There is an interesting, and quite critical article posted on the Village Voice website yesterday about Iron Chef tapings. The author, Robert Sietsema, goes into the taping with some delusions that Iron Chef was a real competition and that dishes are made on the fly, not planned out in advance. He states in the article:
“Like a lightbulb coming on over our heads, we realized that the chefs had known the identity of the main ingredient all along, just as they had known ahead of time which Iron Chef would be paired with the challenger. How else to explain the utter nonchalance displayed by the sous chefs, who fetched ingredients and blended them; toasted, fried, and roasted them; then plated them like they were enjoying a relaxing holiday in the country.”
Um…I have never been at an Iron Chef taping but I knew that they are actually given a list of two potential secret ingredients so they can plan a menu. I read it somewhere. Even without that knowledge anyone who has watched the show and paid attention could have figured this out. The fact that the chefs don’t speak to each other pretty much gives it away. There is no way they could know what the head chef wants them to make without discussing it and as you see on TV they don’t discuss anything. It is also pretty obvious that the Iron Chef against which they will do battle is also already known at the time of taping.
How dumb does Sietsema think the average viewer is? Does he think we are as stupid as the 2% of the population that thinks professional wrestling is real? My other issue with him is that he obviously went into the taping knowing that a lot of what you see on TV is bullshit and planned on that being his “angle.” It is annoying that he wrote the article as if he were some starry-eyed foodie that really thought it was a battle like you see on TV. Honestly, the only interesting thing he revealed was that they used body doubles for the Iron Chefs that were not there, in the authors case Mario Batali and Bobby Flay. I think that is hilarious.
The biggest problem I have with the article is that the Amateur Gourmet (Adam Roberts) already wrote a very similar article about his experience at at taping of Iron Chef. His observations were almost the same. What also seems to be lost on Sietsema is that Iron Chef is purely for entertainment and is not really intended for a studio audience. Its target is people watching at home and it is quite successful at providing an entertaining hour of cooking. If you want to see Chefs competing, watch Bravo’s Top Chef.