The Next Iron Chef

I hate reality shows.

On the other hand, I love watching Food Network’s Iron Chef America.

I hate competition reality shows even more. On the other hand, anything hosted by Alton Brown is automatically worth watching.

What am I supposed to think about The Next Iron Chef (Sundays, 9pm/8c, Food Network)? I’m not supposed to like it… am I?

Well, when in doubt, just watch the damn show, I always say. The premiere episode of The Next Iron Chef debuted tonight, and it was cool. The show was divided into two challenges: a 15-minute segment in which the chefs were required to de-bone a chicken, fllet a salmon and work with a few other items, and a 90-minute segment, in which the chefs had to prepare two desserts.

Six of the eight contestants were challengers on Iron Chef America; Jill Davie and Gavin Kaysen are the exceptions. Two of the contestants (John Besh, Traci Des Jardins) won their Iron Chef America challenges, three contestants lost their Iron Chef America challenges (Chris Cosentino, Morou Ouattara, Michael Symon), and one contestant tied against Masaharu Morimoto on his Iron Chef America appearance (Aaron Sanchez).

Alton Brown provided commentary, wandering through the kitchen and taking the place at the end of the judge’s table normally occupied by the Chairman (odd, considering that the premise of the dessert segment was that the Chairman commissioned the desserts and set the rules for them). Brown supplied the knowledge and wit that he is well known for, further cementing him at the top of my "coolest guys on television" list.

Chef John Besh came out the winner of this first episode, while Chef Traci Des Jardins was eliminated.

Extra added bonus: Jeffrey Steingarten was nowhere to be found.

My modest opinion? Great show, highly recommended. Lots of fun and a few moments of "did they really just do that?" Visit the Food Network website for more information about The Next Iron Chef, including a schedule of encore presentations of this episode.

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