The original Iron Chef Japan is back on the air in the US

Fans of the original Japanese Iron Chef (ryouri no tetsujin 料理の鉄人) in the U.S. have cause for celebration, because the series is back on the air starting tonight at 11pm Eastern on the Fine Living channel. I think it's been off the air on the Food Network for a while now. In my opinion, while the American version is fine, there's nothing to match the sheer craziness and fun of the original.

Ryouri no tetsujin, which actually means The Iron People (Men) of Cooking, first aired on Fuji TV in Japan from 1993 to 1999. Fuji TV aired a couple of hours of Japanese television aimed at the expat community in Japan in the U.S., where Iron Chef became a bit hit. (I watched it on WNYC in New York in the early '90s. I still remember that the first episode I ever saw - Battle Salmon!) Somehow, it caught the eye of a Food Network exec and was dubbed...and was discovered by the general English speaking audience.

The Iron Chefs, and the chefs who went against them in the Kitchen Stadium, were doing some pretty extreme cooking. It was theatrical, creative and exciting. I sometimes wonder if any of the Iron Chef craziness influenced any young chefs.

There are a few clips up on YouTube to whet your appetite.

Some of my personal Iron Chef high points and low points:

  • The first time a non-Japanese chef beat an Iron Chef (Ron Siegel)
  • The battle of the French masters vs. the Japanese Iron Chefs, in France, where the vote was split by nationality and the French managed to win because the French judges had voted in some clever way.
  • Battle Potato, when Katsuyo Kobayashi, one of my favorite cookbook authors, beat Iron Chef Chen resoundingly.
  • Another Battle Potato (I think it was New Potato) when Kobayashi's son Kentaro, who's also a cookbook author and TV cooking personality (and now more popular than his mom) was the challenger, and his mother couldn't stop trying to coach him from the audience.
  • The way the commenters talked about the rare woman challenger - so sexist it was almost quaint.
  • Seeing Chef Chen, who was my second favorite Iron Chef, use a little spoonful of fois gras in something, but somehow make the whole thing disappear. (My favorite Iron Chef was the Japanese Iron Chef that Morimoto replaced, Rokusaburo Michiba. Both were also regular's on NHK's Today's Cooking, a much more sedate food show.)
  • Bobby Flay dancing on a cutting board with his shoes on was a low light. Despite him saying later that he was made to do it, I've never been a fan of his since.
  • Chairman Kaga, one of the sexiest men on air at the time. (He's an actor just in case, not a real eccentric rich gourmet. The 'nephew' on the American version is a pale, pale shadow.)

Be sure to check out the great fan site Iron Chef Fans for a lot more. Even though the site hasn't been updated for a while, there's still a lot there worth reading. (Besides, the last original episode aired in 2002 so there isn't much to update.)

Allez cuisine!

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Yay, I am so excited the original is back on the air! The US version is just not the same. Although I don't get the Fine Living channel...

I can completely relate to a few of your personal points... I had such a crush on the Chairman (Kaga Takeshi)! Especially after I found videos of him performing/singing in Les Misérables. His voice is just yummy. :)

And your comment about Bobby Flay... I can't stand him either. From that same episode. When he lost, blamed his kitchen, the electrocution, stood on his cutting board... he just seemed like such an arrogant sore loser. But maybe I was biased towards Morimoto! His behavior just repulsed me, regardless.

Ah, you just made my day with the links. :)

I have to say that I feel the same way as Mokona- I'm happy it's back on air here, but sorry I won't be able to see it, as I don't have that channel on my cable lineup.

Michiba was my favorite chef, too-- I always loved how he often took the time to write his menus in calligraphy, often setting them to poetry. He was a consummate artist.

So much awesome I can't contain myself.

I love Kaga! And I loved Michiba also. Never liked Sakai, though. I don't care if Flay stood on his cutting board. It's just a cutting board.

Bobby Flay was such a sore loser that first time that they gave him the win the second time. He is such a pig and I have never EVER been a fan of his. That being said, I to am glad that the REAL Iron Chef is back on the air. It is a great show amd everything else still lives in it's shadow!

I agree with you he is so sloppy in the kitchen for a
world class chef.

Iron Chef used to come on every night here at 11:00, which is when my husband and I go to bed. Every night we would watch it, and it got to the point when as soon as I heard the opening music (which is the theme from the movie "Back Draft" btw), I would start to get sleepy, and it finally got to the point where I could never stay awake long enough to see who won the battles. By that time, though, they were showing reruns of reruns and it didn't matter that much. But it was like comfort food to me and I was devastated when it went off the air. But, we don't get Fine Living, either.

The first episode of Iron Chef I ever saw was the one with Ron Siegel! I used to watch it every night before I went to bed. I love how crazy and over-dramatic that show tended to be. It's too bad I don't get the Fine Living channel either, 'cause I miss the real Iron Chef.

I'm glad to see that Iron Chef is back on the air. I wish they could have kept the original music, but at least it's on again. Any fans of the show who don't want to wait 23 hours between episodes or who want to watch episodes that Fine Living is not airing are certainly welcome to come by our site. We are an Iron Chef fansite with a searchable database of episodes for download or watching online. We currently have over 110 full episodes as well as many other Iron Chef related videos. (We'll eventually have 95% of the episodes that aired on Food Network.) We even have a few Japanese language episodes that did not air on Food Network. Come check it out and let us know what you think.

Was Katsuyo Kobayashi the one who made like 4 dishes and then said "Well... I'm going to do another 4 dishes now"? Because that was EPIC.

yep, she certainly did that. She reminded me so much of my mother in a sense (short, a bit rounded, and moving around like a busy bee!) She's a great cook though and I'm a big fan of her books (she has one out that's been translated to English). They introduced her sort of as 'the housewife who got a TV program' in their typically dismissive attitude against all the female challengers, so it felt like nice payback too.

Wow, this is awesome news! I adore the original Iron Chef. It's way better than the American knockoff. You just can't beat Chairman Kaga.

I agree with you on the Bobby Flay thing. Since he did that on Iron Chef (isn't that showing total disrespect for the chefs?) I haven't liked him. Of course, I also didn't like that ALL of his food is southwest all the time. Snooze!

I almost wish they had an option to watch the show with the Japanese audio and subtitles. I love hearing the actual voices. Sub over dub any day! Course I'm crazy and watch Japanese dramas all the time. ^_^

I get jealous of the judges sometimes when they get to eat the tasty and pretty food. :D

I agree that the american version is nothing compared to the original (and best). Too bad its on Fine Living network, not that many of us in the US get that channel.

I used to dislike Bobby Flay, but after the Iron Chef "Incident" I despise him! how disrespectful for other chefs, your opponent, and especially the Chairman, who is your host. When you are a guest at someone's house, do you jump up and do a dance on their kitchen counter? Grrr... it gets me angry all over again.

Must be proof that Santa Claus actually listens. This is fantastic news. Thank you so much for letting us know!!!

I love (the original) Iron Chef! It's pure awesomeness =P Now all I gotta do is get cable....
And I totally agree with you, Mosli. I really dislike Bobby Flay, especially after that.

I'm currently watching an episode on Fine Living Network. Is this the first one they're showing (Kobe vs. Frittoli)?

Everyone's got different voices from the ones I remember from Food Network. Ohta and Fukui-san are close, but Dr. Hattori is way off.

Chairman Kaga is dubbed, just like everyone else, not subtitled! So sad. At least they left "Allez cuisine" in his original voice.

No cable, so no more Iron Chef (American or Japanese version). I agree with the posters about Bobby Flay. Used to not really care for him at all, as he always seemed to appear quite snobbish and condescending on his shows. But seeing him on Iron Chef challenge, it was disgraceful attitude. Although maybe he thought he was cool for doing it. And then the rematch in which he won. Not being able to taste the dishes, I thought Marimoto's dishes looked better. And I felt it was a bit of a pity win for Flay.

The nephew chairman.....I like the guy as an actor but I am not sure he is well fitted in his role as chairman for the American version of the show.

For those who get the show on Fine Living Network....enjoy!!!!

Good News
I'd like to add to "sheer craziness" and "fun" that it was classier, the ingredients more diverse/valuable, a knowledgeable set of commentators and judges-it's gotten slightly better on the U.S. version but leaves much to be desired, and the way the new Chairman just kind of stands around, it's just so fake - Maki and posters, it's a consensus, I cannot agree more, we were disgusted when he got on the cutting board; and people wonder where foreigners get their impressions of Americans...I'm slowly starting to like him again...but that kind of display is appauling to anyone coming from an Asian/Japanese background.

Maki - do you remember the Milk episode? They had bottles of milk and they had a duck on them. One of my earlist memories was of that milk with the duck on the bottle[perhaps the best i've ever had] and the purple cap, do you happen to know a name?

Well, it's a joy to see the original back on, though the new music is atrocious and of course there are more commercials/less show.
Speaking of the music, does anyone know how the music from Backdraft was chosen and did Hans Zimmer have to aprove? He must have said no to Fine Living.
I.C. America is a poor substitute for the beloved original and Flay is still a jerk. We only watch it to see Morimoto-san and Alton Brown is pretty cool too.

Speaking of I.C. America, did anyone see one of the first battles when Iron Chef Sakai was there? If so, can you believe that a jerk they have for a judge (Jeffrey Steingarten) was allowed to insult him?! We were flabbergasted. He should have been slapped down and removed then and there. Of course, Sakai took it graciously (the insult was about Sakai using Bay leaves which Steingarden said he couldn't believe Sakai used as they are "poisonous.") What a idiot. Sakai explained that he wanted to use gold flakes as a GARNISH but there wasn't any so he substituted bay leaves. This guy on every show insults the chefs and judges. He's obviously kept on for ratings which probably fall because of him, not rise.
Anyway...thank the gods, the original is back on with judges who respect the chefs!

I don't recall that particular episode...I am a big fan of Jeffrey Steingarten so I find it surprising if he did insult Chef Sakai. I've never heard of bay leaves being poisonous either. Not that they'd be good substitutes for gold leaf either.

Just saw last night that this episode will be re-aired very soon on Food Network - Morimoto and Sakai cook as a team - hope you can catch it!

It was great to see Iron Chef Japan back on the air, but i wish they would show more then the final season of the series.