Monday, January 17, 2005

Iron Chef America Review

Bobby Flay vs Rick Bayless
Ingredient: (spoilers)(end spoilers)

I like the graphic designs, nicely done. The opening was quick compared to the original show. The challenger was described very quickly. The theme was announced and the chefs were right there to grab the food and start right away. No extended reaction shots, no super-dramatics. They made up for it by putting cuts of the pre-battle interviews as inserts during the battle. The layout of kitchen stadium was nice, but I would've liked a couple more overhead shots.

One of my complaints about the first Iron Chef America was that Alton Brown didn't have anyone to play off of, and although he's a very good commentator, it's a bit tiring to just hear HIS voice the entire time. In this version, they give the floor reporter a little more voice time, as well as the chefs themselves, and they added the judges into the picture during the battle itself and gave them a little time to comment. This helped keep us from Alton overdose.

I really liked the challenger in this one, Rick Bayless. He was calm, amusing, and corrected the pronunciation of the floor reporter. Heh. I'm not a big fan of Bobby Flay, but he did a good job pulling everything together and staying nicely mellow. I'm still not sure I like the focus on the assistant chefs, but it is nice to actually know they have names.

At times, though, it seems like the focus is more on the personalities involved than the food. I wished we could see a little more of the food preparation... follow a dish a little longer. It seemed like the camera would always cut away too soon. The Japanese Iron Chef would sometimes focus on a single thing almost too long, I'm finding that I miss that.

The tasting segment was just about the right length, and it was nice to hear the real voices of the judges for once and not translators. They didn't show too much (which happened with Iron Chef USA) but the audience got a good sense of what the judges liked and didn't like.

The final score was nice to see, as we not only got to see the combined scores, we got to see in what category the difference was. We did not get to see how each judge voted, which is fine by me. A single point difference, and it was in the presentation. Very interesting.

I can say I'm looking forward to the next few battles. This looks like a decent show. 3 1/2 starfish