Yes, of course it’s ridiculous. If Top Chef is the class, act main stage, Iron Chef: Quest for an Iron Legend has always been the goofy sideshow, with horrible overacting that borders (borders?) or ethnic stereotype and frenetic pace that concentrates — hell, dotes on — movement rather than detail, speed over substance.
But damn it, it’s fun. Alton Brown, one of the great smug smart-asses of our time — a knowledgeable and all-too-often accurately cynical curmudgeon — is the perfect host for this nonsense, and now they’ve added Kristen Kish, a Top Chef winner and a fine chef herself, who has shed any pretense of reserve (or maybe self-preservation) to join Alton in the mad-lib world of IC. (And if you missed Alton’s YouTubery during the pandemic, it continues, though more sporadically, even now, with his charming and challenging wife and all the ill temper and deep knowledge you’d expect. Oh, and his books? Crazy good.)
But it’s been too long. The extravagant Iron Chef Stadium is bigger than ever, and the caliber of chefs who are willing to participate in this circus seems completely into it. And come on, any competition that gives us Danny Trejo as a judge (“My only question is… can I get four of these to go?”) has my vote.
If Iron Chef could be considered a guilty pleasure, I’m guilty as sin. I mean, it’s no Battle Bots, but you take what you can get.