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Iron Chef

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Iron Chef is a television programme produced in Japan. In the last few years, it has been translated with English subtitles. Now the Food Network has taken the Americanisation of Iron Chef one step further: renamed International Iron Chef, most of the subtitles have been replaced with oddly out of place American English voice-overs.

The basic premise behind this show is that a rich king or nobleman of some sort realised his dream of the ultimate competition. Instead of resorting to something like an athletic competition, this man, named Chairman Kaga, decided to build the 'Kitchen Stadium'. The Kitchen Stadium is an arena-styled death match between the top chefs of the world. There are currently four Iron Chefs.

For each episode, a chef known as the Challenger arrives at Kitchen Stadium to prove his culinary superiority. He or she gets to choose which of the Iron Chefs they will compete against.

With an over-theatrical flair unmatched even by David Copperfield, Chairman Kaga reveals each episode's 'Theme Ingredient'. This ingredient is previously unknown to both the chosen Iron chef and the Challenger.

Now both chefs have one hour to create an array of dishes that focus on the theme ingredient as creatively as possible. To help the food-challenged, several sportscaster-types keep the viewer up to date on what techniques both chefs are using. A great deal of humour is lost in the translation, which itself is pretty darn funny.

As you watch and listen to Iron Chef, you may come to the realisation that you have heard the music before. Well, you are probably right. The opening theme, 'Show Me Your Firetruck', as well as much of the other music, is from the Backdraft soundtrack.

As the hour comes to a close, tension mounts for both the Iron Chef and his Challenger. As the final seconds count down, finishing touches are added to the dishes. An ominous gong sounds to announce the end of the cooking time.

Now, it is time for taste-testing. Four judges, who usually include at least one annoying actress and one fortune teller, taste all of the dishes and make helpful comments like 'I really like the flavour of this giant-squid ice cream' (fortune teller) or 'This champagne tickles my nose, tee-hee' (actress). In the end, the four judges rate each chef on a scale of 1 to 20. At this point, it is important to note that the judges, who are compensated by the Iron Chef producers, are more likely to be invited again if they vote for the Iron Chef.

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