Iron Chef Gauntlet: Food Network’s Return of Allez Cuisine


Iron Chef Gauntlet brings back the foodie favorite cooking reality television show, Iron Chef. The Food Network version of the Japanese classic popularized celebrity cooking competitions.

Foodies, cooking show fanatics and reality television fans are ecstatic for the new season of Iron Chef Gauntlet. The new version of Iron Chef brings well-known, awarding winning chefs into battle for the chance to battle three Iron Chefs. Premiering April 16 on the Food Network, this version of Iron Chef breathes new life into the popular series.

For those unfamiliar, Iron Chef was originally a Japanese cooking competition. A few select Iron Chefs would battle opponents in a cooking competition. Each chef had 60 minutes to create several dishes using a secret ingredient. Judges would score each chef on creativity, presentation and taste. The winning chef would reign supreme.

Iron Chefs on Iron Chef Gauntlet, photo from Food Network

The Food Network began its own version of Iron Chef. Original Iron Chefs included Mario Batali and Bobby Flay. Using the same concept as Japan, invited chefs would battle Iron Chefs in a secret ingredient showdown. Each chef would have to create five dishes in 60 minutes. One chef would prevail with the best scores in taste, presentation and creativity. Sometimes Iron Chefs won and other times the challengers won.

While the Food Network version had some similarities to the Japanese version. According to the show intro, the Chairman was a distant relative of the Japanese chairman (who knows if that was true). Most importantly, each and every show started with the same call of battle “Allez cuisine!” This command started the Iron Chef, challenger and sous chefs into frenzied battle using the secret ingredient.

One key ingredient of the entertainment factor of Iron Chef was the secret ingredient. To the skeptics, the secret ingredient was truly secret (on a private tour of Food Network studios, I was assured this aspect of the show was true). Battling chefs had an idea of possible ingredients, but the exact secret ingredient was not known until the competition.

Chefs would try to be creative during the limited time frame. Usually the chefs who could create a yummy dessert out of an unthinkable savory item would have an advantage. Overall, the creativity and execution in the limited time frame always was impressive.

In this newest version of Iron Chef, Iron Chef Gauntlet gives eight chefs the chance to battle three Iron Chefs in the final competition. Each week, the battling chefs will face two challenges. One challenge is for all the competing chefs and a second challenge is an elimination challenge.

While the challenges have yet to be unveiled, the secret ingredients will most likely be intriguing and difficult. It seems highly unlikely that chefs will have some seasonal fruit or a chicken. Battles involving hanger steak, offal or maybe jackfruit seem more likely. How these accomplished chefs transform the unusual ingredients will be key to their success.

Iron Chef Gauntlet Challengers, photo from Food Network

For Iron Chef Gauntlet, the chefs putting their pedigree and reputation on the line are: Jason Dady, Jonathon Sawyer, Michael Gulotta, Nyesha Arrington, Sarah Grueneberg, Shota Nakajima and Stephanie Izard.

The competing chefs have quite accolades under their belts. Contestant chefs have won James Beard Awards, Best New Chef by Food and Wine and several other awards. These chefs are looking to add to their titles.

A few of these chefs have television cooking show competitions under their belt. Stephanie Izard competed on Iron Chef and won Top Chef. Sarah Grueneberg also competed on Top Chef.

Personally, I’m rooting for Stephanie Izard. The successful Chicago chef and restaurateur has a celebrated pedigree and is an amazing chef. (I’m a little biased since I had the opportunity to cook with her a few years back). With the ability to cook a wide variety of cuisines and food, from Chinese to goat, I think that Chef Izard would be an impressive addition to the Iron Chef family. Plus, with only three women in the competition, it would be great to have a woman win the title.

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Who will ultimately reign supreme? We all will have to wait to watch the new season of Iron Chef Gauntlet on Food Network. The show airs on the Food Network Sunday nights at 9 pm ET. Check back weekly for our reviews and thoughts on each episode.