINE IS RUNNING!" in mock-horror.
This occurs far less now.
But Kevin still goes 'yay!' when neither side runs the ice cream machine in an unusual theme battle (see: Avocado)
Perhaps a bit ironic: An episode of Good Eats featured Alton making an Avacado Ice Cream.
One of the bell pepper battles in ICJ is especially hilarious, as commentator Kenji Fukui squicks out every time the theme is mentioned. Yukio Hattori and the guest commentators absolutely loved to tease him during it.
And now in the second season of The Next Iron Chef, the combatants had to work with somewhat squicky ingredients, including duck tongue, grasshoppers, and unlaid eggs harvested from a killed hen. With fallopian tubes still attached to them.
The idea of Iron Chef Real Person Fic is apparently a Squick of Alton Brown's.
Subbing vs. Dubbing: Most of the time, Chairman Kaga is not dubbed into English because he's just that Badass in the original Japanese. They dubbed him over only when they realized they couldn't get international rights to some of the music they used and would have to create a new audio track. And even then it was only during the introduction of the challenger, all his lines in Kitchen Stadium remain intact.
There are a few episodes that dub his Kitchen Stadium lines, which also lack Fukui's voiceover in the video sequence before tasting. Most of these fully-dubbed Kaga episodes occurred early in the series; when the producers realised the show lost something without Kaga's deep baritone, they went with the original audio instead.
Iron Chef America has this in spades with Morimoto, who is ethnic Japanese and also an Iron Chef in the original. While it was justifiable to dub him over in IC Japan given that he speaks pure Japanese there, IC America invokes Viewers Are Morons by dubbing Morimoto who is speaking fluent English just because of his poor grammar and rough Japanese accent. (Having lived and trained extensively in the US, he is bound to learn to speak English at a conversational level.)
This is only done at the presentation and judging part, however, as his conversation with his sous-chefs (who are also mostly Japanese note He does employ American sous chefs from time to time) is only subtitled.
Values Dissonance: What looks perfectly fine to the Japanese panel is occasionally Squick to the American audience, and vice-versa. Not to mention some of the cultural differences on display. (Why does no one care that there's a drunk guy on the floor punching assistants?)
IIRC, that wasn't just a drunk guy, that was the challenger's mentor. The rules prohibited him helping the challenger (which he freely violated later on anyway), but didn't say anything about abusing the assistants, for some reason. Yukio Hattori in particular was getting quite upset-sounding on commentary, as the assistants were from his nutrition college.
He...was still hitting the sauce pretty hard.
Also, during the second Bobby Flay/Morimoto duel, held in America, the Japanese commentators acted clearly taken aback by the American crowd, which behaved much like an American crowd at any sporting event, with loud cheering, a handful of homemade signs, etc.
They were particularly freaked out when the Japanese crowd started a "MO-RI-MO-TO * CLAP! CLAP! CLAP CLAP CLAP!* " chant.
The ingredients highlighted by the show often fit this trope in their own right. Haute cuisine in general is no stranger to clashes with animal rights and environmental activists over widespread use of controversial foodstuffs such as foie gras and caviar from endangered sturgeon. Lavish use of such ingredients is one of Iron Chef's trademarks.
The original series also featured more exotic ingredients such as shark fins, provoking angry reactions from Westerners more concerned with environmental impact than with Asian culinary traditions. One guest judge, French actress Julie Dreyfus (who is best known to American audiences for playing Sofie Fatale in Kill Bill), gained notoriety for refusing to eat a dish that contained whale meat.
Because animal rights and conservation are much more Serious Business in the US, Iron Chef America has strived to avert this by offering local ingredients as much as possible, and showcasing chefs known for farm-to-table and sustainable practices-especially when it comes to seafood. Bluefin tuna was banned from Kitchen Stadium in 2008, and famed sustainable seafood chef Joe Isidori once battled in Kitchen Stadium. Another Season 11 episode showcased Sea Whistle Salmon, farmed in the North Atlantic off of Scotland and Ireland.
A Season 5 episode "Battle Farmer's Market", pitted challenger Alex Guarnaschelli (that's right) against Cat Cora. The secret ingredients were picked from the Union Square Greenmarket in New York City.
In season 8, Batali and Emeril Lagasse went up against Flay and White House Executive Chef Cristeta Comerford. The secret ingredient was produce and honey from the White House garden and beehive (announced by Michelle Obama!) , and the Chairman's supplement of sustainable meats and seafood.
Japanese attitudes on animal cruelty towards some ingredients can be deeply unsettling. Battle Octopus was one of the most gut-churning episodes due to the chefs not killing the live octopi before using them.
Stretching the definition of 'values' a bit, but in one battle, Michael Noble, ICJ's sole Canadian challenger, made a potato and lamb casserole. This looks perfectly appetizing to American and Canadian audiences, but baffled the judges, and possibly voted against him for that.
An in-universe example, on the original show everyone considered Iron Chef Morimoto very avant-garde, to the point where some accused him of straying too much from what was considered "Japanese cuisine" to deserve being Iron Chef Japanese. On Iron Chef America, he's seen as a traditionalist, both because what was new over a decade ago isn't much anymore, and because the strong American influence on his dishes goes unnoticed by Americans.