Iron Chef Australia premiered Tuesday on Channel Seven to apparently lackluster ratings, but we're suckers for the international reinterpretations of television shows.
The path of this particular one (from the original Japanese > the American Food Network version > Australia) could lead to disaster — see the absolute travesty that is Iron Chef UK — but the Australian edition is surprisingly pretty good!
And whoah they even managed to get the American version's Chairman Marc Dacascos on board for the show! This guy is a kung fu man of mystery!
Minor differences you might notice between the American and Australian versions:
· The competitors appear to not have a clue what the "secret" ingredient is — as you see the teams discussing what dishes they're going to prepare.
· The panel of judges (restaurant critic Larissa Dubecki, food writer Simon Thomsen and former restaurant critic Leo Schofield) appears to be permanent and not random.
· The competitors alternate turns when presenting dishes.
· The off-camera interviewed asides that are common practice in reality television, but not on Iron Chef America.
· Perhaps this is indicative of modern Australian cuisine, but the food is way more Asian-influenced and the chefs make use of many more "molecular" techniques (foams, etc) than the American version.
So episode one was battle coconut between visitor 23-year-old Matt Stone of the Greenhouse restaurant in Perth (who was recently named Gourmet Traveller's young chef of 2011) vs Iron Chef Neil Perry, whose restaurant Rockpool reached #4 in the S. Pellegrino 50 Best Restaurants list way back in 2002. Perry beat the young kid, but barely. Said Perry, "Don't come back in ten years' time."
Video: Iron Chef Australia: Intro
Video: Iron Chef Australia: Iron Chef Neil Perry
Video: Iron Chef Australia: The Chairman!
Video: Iron Chef Australia: Judging
Video: Iron Chef Australia: Final Score