Yesterday Iron Chef UK premiered on Channel 4 in England, airing during what's been called as the "Irony Slot" on weekday afternoons, an "experimental little cubbyhole designed to see what sort of nonsense viewers will put up with if it's covered in a knowing veneer." Hosted by TV presenter and newspaper columnist Olly Smith and celebrity chef Nick Nairn, the Iron Chefs in this edition are Tom Aikens, Sanjay Dwivedi, Judy Joo, and Martin Blunos. A new Chairman is there and, as expected, he wears shiny purple suits and does backflips.
But they couldn't leave well enough alone, heavily tweaking the format of its brethren Iron Chef America, making it infinitely more complicated, and adding a lot more camp, to the point that it's almost become a parody of itself. The "secret" ingredient remains, but in the UK edition, gone is the classic format from the original Japanese Iron Chef dating back to 1999 in which an Iron Chef and two sous chefs compete against a visiting chef in a single, multi-course battle.
Instead! An Iron Chef competes against teams of four chefs of a less-caliber than found in the American edition. And then each day for four days (yes, Iron Chef UK airs five days a week), the Iron Chef cooks four dishes (two apps, two entrees), while the challengers cook only one each. The winner in each episode is determined by counting votes in total, and at the end of the week (Fridays), the highest-scoring challenger takes on the Iron Chef. It's complicated! And makes our heads spin.
Video: Iron Chef UK