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Series / Iron Chef

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Allez cuisine!Translation 

Victory! Defeat! Honor! Squid!
— Fine Living Network promo for Iron Chef Japan

You wish to know the Backstory? Well, if my memory serves me correctly...

A rich gourmand from a long line of Japanese nobles once came to the offices of Fuji TV with an idea for a program: a Cooking Show with a competitive edge with the express purpose of finding the heir to Rosanjin. He would pay for the set and all the food purchased — and proposed to pick three top chefs, each the master of a different style of cuisine, and call in chefs from around Japan (and the world) to challenge them.

Hence the basic concept for Ryōri no Tetsujin ("Ironmen of Cooking"), better known as Iron Chef. The classic format is this: The challenger would select which of the iron chefs that challenger wanted to compete against, the theme ingredient is announced, the challenger and the Iron Chef are given one hour to create a full meal — between three and five courses, usually, all of which have to use the theme ingredient in some way. A panel of tasters then judge and rate the dishes served, and the points they give are tallied up at the end to decide "whose cuisine reigns supreme." The competition is introduced and hosted by the flamboyant Chairman Kaga (Takeshi Kaga).

Iron Chef ran for six years on Fuji TV. After being popularized by a few Japanese-language stations in the United States, it was picked up by the Food Network. It proved so popular that two spinoff series were made: an abortive series of specials on UPN, hosted by William Shatner, and the Food Network's own, far more successful Iron Chef America, hosted by Mark Dacascos and commentator Alton Brown. That itself has a spin-off: The Next Iron Chef, a competition a la Top Chef where the prize is ascending to a position as an Iron Chef. The original Iron Chef is now running on Food Network's sibling channel, The Cooking Channel (formerly the Fine Living Network) as well as on the website Pluto TV.

There are several further spinoffs: an Israeli version (Krav Sakinim, literally, "Knife Fight"), a UK version (Iron Chef UK), an Australian version (Iron Chef Australia),note  Iron Chef Thailand, Iron Chef Vietnam, and most recently, Iron Chef Indonesianote .

Believe it or not, it returned for a short time in Japan. The remake premiered on October 26th, 2012, and ran for 13 episodes and one special. Hiroshi Tamaki of live action Nodame Cantabile fame was the new Chairman; former challenger Yuji Wakiya returned as Iron Chef Chinese; the two newcomers were Yosuke Suga as Iron Chef French and Jun Kurogi as Iron Chef Japanese; and the fourth Iron Chef was never announced (the show was canceled before they could name one). This version premiered in the US on the Cooking Channel in 2018.

After a three-year hiatus after the end of the 2014 season, Iron Chef returned to American television as Iron Chef Showdown, with a slightly retooled format, tested during Summer 2017 as Iron Chef Gauntlet, itself a re-tool of Food Network's The Next Iron Chef. Iron Chef Showdown is a two-round competition: A 30-minute appetizer round in which two chefs compete for the right to face an Iron Chef, judged solely by host Alton Brown; the second round is the traditional 60-minute competition to produce a 4-to-6 course meal. In 2022, Netflix released a new version entitled Iron Chef: Quest for the Iron Legend, which introduced a slightly new format in which the victorious challenger with the highest overall score from the earlier episodes wins the right to challenge all the Iron Chefs in the season finale in order to claim the title of Iron Legend.

If you're looking for the trope about chefs that are powerful fighters, see Chef of Iron.

This show provides examples of:

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    Tropes specific to IC Japan 
  • A Birthday, Not a Break: The dried abalone battle between Chen and Gao Jinyi was apparently filmed on Chen's fortieth birthday. Chen was less than pleased with the ingredient and regarded it as one of his tougher battles (though he did end up winning).
    • Michiba's final battle as an Iron Chef (to win the Mr. Iron Chef title against Chen Kenichi) was on his 65th birthday.
  • Affably Evil: Well, as evil as you can be on a cooking show. Toshiro Kandagawa, probably the closest thing Iron Chef had to a villain, was equally as devoted to its success as the Iron Chefs. He taunted, teased, and showed off many times but he also handled the verdicts professionally and even brought flowers to Michiba when the Iron Chef was hospitalized briefly for exhaustion.
    • Kandagawa's character evolved over the show's run. In the Michiba eps, he comes across as a Smug Snake who wants to take down all the Iron Chefs — Michiba in particular — just to stroke his own ego; in the Morimoto era, Kandagawa is portrayed as seeking to defend traditional Japanese cooking by taking Morimoto down a peg, working alongside Tadamichi Ohta and his faction.
  • All There in the Manual: the official book, with background information of the conception and creation of Iron Chef, the thoughts and opinions of the Iron Chefs and various crew members, and the complete list of challengers, ingredients, and judges up to the Sakai/Passard battle.
  • Alter-Ego Acting:
    • Wealthy aristocrat Chairman Kaga, played by renowned stage actor Takeshi Kaga.
    • Wealthy aristocrat Chairman Tamaki, played by J-drama actor Hiroshi Tamaki.
  • Anti-Climax: Pretty much any battle that ends in a tie, but especially so in the 1997 World Cup, because it happened in the final. The 2000th/2001st dish battle, Team French vs. Team Chinese, ended in a tie. Kaga was allowed to cast the deciding vote, which he did for Team French.
  • Apron Matron: Katsuyo Kobayashi, a challenger in the early days. More akin to Julia Child than Escoffier, she nevertheless defeated Chen Kenichi (becoming the second woman to defeat an Iron Chef) and was the first one to make the record eight dishes.
    • Amusingly, she once wandered over to Chen's side to warn him about letting a pot boil over. Chen gently admonished her that she wasn't supposed to be on his side.
  • Arrogant Kung-Fu Guy: A lot of the challengers come off as the culinary equivalent of this, especially the Japanese traditionalists (and most especially Western Japanese/Kansai traditionalists) who keep trying to "take out" Michiba or Morimoto for their progressive stances. They ooze over-seriousness derived from their belief that their years of training in ancient ways could not possibly be bested by new techniques and combinations invented yesterday. Tadamichi Ohta stands out.
    • Oddly enough, Toshiro Kandagawa, despite being a Kansai traditionalist who tried to "take out" Michiba and Morimoto (indeed, the most prominent of them) doesn't come off this way; his lively personality, his habit of teasing his opponents, and the obvious fun he has in executing his unrivaled technical skills (see: his creation of a lotus-root belt and his wave-cutting of konnyaku in Battle Lotus Root against Sakai), take the edge off his sense of superiority, making his smugness amusing rather than grating. (In other words, when watching Kandagawa, you kind of snort and say "Wow, what an asshole," while with Ohta and some of the others there's no snort.)
  • Ascended Extra:
    • Wakiya Yuji went from two time challenger to teaming up with Chen in the 2000th Dish Special to Iron Chef Chinese in the revival.
    • On the other side of the 2000th Dish Special, Etsuo Jo was also a two time challenger and upgraded to teaming up with Ishinabe and Sakai on Team France.
    • Perennial challenger and Heel Toshiro Kandagawa would be a commentator for one udon battle, as the challenger was Hattori's right hand man and Hattori chose to support him. He was also in the spectator box for the 300th challenge special sitting next to Sakai, Morimoto, and Kobe as well as the challenger for the 100th battle.
    • Retired Iron Chefs would briefly come back from their demotion to challenge their successor, team up with an Iron Chef, or commentate or judge. Ishinabe particularly would commentate on Club Mistral battles against Sakai, as It's Personal for him (him being part of the same rival faction Sakai was in). He even fought one of them himself during Michiba's brief hospitalization. Retired Iron Chef Morimoto was called in to be the rotating guest judge in the season finale of the first season of the Netflix series.
  • Bait-and-Switch Credits:
    • A significant portion of the US opening sequence comes from Nakamura-era battles: some of the challengers seen were from episodes that were never dubbed, specifically, Thierry Houngues, the only challenger of Brazilian descent, Gillian Hirst, the only Australian challenger, Chow Kuen Chung, the chef wearing the medal, and Phillipe Batton, the challenger seen celebrating his victory over Sakai. Also, if you look behind Kaga during the clip where he says 'Allez Cuisine!', you can see the Iron Chef in the portrait behind him is clad in purple, Nakamura's color.
    • The US opening sequence also made it look like Kobe was always a part of the Gourmet Academy; in reality, Kobe only joined the stable shortly before Morimoto did.
    • A really egregious example: for one episode they showed the opening credits with Nakamura...for an Ishinabe battle. They never even were active at the same time.
  • Beware the Silly Ones: Toshiro Kandagawa was a hammy heel that loved to taunt and show off but he also beat three Iron Chefs (Chen in Kandagawa's first battle, Sakai in a 21st century battle special, and Nakamura in his penultimate battle as an Iron Chef) and managed to win the Mr. Iron Chef preliminaries.
  • Big Eater:
    • Once or twice Akebono, a sumo wrestler (specifically a yokozuna—the highest rank), would be one of the judges. On some dishes he was given a bigger portion. (Also, besides being a sumo wrestler, Akebono was American, a country well-known for unusually large portion sizes.)note 
    • Former baseball player and sports commentator Kazushige "Junior" Nagashima also would receive bigger portions when he judged. He was teased about it every time.
    • Quite a number of judges have tasted a LOT of dishes. Shinichiro Kurimoto was shocked to find out just how much he's had. Chairman Kaga claimed he had to take up a strict exercise regimen after he realized he was the only person on the show who ate every week; over the course of the series he consumed 2,389,995 calories.
  • BFS: Or about as close as a kitchen knife can get to becoming one anyway. Wielded by Takashi Mera in "Battle Tuna" against Iron Chef Michiba. The blade was long enough to be comparable to a samurai's short sword... naturally lampshaded throughout the entire battle.
    • That knife was about 16 inches long. When he returned for a rematch two years later against Iron Chef Nakamura, he carried an even LONGER knife that measured about 20 inches long.
    • Kandagawa's final appearance, in the 21st Century Battles special, had him unleash an entire quiver of long knives, including a brand-new one he'd bought specially for the occasion.
  • Catchphrase: The Chairman's "Allez cuisine!" and "If my memory serves me right..." are probably the best known catchphrases from the show, but there are additional examples in the English dub.
    • Most of the catchphrases go to Kenji Fukui: "Bang the gong, we are on!" "From the floor, Shinichiro Ohta. Go!" "The [theme ingredient] battle is ovah!" "And now the moment of truth: tasting and judgment." "Who takes it? Whose cuisine reigns supreme?"
    • Ohta's inevitable interruptions with "Fukui-san!"
    • Dr. Hattori almost invariably responds to his introduction with "Always a pleasure."
  • Celebrity Endorsement: Chairman Kaga (the character) was in some commercials for various Nissan cars.
  • Characterization Marches On: Tadamichi Ohta, in his appearance as a challenger several years before becoming the leader of the Ohta Faction. While his high rank and skill level as a chef was clearly put on display (he was one of few challengers to sweep an Iron Chef), his purity in regards to Japanese ingredients isn't apparent from his use of foie gras, caviar, and mayonnaise during 'Battle Octopus'.
  • Chef of Iron: Occasionally, chefs that have had some martial arts training come in. A notable example would be Lin Kunbi (subject to Inconsistent Spelling), who was a six-degree black belt in karate, and challenged both Michiba (initiating the first overtime battle) and Nakamura.
  • Chest of Medals: Mitsuo Shimamura, who founded the Royal Park Hotel restaurant (several of whose alumni were challengers and some of whom actually won), appeared in Battle King Crab, in which his protégé was the challenger, as a spectator/supporter, and when he did so he wore a red jacket over his chef's outfit, to display his numerous medals from culinary organizations and heads of state.
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience: Each Iron Chef has his own unique colored outfit; in addition, in the post-contest interviews with each competitor, the windscreen on Ohta's microphone matches the Iron Chef's color (and during a tag team battle that saw Chen and Michiba team up against two challengers, the windscreen was green, what one gets when they mix yellow and blue).
  • Cooking Duel: The Trope Codifier.
  • Costume Porn: Takeshi Kaga loves his gold brocade.
  • Darkest Hour: The Suckling Pig battle in Season 7, where Chairman Kaga boycotted this battle due to the Iron Chefs going 3-6 in their last nine battles, including back-to-back losses in the last two battles. Chen also lost two of his last battles; an Iron Chef has not lost three consecutive battles at that point. Eventually, the pressure was on Chen to not only break his losing streak, but to also restore the Iron Chefs' reputations. As to show how serious this was, all four Iron Chefs, including Kobe, were summoned by Acting Chairman Yukio Hattori, and Sakai, Morimoto, and Kobe sat in the Royal Box.
  • A Day in the Limelight:
    • Hattori himself would actually be a challenger twice, the first against Michiba, the second against Nakamura in Nakamura's retirement battle. (He lost both times.)
      • Hattori also filled in as the Chairman for one episode when Kaga boycotted an episode because of the poor performance of the Iron Chefs. (The real answer is Kaga the actor had a scheduling conflict.)
    • Fukui was a judge for the 2000th Dish Special.
  • Demoted to Extra: Ishinabe, Michiba, and Nakamura once they chose to retire, barring brief re-ascensions.
  • Department of Redundancy Department
    "It will be sweet, right? With the pineapples?"
    "With the pineapples, yeah. Sweet and sour."
    "Yeah, both sweet and sour at the same time."
    "Just like sweet and sour pork with pineapples."
  • Determinator: Kumiko Kobayashi, who challenged Sakai in 'Battle Mishima Beef'. Within the first five minutes of the battle she badly cut her hand, but just wrapped it up (with what looks like... tape?) and kept battling.
    • Oh it's worse than that. She gives herself a long cut below the thumb, which won't close easily because she's going to be using it so much, then she puts a little tape on it, then she shoves her hand into a bowl of SALT.
  • The Ditz: Most of the younger female panelists, known to American fans as "Bimbos du Jour". Their often giggly and overenthusiastic portrayal in the dub doesn't help, particularly when an especially giggly and overenthusiastic voice actress does the dub for a relatively level-headed and knowledgeable panelist.
    • Frequent guest Mayuko Takata got it especially bad. Despite being quite young through the series' run (she was only about 23 when she first appeared on the show), she is actually quite intelligent, being a Tokyo University grad (for which Fukui, the self-described "regular guy", endlessly teased her). She also showed that she was very knowledgeable about cooking, getting into quite close guessing contests with Hattori and generally demonstrating a discerning palate in her judging comments, and later wrote a cookbook of her own. Despite all this, it seemed at times that the voice actors tried to make it as hard as possible to pay close enough attention to her actual words to take her seriously.
    • Two other victims of this were Hiromi Nagasaku and Chizuru Azuma. Nagasaku had a culinary degree during her guest appearances on the show (something pointed out by Fukui and the other guest judges on each of her appearances); Azuma had less formal training but had written several cookbooks. Each is treated as just another ditzy female celebrity by the dub.
  • Does Not Like Spam: Fukui hates bell peppers. And Kaga does not like udon, which was a source of amusement in the first udon battle.
    Tenmei Kanoh: Kaga-san, do you like udon?
    Kaga: Me? Leave me alone. *Everyone laughs*. I hate udon. *More laughter*
    Kanoh: You don't like it?
    Kaga: But when these chefs cook, they turn it into something else.
  • Downer Ending: Nakamura's Potato Battle ends with neither the challenger nor the Iron Chefs winning because the dishes were just so unpalatable, especially the foie gras and potato dumpling that Nakamura made which was deemed the second worst dish Chairman Kaga had ever eaten according to the 2,000 dish special. There's neither applause nor celebration, just disappointed judges and ashamed chefs as well as Kaga looking none too pleased.
  • The Dragon: Yasuhiko Yoshida, the Dual Wielding switch cutting right hand man to Kandagawa, seen here
  • Dub-Induced Plot Hole: In the dub of a sea urchin battle, Ohta asks Chen during the post-battle interview about using a torch, to which Chen's (dubbed) reply is wanting to look like Morimoto. Thing is, this was a Michiba-era episode...which meant Morimoto wouldn't have been Iron Chef for another three years.
  • Dub Name Change: Serie A, a group of Italian chefs who would challenge Iron Chef Kobe, were renamed “The Big Leaguers of Italian Cuisine” (or “The Big Leaguers”) in the dubbed international version.
  • Eagleland:
    • When Bobby Flay went on the show, his action of rudely flaunting his victory by stepping on his cutting board on the counter was a staged "evil American" moment. Morimoto was still "angry" at him in the rematch, because he flung his cutting board across the stage before standing on the counter it was under. Flay had promised he "wouldn't stand on the cutting board" this time, but Morimoto said that what he did was "essentially the same thing."
    • On the other end of the trope, Morimoto's background in New York is often mentioned, and he proudly wears a red, white, and blue stars-and-stripes American flag tied together in a sheaf with a Japanese flag, to symbolize his desire to melt together the best of American and Japanese cooking.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness:
    • In the first season, each episode was a half-hour long.
    • The cooking time for the very first episode only was 90 minutes instead of the customary 60.
    • Also, for the first five episodes, there was a preliminary battle. Five challengers each had to make a theme dish (the first one was gyoza, for example), and were judged by that day's tasting panel. The winner of the preliminary battle went on to battle the Iron Chef.
    • Early battles were much slower paced and both Iron Chefs and challengers focused on fewer dishes. Yutaka Ishinabe, the first Iron Chef France, was notable in how he'd leisurely serve up two courses. Later battles became more frenetic as competitors pushed to see how many dishes they could push out in the one-hour time limit.
    • The first five America broadcasted episodes have Chairman Kaga be dubbed over by a translator, the rest of the episodes would have Kaga's words be subtitled when by himself. He was still dubbed during the opening explanations of the Challengers.
  • Epigraph: "Tell me what you eat, and I'll tell you what you are." — a quote from Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin that precedes every episode.
  • Establishing Character Moment: Iron Chef Japanese Rokusaburo Michiba's first battle has foie gras (duck or goose liver more known in French cuisine) as the ingredient against a chef whose specialty is French cuisine. Michiba gets the win and shows that he can be victorious with foreign ingredients, serving as a precursor to how much he's willing to push the boundaries for traditional Japanese cuisine. It also served as an important establishing moment for Iron Chefs as a whole, showing their ability to work even with ingredients far removed from their style of cooking and come out on top regardless.
  • Foreshadowing: In his sole battle against Kandagawa, Nakamura swears that if he loses he would retire as an Iron Chef. He does lose and his next battle is his retirement battle against Hattori.
  • Going Home Again: Sakai, on the eve of a milestone battle, went back to his hometown to get some perspective on his life. He ended up reconnecting with old classmates and his high school teacher, cooking for them all, and receiving a letter from another classmate, Isao Makio, who offered to challenge him in Kitchen Stadium.
  • Gorn: The live seafood episodes border on this, especially if eels are involved, because preparing them involves hammering their heads to the board and fileting them while they're still alive. Some eels are still twitching when they are broiling.
  • Grand Finale: The King of Iron Chefs Tournament Arc, which served as the conclusion to the original series. All four Iron Chefs dueled each other for the title, "King of Iron Chefs", with the winner facing an additional last challenge in Alain Passard.
  • Gratuitous English:
    • Besides the obvious,note  this occasionally pops up in the original; namely, Chairman Kaga saying 'Merry Christmas' at the beginning of one Christmas battle. (Takeshi Kaga actually speaks fairly good English in real life.)
    • Probably the most obvious example is every battle is referred to as '(Theme Ingredient) Confront'.
    • The second cuttlefish battle has the challenger, Akira Watanabe (a chef who got a lot of experience in California as a slight contrast to Masaharu Morimoto's New York experience), claim in English that he wants to challenge "Mr. Morimoto." Morimoto looks back at him with his lips moving and while we can't hear him, his commentary said that he replied back in English, "Come on, baby!"
  • High-Class Gloves: Chairman Kaga is almost always seen wearing gloves. The only times he doesn't is when he's eating and in one memorable occasion, when he asks if he can feel Kandagawa's newly shaven head.
  • Hong Kong Dub: Fuji TV went with accurate/fluid translation over Lip Lock; they figured that since the commentators were offscreen most of the time, it wouldn't matter.
    • Averted with Chairman Kaga, who was subtitled for most of the run, as there were complaints over the original VA. (They wound up having to go back and dub his voice for some of the old episodes, because the original narration played over music that the foreign distributors couldn't retain the rights to.)
  • Important Haircut: Toshiro Kandagawa, in his final appearance, demonstrated his renewed commitment to neo-traditional cuisine by committing to a brand-new look; he entered Kitchen Stadium in traditional clothes and a hood — and when Chairman Kaga asked him to explain the hood, he whipped it off dramatically to reveal he'd shaved his head.
  • Inconsistent Spelling:
    • Usually happens to the Chinese chefs, especially between how the Japanese render it, how the original subtitlers of the West Coast broadcasts spell it, how the Food Network dubbers spell it, and how the translator of the book spells it. Even Chen was subject to this: Sometimes his last name was rendered as 'Chin', which, to be fair, is how the Japanese pronounce it.
    • Kobe's a victim of this trope: in the English translation of the official book, his first name is given as Katsuhiko. Granted, it is an alternate reading of the kanji that make up his name (note that Google Translating Japanese articles about him usually give him the name Katsuhiko as well), but it's still a perplexing error that reeks of Critical Research Failure, especially since the final paragraph of Kobe's section of the book explains why he named his restaurant Massa-it's a nickname he picked up in Italy derived from Masahiko.
    • Nakamura: Technically, his first name is Kōmei, note the macron over the 'o'. This can alternately be translated as Koumei or Komei. West Coast broadcasts went with Koumei, Food Network went with Komei.
  • In the Blood:
    • Chen is a second-generation chef: his father, Chen Kenmin, was the one to introduce authentic Szechuan cuisine to Japan. In the King of Iron Chefs tournament, we find out Chen's two sons are also becoming chefs. His eldest, Kentaro, was in fact the second challenger in the 2012 revival.
    • Yukio Hattori comes from a long line of chefs and nutritionists.
    • Food critic Kentaro, who challenged Chen in Battle New Potato, is the son of previous challenger Katsuyo Kobayashi. Notably, though, he dropped the last name to avoid comparisons between him and his mother.
  • It Makes Sense in Context: Some of the unusual sayings on how to properly enjoy the day's theme ingredient, including such jewels as "Go for the tail of the potato"note  and "Quail is the virgin; duck is the mature woman."note 
  • It Will Never Catch On: In the official book, both Michiba and Sakai noted that the producers of the show expected it to only run for about six months. Try six years, became the Trope Codifier for Cooking Duel, and is practically a genre unto itself.
  • I Work Alone: In the original Iron Chef, challenger Masanobu Watabe took on Sakai by himself in the Peach Battle. Sakai eventually decides to send his assistants away minutes into the battle. Despite managing to win, Sakai deemed this as one of his toughest battles to date.
  • Japanese Ranguage: Sometimes the translators get messed up by this, resulting in bad translations; for some reason, Italian words are particularly susceptible to this. For example: in one battle, the dub consistently referred to Kobe's chitarra as a "gitala", and in another battle where Kobe made arancini, they end up being called "alantino." (The "o" in the latter is forgivable, since the singular of arancini is arancino, but otherwise...)
  • Joke Character:
    • On occasion in the original, some challengers might have had some education as a chef, but chose other fields instead, usually acting. One example is Tatsuo Umemiya, an actor who challenged Michiba (and later judged in the King of Iron Chefs final and the Sakai/Passard battle).
    • Then there's Shinya Tasaki, at the time the world's top sommelier, who challenged Kobe in 'Battle Fatty Tuna'... and won. The first sign that there was more to him than anyone expected was his good-luck ceremony at the opening of the contest — breaking the neck off a champagne bottle with a SWORD.
    • "Mad" Koji Kobayashi, an Italian chef who hadn't cooked professionally for years and who worked as a grocery truck driver, only cooking on rare occasions for his wife and child. He turns out to be the lethal type as well, defeating Chen.
  • Leitmotif: Kobe's introduction music, of course, but all the Iron Chefs (and Alain Passard) gained one during the King of Iron Chefs tournament. (Sakai's, funnily enough, was from Wing Commander.)
  • Long Runner: Chen. He's the only one of all the Iron Chefs to serve from beginning to end, and earned the nickname "Dean of Iron Chefs" because of it.
  • Manly Tears: Sakai after winning the King of Iron Chefs tournament.
  • Mundane Made Awesome:
    • Dramatic orchestral music cues, radical camera angles, and breathless commentary.
    • And Chairman Kaga biting on a yellow bell pepper so especially.
      • NGAP
    • Not to mention the dramatic WHOOSH sounds every time The Chairman moves a body part. Eyes move? WHOOSH! Head turn? WHOOSH!
      • Overdramatic flipping of the cape over his shoulder so he can move his arm? WHOOSH!
    • Don't forget the orchestra playing dramatic music ascending into Kitchen Stadium with Masahiko Kobe in every battle he's in.
    • Kaga rode in on an EFFING HORSE in the finale!
  • Obvious Rule Patch: A couple themes allow for special rules to make it more fair on the chefs.
    • Battle Anglerfish adds an extra fifteen minutes to the battle because of how long it takes to break down the anglerfish for cooking.
    • Any noodle-based battle has the Iron Chef stop cooking at the fifty minute mark, then resume cooking for his last ten minutes after the challenger's tasting, done so the Iron Chef's noodles don't get soggy or mushy while waiting for tasting (which would give the challenger an advantage).
    • In the Sushi battle both chefs were allowed to prepare their rice before the battle due to how time consuming it is to prepare, and they were allowed to reroll their sushi right before serving to the judging panel.
  • One-Steve Limit: Played straight for the most part, but during Ohta Faction battles, they have to affirm that leader Tadamichi Ohta is in no way related to floor reporter Shinichiro Ohta.
    • Possibly deliberately averted at one point. Iron Chef had two or three challengers with the surname Sakai. Oddly enough, all of them challenged Kobe.
  • Passing the Torch: The Sweetfish Battle was portrayed as one, as it pitted Morimoto against the apprentice and former sous-chef of the previous Iron Chef Japanese.
  • Promoted to Opening Titles: Indirectly. None other than Tadamichi Ohta was seen in the US opening sequence: he's the one grabbing octopus like it's nothing.
  • Purple Prose: Shigesato Itoi talks like this, if the way he was dubbed every time he was on the show is anything to go by.
  • Reset Button: In one of Nakamura's potato battles, both his and the challenger's dishes were so bad that Kaga declared the battle not good enough to judge and demanded a redo.
  • Red Baron: The Iron Chefs are known by their nicknames:
    • Chen: The Szechwan Sage
    • Sakai: The Delacroix of French Cuisine, Seafood Sakai
    • Kobe: The Prince of Pasta
    • Many of the challengers also have their own unique nicknames, such as "The Don of Kansai" for Kandagawa, "The Hokkaido Bear" for the Ohta Faction's Shuichi Fujii, "The Hound Dog" for Keiji Nakazawa, and "The Conjuror of Garlic" for Kyonori Miura.
  • Retired Badass: Michiba. In the revival (while he was 81!) he took on Iron Chef Jun Kurogi and beat him.
  • Revenge:
    • Hattori's second battle is presented in this context, as his grandfather had been slighted for a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity in favor of the head chef of Nadaman, and Hattori wished to avenge his grandfather's honor on the current head of Nadaman, Iron Chef Nakamura, before Nakamura retired. It fails. Nakamura beats him handily.
    • It's implied that this is why Alain Passard was the final challenger against Sakai in the main series, as his first battle against Nakamura was a draw, and that meant there was some unfinished business before Kitchen Stadium could close.
  • The Rival:
    • Toshiro Kandagawa's the most notable example as well as an Ascended Extra.
    • Others: Club Mistral for Sakai (and to a lesser extent Ishinabe), Heichinrou for Chen, the Ohta Faction for Morimoto (of which Kandagawa was a part of), Serie A for Kobe (which was amusingly re-named 'The Big Leaguers of Italian Cuisine' for the international dub... which confused Canadians, as Italian soccer has aired here for decades and everyone knows full well what Serie A is.)
    • Perhaps the first example of this trope was Shu Tomitoku, who took two tries to beat Michiba early on in the show's run.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: Happens when you realize that a lot of the show's music is from the soundtrack to Backdraft.
    • A more depressing case: by the time the show started airing in reruns on Fine Living, the right to use the borrowed Backdraft soundtracks had apparently expired. They replaced it with cheesy synth music, robbing much of the awesome factor from it. (ICA has its own soundtrack but that at least has decent production values.)
    • More of a Dubbing Dissonance: Dr. Yukio Hattori was recently a guest judge on The Next Iron Chef. For long time viewers of the original show, hearing Doc Hattori dubbed in a much deeper voice can cause one to physically wince.
      • This also happened on the 'Battle of the Masters' DVD, namely the episode of the history of Iron Chef: Kaga's dubbed over with someone else. Supposedly, Food Network did that to get around a clause in Takeshi Kaga's original contract that would give him a share of the royalties if his likeness was used in any way related to Iron Chef. (Note any appearance of his was edited out from the original broadcast.)
      • Also happened to Australian fans in 2010 when Sakai appeared on the Australian version of MasterChef (before Iron Chef Australia started). His English is... passable, but it was odd to hear his natural voice rather than his dubbed voice.
      • In the earliest episodes dubbed, what voice certain people would be dubbed with would be...inconsistent. What was used for (what would later be associated with) Chen's voice one episode may be used for a challenger's next, then a judge's. It's only after a bit that they start using consistent voices for the recurring roles.
    • On the English dub, Kobe's introduction music is taken from The Big O. Like the borrowed soundtrack above, this was removed from more recent rebroadcasts and replaced with the standard introduction music used by the other Iron Chefs.
  • The Starscream: Hattori's first battle would be presented in this context, as Kaga declared him a 'traitor' and Hattori expressed his desire to become an Iron Chef as well.
  • Surpassed the Teacher: Iron Chef Chen was challenged by his mentor, Takashi Saito, who was apprenticed under Chen Kenmin, in the Prawn Battle. During the battle, both chefs recreate Chen Kenmin’s famous prawns in chili sauce; while Saito made the original version, Chen created a modern take on his father’s dish by using ketchup and serving them canapé style. Chen ultimately defeated Saito, with Chen’s version of the prawns in chili sauce being named one of Kaga’s favorite dishes in the 2000th Dish Special.
  • Take a Third Option: In the event of a tie, there is usually a tiebreaker battle for 30 minutes, however, there were three instances where an alternate option was employed instead.
    • Both the initial battle between Dominique Corby and Chen (Foie Gras) and the tiebreaker (Asparagus) ended in a tie. Kaga just decided to declare both chefs winners (probably to save the chefs from exhaustion and the judges from overindulgence).
    • The 1997 Iron Chef World Cup ended in a tie between Nakamura and Alain Passard. No rematch was ever declared between the two (and it's implied this unfinished business was why Passard was the final challenger).
    • The 2000th Dish Special ended in a tie. Kaga decided to indulge himself and vote for once and he came down on Team France's side.
  • Tournament Arc: The Mr. Iron Chef tournaments in 1994 and 1995, as well as The King of Iron Chefs Tournament at the series' end.
  • Trademark Favorite Food:
    • Chairman Kaga loves bellpeppers so much that he bites into and savors one at the start of each episode.
    • Morimoto loves Coca-Cola and regularly enjoys a bottle mid-battle, helping to demonstrate his deep roots in the United States. He once employed it in one of his signature unusual dishes to great effect.
  • Troll: Kandagawa spent a significant portion of time in the Lotus Root battle doing this to Sakai. The commentators didn't rule out the option he did that to throw Sakai off his game.
  • Unsportsmanlike Gloating: An infamous example occurred when Bobby Flay jumped up on his cutting board after defeating Morimoto.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: The Ohta faction, whose mission was "to preserve traditional Japanese cuisine," are somewhere between this and Knight Templar.
  • Worthy Opponent:
    • Kandagawa and the Ohta Faction for Morimoto, Hei Chin Rou for Chen, Club Mistral for Ishinabe and Sakai and Serie A/"The Big Leaguers" for Kobe. Notable in that each declared the Iron Chefs Worthy Opponents to them.
    • Kandagawa to all the Iron Chefs in general, really, particularly Michiba. He's battled Iron Chefs a total of five times, and numerous apprentices of his did the same before the Ohta. His final tally was three wins, two losses.note  His relationship with Michiba was particularly like this, as despite their differing visions of Japanese cuisine and their heated rivalry, each chef deeply respected the other and his skills. Kandagawa even sent flowers to Michiba's restaurant when Michiba recovered from the illness that knocked him out of service for two months, and appeared at Michiba's first battle after his recovery to support Michiba despite the challenger being much closer to Kandagawa in background and cooking philosophy (a Kyoto-based chef with a traditionalist orientation).

    Tropes specific to IC America 
  • Ascended Extra:
    • Michael Symon started out as a challenger, then won the Next Iron Chef competition to become an Iron Chef. Same goes for Geoffrey Zakarian.
    • Jose Garces, who defeated Bobby Flay in 'Battle Melon', won the second season of The Next Iron Chef.
    • In a non-challenger example, Anne Burrell started off as Mario Batali's sous chef, has since gone on to develop quite a reputation in competitions and host multiple shows, and was a contestant in the 2011 season of The Next Iron Chef.
    • Alex Guarnaschelli, a contestant on the "Super Chefs" season, didn't win, but winner Geoffrey Zakarian chose her as his sous chef. (Perhaps coincidentally, they had both been judges on Chopped.) She eventually became an Iron Chef via the "Redemption" season of Next Iron Chef.
  • Auction: In the "Super Chefs" season, the "reverse auction" was used. Five ingredients were auctioned off, with the person who needed the least time to cook a dish with that ingredient winning the right to use it in his dish. Whoever didn't win an item had to cook using the last ingredient with a penalty of working with five less minutes of cooking time than the lowest winning bid (or bids if tied for least needed).
    • Revisited in the "Redemption" season.
  • Badass Arm-Fold: The American Iron Chefs and Chairman Mark.
  • Brick Joke: 'Battle Cherries'. Alton was working on a new song for Kitchen Stadium in his opening spiel and came up with the following line, but was having problems finishing it.
    "And don't forget the Chairman's looks, he gets them out of comic books."
    • It wasn't until the battle was over that the Chairman himself gave Alton a hand with the song:
    "And don't forget the Chairman's charms, I hope he doesn't come and break my arms."
  • The Cameo: Dr. Yukio Hattori, commentator for Iron Chef, lent the use of his nutrition college and was a guest judge in two episodes of The Next Iron Chef.
  • Captain Obvious: Alton in 'Battle Sausage': "The Iron Chef is working with the secret ingredient, which will surely be for one of the five dishes required today."
  • Character as Himself: This is how the Chairman in Iron Chef UK is credited.
  • Friendly Rivalry:
    • Contestants for the "Redemption" season of The Next Iron Chef included college friends Chef Marcel Vigneron and Chef Spike Mendelsohn, who cheered for each other until they ended up as opponents in a cookoff and Mendelsohn was eliminated.
      Alex Guarnaschelli: This wasn't a showdown, it was a bro-down.
    • Also in "Redemption", the "Simplicity" challenge was to cook hors d'oeuvres based your opponents. Most of the chefs cooked very flattering things for each other.
    • Usually, the final showdown between two chefs for the title is full of trash-talking and "you're going down". Not so with Amanda Freitag and Alex Guarneschelli, who were extremely supportive of each other.
  • Gentle Giant: Michael Smith, one of Food Network Canada's chefs, who was very friendly and towered over everyone, even the Chairman.
  • Gratuitous Japanese: Kevin Brauch likes to greet the audience with a 'konbanwa' before introducing the judges.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Poor Anne Burrell in Season 4 of The Next Iron Chef. She used her advantage from winning the last challenge to rate Chef Zakarian's dish lowest so he'd be in the bottom 2, but unfortunately she also ended up there, and wound up losing to him in a cookoff. Alex Guarnaschelli even lampshaded this trope by saying that it was very Shakespearean.
    "Chef Burrell drew her sword, and then she fell on it."
    • Chef Faulkner then sees the same setup in the Redemption season and vows not to make the same mistake. She wound up getting eliminated in pretty much exactly the same way as Burrell.
  • Identical Stranger: Michael Psilakis, who bears a very similar resemblance to Michael Symon, and teamed up with him against Nicola & Fabrizio Carro, twin brothers (much to Alton and Kevin's confusion).
  • Interservice Rivalry: Invoked in the 'Military Grill Battle', with each of three Iron Chef assigned a sous-chef from a different branch: Morimoto and a Marine, Symon and an Army cook, and Cora and a Navy Culinary Specialist.note  The ingredient is 'ahi tuna, which is fitting given that it takes place at a Marine base in Hawaii.
  • It's Personal/Rule of Three/Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: Duff Goldman's reasons for wanting to face Iron Chef Michael Symon:
    "He stole my laugh, he stole my haircut, and he stole my love of bacon!"
    • Bring It: Iron Chef Symon's response to Duff's challenge.
  • Lampshade Hanging: In 8x02, Alton "bemoans" the fact that he's "forced" to eat world-class food with beautiful women. (Nigella Lawson)
  • The Lancer: The sous chefs to their respective chefs. More of an ICA thing, as they actually get screen time and most have already worked for/with the chef (whereas ICJ's sous chefs were all students at Hattori's college).
    • Mario's sous chefs (Anne Burrell and Mark Ladner) were a veritable dream team, and both have made significant appearances on other FN shows, making them more Ascended Extras at this point.
    • Flay apparently has a rule that any sous chef that works for him has to take a turn doing ICA with him, as if it's part of their education, compared to, say, Mario's, who stayed constant throughout.
    • Cat Cora's sous chefs' have also stayed fairly constant throughout.
  • Like an Old Married Couple: Alex Guarnaschelli and Geoffrey Zakarian are described in exactly these terms by Alton Brown whenever she's serving as his sous chef.
    • Working with the Ex: Guarnaschelli also said about Zakarian, "We were married, briefly, for about 10 minutes. It went badly." When she was his sous-chef, it was joked she was his "better half."
  • Lost in Imitation: Iron Chef UK clearly takes ICA's presentation nearly wholesale — from the graphics, the set, the Chairman Mark look-alike and his script — and made changes from there. Granted, ICJ's not been produced for years (did it ever even air in Britain?) but their Chairman even refers to "his uncle" without even apparent explanation of who said uncle is. (The idea of Chairman Mark being Kaga's nephew was introduced in 'Battle Of the Masters' and for the first few episodes he did actually say "Uncle Kaga" in the introduction. There being two nephews doesn't contradict existing backstory, but still...)
  • Mad Libs Catch Phrase: Almost Once per Episode by Alton Brown: "If you can't stand the heat [something about backing away from the TV]
    • One subversion: " better get out of the kitchen. Oh wait, you're not in the kitchen. You're in the living room. Or the bedroom."
  • Magic Countdown: Parodied in 'Battle Chocolate', Alton and Kevin pause the clock with 6 seconds remaining to finish their beverages.
  • Mr. Fanservice: Robert Irvine in 'Battle Sugar' takes off his jacket to show his well-built physique.
  • Mystery Box: Done in Season 3 and the "Super Chefs" season of The Next Iron Chef. The chefs are shown unknown items (safes with mystery ingredients in Season 3, postcards with New York locales in "Super Chefs"), and everyone but the chef who won the previous challenge gets to pick an unknown item. The last chef then has the advantage of taking whatever one of the other chefs has chosen and leaving that chef with the last unknown item, or taking that last unknown item if none of the now-known items is appealing enough to work with.
    • Revisited in the "Redemption" season with canned foods — half of them are marked, half of them only have question marks.
  • No Name Given: Iron Chef America's chairman is only referred to as 'The Chairman'.
    • So is the UK Chairman, who is played by such an unknown actor that neither IMDB nor Wikipedia have the actor who plays the Chairman listed.
      • The website mentioned under Missing Episode gives us an answer: he's played by Eizo Tomita.
  • Real Men Wear Pink: Jehangir Mehta, one of the Next Iron Chef competitors, specializes in pastry and has absolutely no problems reaching for flowers to decorate plates with.
  • Reality Show: The Next Iron Chef, mainly, of the talent search type. The shows proper could technically qualify as well; the only 'fictional' part of the show is the two Chairmen.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: In 'Battle Lemon', which featured twins, Iron Chef Michael Symon was paired with lookalike Michael Psilakis, both chefs who specialize in Mediterranean cuisine. However, while Chef Symon was his usual affable self and joked with both Alton and the judges, Chef Psilakis was much more serious, rarely smiling and keeping his demeanor very cool compared to his counterpart.
  • Shout-Out: Brown does this all the time. After the judging in 8x02, he turned to the camera and informed the audience that when they returned, there would be a wafer thin portion... of verdict.
    • "Both chefs are trying to hold on to their Deadliest Catch in 'Battle King Crab'."
    • He described Bobby Flay's seasoning of meat in 'Battle Breakfast' as "bam-age", Emeril Lagasse's Catchphrase whenever he added seasoning.
  • Side Bet:
    • Bobby Flay and Gabriele Hamilton had a side bet going in their battle: whomever lost had to clean the winner's home. Hamilton won.
    • When battling against the host of Ace of Cakes, Duff Goldman, Symon bet his lucky red clogs against Duff's hat. Symon won.
    • When Robert Irvine and Tyler Florence took on Paula Deen and Cat Cora, there was a bet as to how long it would take before Robert would take off his shirt. About twenty minutes.
  • Silver Fox: Iron Chef Geoffrey Zakarian.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: Sometimes that distinctive descending-trill sound (that's popular on some other reality cooking shows, especially Food Network ones) is used in concert with a judge having a very critical comment for a dish. Then other times it will just pop up seemingly at random, even in the midst of a judge saying positive or just simple things.
  • Special Guest: ICA likes bringing fellow Food Network chefs for special battles.
  • Team Power Walk: The penultimate episode saw all seven Iron Chefs walk off the stage together.
  • Technician Versus Performer: The Season 4 finale of Next Iron Chef came down to Geoffrey Zakarian (the technician) and Elizabeth Faulkner (the performer), and the finale of ''Redemption" came down to Alex Guarneschelli (the technician) and Amanda Freitag (the performer). In both cases, technique trumped performance.
    • The Season 2 finale between Jose Garces (technician) and Jehangir Mehta (performer) had the judges discussing this trope. While discussing Mehta's amateur mistake, Iron Chef Michael Symon stated that "You can't be creative without having the fundamentals down." As with the previous two examples, the technician won.
    • Season 3 finale had Marco Canora (technician) vs Marc Forgione (performer). For once the performer won.
  • Twin Telepathy: In the twin-themed episode, judges Tia and Tamera Mowry noted that the challengers, identical twin chefs Nicola & Fabrizio Carro, were a lot quieter than everyone else and communicated more with slight glances and motions. The girls said they did the same thing. Alton found it creepy.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Chef Zakarian and his sous chef Alex Guarnaschelli absolutely hit this. Usually, a sous chef is there to take the Iron Chef's direction, but as Guarnaschelli is a highly-accomplished chef in her own right (serving as a fellow judge with Zakarian in Chopped), she argues back at him and will tell him off.

    Tropes common to all versions 
  • Bilingual Bonus:
    • Kaga's use of Gratuitous English will occasionally give away the secret ingredient to American/English-speaking viewers.
    • Another example, combined with Viewers Are Geniuses, is Alton beginning most battles by calling the theme by its scientific name (if it has one; a lot of items don't, being products—e.g. eggs or cheese—or concepts—e.g. breakfast—rather than species of plant, animal, or fungus).
  • Bragging Rights Reward: In the words of Kenji Fukui, "if ever a challenger wins over the Iron Chef, he or she will gain the people's ovation and fame forever." Though to be fair, the chef could expect to see increased reservations in their restaurants if they went on the show, especially if they win, so it's not like it's completely bragging rights.
  • Catchphrase: In addition to "Allez cuisine!" used to start every battle, the original had Chairman Kaga introduce the challenger's background with "If memory serves me correctly..." (a more-or-less accurate translation of "watashi no kioku ga tashika naraba...") and the dub announcer had "Whose cuisine reigns supreme?", the latter phrase being carried over in the current American production and usually said by Alton Brown, who delivers it with pure awesome.
    • Kenji Fukui's dub actor also has a habit of ending battles with "That's it, the cooking's done, the (such and such) battle is ovah!" and tends to make up really bad rhymes going into the commercial break before the decision is announced.
      • Don't forget "Bang a gong, we are on!"
      • And whenever something surprising or exciting happens, listen for him to go "Man alive!" Unless the surprising or exciting thing was flames coming out of a pan (whether intentionally, as when something was being flambéed with booze or such, or unintentionally, usually when booze put in a pan for reasons other than flambéeing caught fire anyway), in which case he would exclaim, "Whoa, flamola!"
    • Alton's battle-ending "Put it down, walk away!"
      • "As the competition reaches a boiling point at Kitchen Stadium."
      • "I'm Alton Brown, and on behalf of everyone here at Kitchen Stadium, I bid you good eating."
      • And there's his catchphrase in The Next Iron Chef, "You survive to live another day."
      • "You will not be the next Iron Chef."
    • "May the better chef prevail."
    • "Excellent choice." — After the challenger selects an Iron Chef.
    • The dub of the original had "Fukui-san!" "From the floor, Shinichiro Ohta. Take it!"
      • "Fukui-san!" "Go, big fella."
    • "Kyo no tema wa .... kore desu!" (Today's theme... is this!) Used by Chairman Kaga before the reveal of the secret ingredient. In the English dub, the subtitles say, "We unveil the ingredient!"
    • After the guests are introduced: Dr. Hattori: "Always a pleasure."
    • Chairman Tamaki seems to have eschewed the 'Allez Cuisine' of his predecessors for what sounds like 'Good Gastronomy'.
  • Cast Speciation:
    • The original show strictly speciated its cast, always maintaining chefs that specialized in French, Japanese, and Chinese cuisine (later adding one for Italian).
    • The American version isn't quite as strict, having both Cat Cora and Michael Symon representing Mediterranean cuisine, but even then, their own personalities and approaches are very different.
    • The Thai version also has strict speciation, with one chef each for Thai, Japanese, Chinese, and "Western" cuisine. They later added three more Iron Chefs: Contemporary Chinese cuisine, Modern Cuisine: Italian Twist, and Dessert.
  • Christmas Episode: A few of these, scattered across versions, starting with the original Japanese version (if you're surprised, you shouldn't be). Both Turkey Battles in the original series were Christmas episodes; incidentally, both featured a challenger trained in the French tradition taking on the Iron Chef Japanese (Michiba for the first, Morimoto for the second).
  • Combat Commentator: A really unusual take on the trope, featuring two Fuji TV announcers (Shin'ichiro Ohta and former baseball commentator Kenji Fukui) and a culinary expert (Dr. Yukio Hattori) — the American version naturally has Alton Brown taking the role of combat commentator/culinary expert, and will demonstrate some of the food properties or techniques being used by the cooks.
  • Conspicuous Consumption:
    • The central conceit of all versions is that a rich eccentric is using his personal wealth to put on a high-stakes cooking competition.
    • The theme ingredients are often very luxurious with costs measured in hundreds of dollars per portion. Commentators sometimes mention that the collective value of a battle's theme ingredient can run into tens of thousands of dollars.
    • Outside of the theme ingredients, Kitchen Stadium gives the Iron Chefs and challengers access to a whole host of additional ingredients and tools with little concern to costs. On the original Japanese version, challenger Yasuhiko Habuchi claimed to have used $1000 worth of lobster to flavor asparagus (asparagus being his battle's theme).
  • Continuity Nod:
    • A literal Continuity Nod happens in the opening: Chairman Mark nods in respect to a yellow bell pepper, Kaga's symbol, before pulling out and chomping into an apple. (Apparently, the kind of pepper Kaga used was hard to get his teeth into and even more difficult to chew).
    • There are references to Iron Chef Japanese Morimoto acting as an Iron Chef for Chairman Kaga, Chairman Mark always references his uncle before calling the chefs to battle, and recently in The Next Iron Chef, Dr. Yukio Hattori was a guest judge.
    • Bobby Flay and Masaharu Morimoto act as Crossover characters between the two shows, the two being Iron Chef and Challenger in the Japanese original and fellow Iron Chefs in the American spinoff.
    • A small nod occurs at the "King of Iron Chefs" final. The sommelier present at the table was Shinya Tasaki.
    • The revival was chock full of them. Chairman Tamaki is seen at Kaga's grave. Wakiya Yuji, one of the challengers and sort-of an Iron Chef in the old has returned to be the Iron Chef Chinese for the new. At least two judges from the old returned to judge. Doc Hattori returned. Ishinabe was seen in the royal box in support of Wakiya. The first challenger was Iron Chef Michiba's apprentice, who had made a few apperances in Kitchen Stadium before. Chen Kenichi returned to give his blessing to the new chefs, and to introduce his son Kentaro as the second challenger.
      • Then there's 2012 New Year's Eve Dream Match 3-hour special, which pitted the three new Iron Chefs against an Iron Chef from each of the more successful versions of the show: Thailand, Japan, and the US. Suga faced Iron Chef Thailand's Ian Kittichai,note  Wakiya took on Morimoto (who was representing Iron Chef America), and Kurogi was the poor sap who had to face off against Michiba himself.
  • Cooking Show
  • Costume Porn: Kaga's clothes. Luckily, Chairman Mark and the UK Chairman are more sedate.
    • By all appearances, the new guy, Hiroshi Tamaki, is a happy medium between Kaga and Mark.
  • Demoted to Extra: Ishinabe, Michiba, and Nakamura once they retired.
    • Mario Batali, once he left the Food Network over a contract dispute. He showed up for the 'Super Chef Battle' to form the Food Network classic dream team with Emeril — finally making an appearance on the show — but he's officially retired now, replaced by Iron Chef Garces.
  • Eccentric Millionaire: One could make a good argument that Kaga qualifies as this. For perspective, the final count for how much he spent on ingredients came to ¥843,354,407 (around $8 million at the time). (Yes, Fuji TV really paid for it, but we're talking Kaga the character.)
    • Chairman Mark is outright portrayed as this, to a deliberately hilarious degree. He's not only credited with having built Kitchen Stadium (or rather, several Kitchen Stadiums, one of which is in space) and paid for all the ingredients, but on Next Iron Chef Alton explains that the reason the Chairman puts him in charge of so much is because being a globe-trotting millionaire doesn't leave him enough time to take care of everything in Kitchen Stadium himself.
  • Food Porn:
    • Especially when the ingredients list includes items that cost thousands of dollars (abalone, mountains of truffles, pricey fish caught hours before the show's taping, kobe beef...) or use luxuriously rich ingredients.
    • In one episode, the challenger baked asparagus (the theme ingredient) and a bunch of lobster in a dish. But upon serving, he threw away all the lobster so that only the asparagus was left on the plate. Apparently the meal costs $1000 per serving.
      • This happens every so often when an Iron Chef or challenger is making a broth or wanting to imbue one ingredient with the taste/scent of another, and is almost always accompanied by the guest commentators sulking about them not serving what is thrown away and/or Fukui and/or Hattori jokingly complaining about not even getting to taste the leftovers.
    • Another example was an Abalone battle, where Chairman Kaga explains that buying the abalone cost him a total of $5000 US. In addition, the abalone was divided into many smaller abalone, and several larger abalone, the latter which had cost Chairman Kaga $400 US EACH. Of course, the challenger then proceeded to ignore the larger abalone, saying that the larger abalone definitely could not have tasted good.
    • The theme ingredient on one Japanese episode was swallow's nest. It's exactly what it sounds like, and is extremely costly to harvest. The only food ingredient on the planet that costs more per ounce than this stuff is saffron. It's also the only theme ingredient where commentary explicitly mentions that a deal had been worked out with the supplier to return the unused swallow's nests for a refund.
    • In terms of pure visual appeal, the dishes on the 2000th/2001st Dishes Battle on the original ICJ have to take the cake (although we must state there was no actual cake involved). The All French team produced a truly magnificent multilevel platter surrounded with side dishes in the style of Louis XIV, while the All Chinese team made a really pretty food landscape featuring a mythical Chinese mountain (actually their pork loin salt crust grill) covered in greenery guarded by two turtles carved from melons (which served as bowls for Chen Kenichi and Sozo Miyamoto's stir-fried dishes), surrounded by their other side dishes and topped with a dragon made from a fried eel. As part of the presentation, the team then poured fine baijiu over the salt crust and lit it on fire.
  • Friendly Enemy: Kandagawa toward Michiba. He even sent Michiba flowers when the Iron Chef had been hospitalized for exhaustion.
    • Arguably, whenever a battle is Iron Chef vs. Iron Chef, this trope is invoked. It certainly was for the second Sakai vs. Chen battle.
    • And has been on display in the yearly ICA battles that pair off the ICs. Teaming up even appears to have thawed the Morimoto / Flay hostility.
  • Gratuitous French: "Allez Cuisine!"
  • Hurricane of Puns: Frequently. One ICJ Battle Turkey in particular was a hurricane of baseball-related wordplay in the dub (probably reflecting the Japanese, as the challenger was the official road chef for the Yakult Swallows and was supported by their coach and players).
  • Incendiary Exponent: It is pretty much a given in any battle that something will catch fire. Usually, this is either intentional (as with a flambé) or not a big deal (as when alcohol vapors rising from the booze added to a pan or wok catch fire because the stoves are absurdly strong gas-powered ones), and in any case looks cool but isn't really a problem, but occasionally you get problematic fire.
    • As mentioned, non-problematic fire on the English dub of the original ICJ was almost inevitably met with a cry of "Whoa, flamola!" or at least some mention of "flammable action" by Fukui—unless it was coming from Chen's wok, in which case he was liable to mention "the flames of Sichuan cuisine" (or words to that effect).
    • Also, ICJ challenger introductions almost always had as their penultimate scene a shot of the challenger stirring a flaming pan/wok/etc in slow-mo while Kaga's voiceover went "Now, [challenger name], show me [some unique characteristic of the challenger's food]"...
  • Incredibly Lame Pun: Fukui's dub actor loves these. One particularly painful example was a mention of Sakai being caught "between a wok and a hard place".
    • The puns sometimes gave away that the English dub wasn't trying to be 100% faithful to the original Japanese. "Looks like he ducked the duck!", for example, is a joke that only works in English.
    • English dub over a challenger who specialized in garlic: "The challenger has made his presence smelt!"
      • One that worked in the original Japanese but not in English: During 'Battle Octopus', Fukui-san mentioned that one of the chefs might make an "octopus taco." In the original Japanese, this would have been "tako tako."
    • Fukui occasionally makes fun of Chen for "wokkin' and rollin'."
    • Kevin Brauch, when introducing a judge in 'Battle Butter': "Ya butter believe!"
      • In the American 'Battle Octopus', Alton Brown tells viewers the Stadium is "pre-octupied" with 'Battle Octopus'.
  • Jerkass: Many of the challengers on both shows (particularly anyone associated with the Ohta Faction).
    • Bobby Flay started out as a jerk on Iron Chef and the early days of Iron Chef America, but has mellowed out a bit over the years.
    • And then one of the "East German" judges, Kazuko Hosoki. Fukui even noted that Hosoki was known for her tart tongue. Jeffery Steingarten is her American counterpart.
  • Kayfabe: It varies between series, but there is a bit of this involved when watching this show. Deep down, everyone knows that the Chairmen are just actors. Doesn't stop everyone from treating them as the Eccentric Millionaires they play though.
  • Large Ham: Both Takeshi Kaga and Mark Dacascos are clearly having the times of their lives playing the Chairman. Dacascos has really laid the ham thick in recent years.
    • When he fills in for Dacascos as "Vice Chairman," Alton too has moments trying to han it up like Dacascos:
      "Chef Duff, you have been known as the Ace of Cakes. So...will you have the winning hand today...or be forced to bluff with marshmallow fluff, Duff?!"
      • When he verifies that "The Cake Man cometh for revenge" (Duff said, "There's one guy...he stole my laugh, he stole my haircut, and he stole my love of bacon" when he called out Michael Symon) Alton caps it with:
        "Very well. Go forward, and face your fate!"
      • We later see him unsuccessfully trying to calm the rowdy Charm City group backing Duff. (from "Symon vs Goldman: Battle Chocolate and Chiles")
      • Alton asks Julietta Ballasteros:
      "Which of my culinary conquistadors do you care to crush?"
      • When Chef Ballasteros tells Alton she wants to keep it "ladies only" and challenges Cat Cora, Alton says with this line with a smug smile:
        "Ladies' it. Go do your thing, Sister!" (from "Ballasteros vs Cora: Battle Ricotta")
  • Mr. Exposition: Kenji Fukui, Alton Brown. Sometimes (particularly for specials and ties), Kaga fills this role as well.
  • Neat Freak: All chefs to a varying degree, due to necessity on the job, but Garces gets a special mention for having all the ingredients for his dishes in little plastic containers, on trays.
  • Nephewism: Mark's relationship to Kaga. Depending on if you count it as canon, the Chairman from the Japan Cup and the UK Chairman as well.
  • Opening Narration
  • The Points Mean Nothing: Half played straight, half averted. In Iron Chef, the winner was first decided on votes. If there was a tie, then the points were taken into consideration. Iron Chef America averts it altogether.
  • Retcon: The Japan Cup in 2002 claimed that Chairman Kaga died of fugu poisoning. Iron Chef America retconned that to say it was he that commissioned his nephew to start a Kitchen Stadium in America.
    • Possibly justified: the Japan Cup episode was never shown in America.
      • It was also kind of Retconned in Japan, as the replacement Iron Chefs proposed in that episode basically resigned two seconds after filming was completed. Basically, everyone on both sides of the Pacific pretends it never happened.
      • ... much like the Shatner-hosted episodes, which have never been acknowledged on Food Network, even where challengers such as Kerry Symon or Todd English, with prior Iron Chef USA experience, show up on ICA.
    • The revival, however, stated that Kaga had indeed passed on; the new Chairman is seen at his grave.
  • Running Gag:
    • After the first two female challengers beat Chen in the Japanese edition, almost every time a female challenger appeared, she chose to challenge him.
    • Michiba's problems with the pressure cooker early on in the Japanese edition. Commentary began to refer to the pressure cooker as haunted, and when Michiba actually got a good result from it, he quipped that "that weird pressure cooker" was in a good mood.
    • In the American edition, Alton Brown often grumpily remarks that he doesn't get to taste the food.
      • Subverted in 'Battle Turkey'. Alton criticizes the Challenger's decision to use the ice cream machine and, aware of the gag, she tells Alton, "wait till you taste this." Alton runs over and grabs a spoonful.
      • He does this again in 'Battle Radish', also with a mixture editing the ice cream machine.
      • Bobby Flay agrees to give Alton a smoked shrimp at the end of 'Battle Deep Freeze' after Alton pesters him with his skepticism of Flay's cooking technique.
    • Alton talking about how great the aroma of the food is in Kitchen Stadium, then realizing the viewer can't smell it from home — actually a long-running in-joke carried over from Good Eats.
  • Schmuck Bait: The ice cream machine (in meat or fish based battles) in both versions. Good things rarely happen when the ice cream machine is used. Three notable examples were trout ice cream, squid ink ice cream, and cod roe ice cream.
    • On the other hand, Sakai won both the squid and cod battles. The squid ink and ginger ice cream was widely praised by the Japanese panel (who perhaps were more receptive to the idea of odd-flavored ice creams; wasabi soft-serve has been successfully marketed in Japan), and even American judges didn't really pan his trout ice cream.note  Even the widely panned cod roe ice cream didn't cost him the match.
  • Serious Business: It's easy to get caught up in the dramatic lighting, editing, and sound effects. And then you remember you're watching a cooking show.
  • Short-Runners: The Australian version — just six episodes in 2010 with the advertising attention given to the show slowly decreasing throughout, then the show was quietly swept under the Seven Network's rug of Short-Runners and never heard from again.
  • Supreme Chef: The point of this show.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Hiroyuki Sakai is the second Iron Chef French and Masaharu Morimoto is the third Iron Chef Japanese.
    • In fact, Morimoto's fulfilled this trope twice: stepping in for Wolfgang Puck in ICA's early days.
    • Interestingly enough, the Sakai/Chen highlight episode produced for the American audience claims that Sakai is the first Iron Chef French. None of Iron Chef Ishinabe's battles were broadcast on Food Network/Fine Living, either (except for the 2000/2001th dish battle, where he was a member of Sakai's team).
      • Eventually, they showed one episode. And it happened to be the only one Ishinabe lost (Battle Chicken, an early Christmas episode).
  • Spinoff Sendoff: The pilot episode of Iron Chef America, aptly called 'Battle of the Masters', pitted two Iron Chefs from IC Japan (Sakai and Morimoto) against two Iron Chefs from IC America (Flay and Batali). This event gave credibility to IC America as a legitimate successor to IC Japan (unlike IC USA) and paved the way for its success. Chen was also supposed to come, but scheduling conflicts prevented him from guesting in IC America.
  • Stock "Yuck!": One episode of Iron Chef Mexico had the challenge of making food appropiate for a children birthday party, with the added challenge that all dishes had to contain either broccoli, liver or cauliflower. They even had a couple of kids added to the judges for the episode.
  • Tastes Better Than It Looks: A few episodes in both versions feature questionable-looking dishes that actually taste good. The Japanese series had an ice cream episode with the crab ice cream described as "not at all fishy and surprisingly good". Chefs had, over a number of episodes, attempted some kind of fish ice cream, which the tasting panel hated. Finally, Stephanie Izard, challenged with yellowfin tuna, dared make an ice cream with it, and she finally pulled off a fish ice cream that worked. The American show had beer sherbet in the Battle Oktoberfest (featuring Bavarian ingredients). The caramelized bacon on top of the ice cream threw people off, but the judges loved it.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Sandwich: On numerous occasions, the chefs would make an elaborate and very expensive soup or stew, only to throw out all the ingredients and keep the stock. The commentator and/or judges would often say that they wanted to try what the chef threw away.
  • Timed Mission: The chefs had only 60 minutes to complete all their dishes.
  • Trans Pacific Equivalent: Justified in Food Network's case — they did air the original in the US, and only produced their own version after running out of dubbed episodes of the original.
    • Nevertheless, any YouTube video of the original Iron Chef (or comments in a blog review of Iron Chef America) will be full of diehard fans proclaiming that ICA is the worst thing ever, that True Art Is Foreign, and that Americans Americanize everything and never make anything good.
      • And there's more than one petition out there calling for Food Network to cancel Iron Chef America and re-air the original series.
    • And now it really is Transatlantic Equivalent since the United Kingdom started their own version, particularly since it's based more off Iron Chef America than the original.
    • And now it's Trans Pacific yet again with Iron Chef Australia.
  • Trash Talk: The Iron Chefs and challengers frequently make swipes at each other. On the original, Sakai in particular seemed to both attract attacks and relish the opportunity to release (light-hearted) barbs of his own, while Kobe was a frequent target of derision, possibly on account of his youth (he was only 26 when he came onto the show, being made Iron Chef—much to his surprise—having just come back from his apprenticeship in Florencenote ).