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YMMV / Iron Chef

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  • Alternative Character Interpretation: Based on all the Wild Mass Guessing, Chairman Mark and Alton Brown are apparently two steps from murdering each other.
  • Creator's Pet: The Next Iron Chef could have had the subtitle We're Going To Keep Doing This Until Alex Guarneschelli Wins.
  • Estrogen Brigade: Certainly among the later years of Iron Chef, between Sakai, Chen, Morimoto, Kobe, and Kaga, a lot of women watched the show. (People tend to forget this, but most of the Iron Chefs were actually quite young considering that they were supposed to be some of the best chefs in Japan: Sakai was 41 when he became an Iron Chef, Chen was 37, Morimoto was 44,note  and Kobe was 26. Even Nakamura was only middle-aged when he showed up at 48. The only truly old chef to be an Iron Chef on the original series was Michiba, who was 62 when he started in 1993.) Some even include Fukui.
    • Kaga's stage following probably bolstered the ratings in the earlier days, and with that voice, who can blame them?
    • Repeated in ICA, Morimoto, Flay, Symon, Alton, and Chairman Mark have their own fangirl followings, and for the older ladies, Jeffery would make you a fine meal, and being cranky cute all the way.
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  • "Funny Aneurysm" Moment: For those lucky bastards that got to see the two battles with Rory Kennedy, this comes into play once you remember he died about a year after his battles. (In the procession of chefs in the final battle, he is represented by a portrait.)
  • Gateway Series: For both Cooking Shows, and Weird Japanese Things.
  • Growing the Beard: In the beginning of Iron Chef, five challengers competed in a preliminary battle for the right to fight an Iron Chef in an hour-and-a-half battle. By the second episode, the main battle was shortened to an hour; by the sixth episode, the preliminary battle was ditched altogether.
    • Another example is the judging panel, originally three in number, then expanded to four.
    • Ironically, Iron Chef Showdown revised the format by returning to a half-hour preliminary battle between two challengers for the right to fight the Iron Chef in a full-hour battle.
  • 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...
  • Kayfabe: In-character, Masahiko Kobe spent his time apprenticing in Italy to prepare him for the show. In reality, it was simply part of his time as an apprentice chef. When he was called to appear on the show, he didn't know until it was time to get on his flight back to Japan that he was going to be an Iron Chef and not a challenger.
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  • Magnificent Bastard: Kandagawa, both Chairmen. Other chefs have had their moments as well.
  • Memetic Badass: Some of Alton's comments paint the Chairman in this sort of light.
    • Of course, Alton himself has fallen in this trope himself with regards to Good Eats.
  • Narm: See Department of Redundancy Department and Mundane Made Awesome above, amongst others. So much of the over-the-top style of Iron Chef is meant to be serious and dramatic, but comes out hilarious. I'm looking at you Dr. Yukio Hattori!
  • 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 Jerkass 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.
  • Shocking Elimination: From The Next Iron Chef, Robert Irvine's early elimination was shocking to the other chefs and underscored just how serious the competition was.
  • Signature Scene: The opening to the original Japanese show, particularly Chairman Kaga's epic pepper bite.
  • Squick: Some of the chefs' more outlandish ideas. (Seriously — cod roe ice cream?!)
    • 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 Avocado 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 ) 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?)answer 
    • 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.
      • It Makes Sense in Context: An old fisherman's trick is to cut a few legs from the Octopus and throw it back into the ocean. The Octopus will grow back the legs without too much harm.
      • In one of ICA's throwback episodes, it's specifically mentioned that several foods from the show's earliest episodes (2004 in this case) are no longer allowed in Kitchen Stadium, including bluefin tuna, shark fins, Russian sturgeon and its caviar, etc. As Alton points out, some of these are endangered to critically endangered species, which makes the obtaining and eating of them a felony in the United States. Serious Business, indeed.
    • 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 the methods he used baffled the commentators and judges, which may have cost him a few points (the potatoes were pan-fried to a golden brown, but the commentators — including Dr. Hattori — were worried he might have burned them). This general Japanese preference for lighter cooking has led to the commentators worrying about dishes being too burnt from other chefs, as well—including, on at least one occasion (the Jinhua Pork battle) from Sakai (who made a roast leg of pork with prunes and pineapple purée that to Western eyes was a wonderful dark golden-brown, but which Hattori and the rest thought might be burnt).
    • 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. Moreover, Americans tend not to notice the American influences on Morimoto's cuisine, and also tend not to care about the supposed purity of Japanese cuisine (which seriously upset Kandagawa and the Ohta Faction, but Americans, whose cuisine is hardly "pure" anything to begin with, tend to think mixing of culinary ideas is almost always a good thing).

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