Prior to the debut of Iron Chef Gauntlet, host and new Chairman Alton Brown promised that this would be “all about the food.” And although the premiere, which aired last night, does indeed have a lot of gorgeous food and frenetic kitchen action, what you really notice — especially after three years without any new Iron Chef on TV — is how gloriously silly this show is at its core. There are no backflips or operatic dish announcements this time around, but everything about this series is just a few degrees more gonzo than most cooking competition shows. Here are 10 of our favorite details from this new iteration of Iron Chef:
1) The Iron Chef competitors are throwing down the gauntlet in what appears to be an abandoned laser tag arena.
2) But it’s great to see the dry-ice coffin back in action. Here it is full of live lobsters. Notice those cold fumes trickling down the side? Dry-ice flow is very important in the world of Iron Chef Gauntlet.
3) Alton’s command center gets an upgrade. Now he’s got a bunch of little TVs with green sticks showing him the action 10 feet away.
4) As both host and Chairman, Alton is more powerful than ever. Jonathan Sawyer tries to make good with the new Chairman by pouring him a glass of the wine that he uses in his stock, but it didn’t sway Alton much. Hopefully, more competitors will attempt to butter-up the Chairman this season with free booze.
5) Gutsy moves are rewarded on Iron Chef Gauntlet. Case in point: Stephanie Izard wins the first challenge by serving an elaborate poultry tartare. Jason Dady also uses his precious 30 minutes to cook elk loin sous-vide — and it works, somehow.
6) Simplicity gets you nowhere on Iron Chef Gauntlet, but you don’t want to make things too complicated, either. Case in-point: Nyesha Arrington’s decision to serve lobster boudin in Swiss chard casing. It’s one of the reasons she gets the boot.
7) Judge Donatella Arpaia Stewart’s dress and lipstick match the fuchsia knife in the Iron Chef Gauntlet logo.
8) And Geoffrey Zakarian’s pocket square complements the scrim.
9) The tall, long glass table with the heavy iron base is the only appropriate perch for these judges.
10) And finally, if the rest of these chefs want to stick in the game and reach the gauntlet, they better learn to make tall flames like Mr. Dady does in the intro.