Friday, August 7, 2009

Today's Secret Ingredient is.....

About a decade ago I stumbled upon a cooking competition on The Food Network called Iron Chef which was an imported show from Japan. I was fascinated by the frenzied pace of the cooking and by the hilariously bad voice-overs during the judging process. Iron Chef became the gateway drug for the Food Network and 10 years later I am watching way more Food Network shows than I should.

In 2005, Iron Chef America debuted on the network. Gone were the cooky Japanese judges and the whimsical voice-overs. At first I wasn't into the show because of the Americanization of the program. After watching a few episodes I completely changed my opinion of the show. What was lost in the judging department was more than made up for in the hosting department. The Chairman (the show emcee) of Iron Chef America is far and away the star of the show. Forget about the bevy of Iron Chefs including such luminaries as Bobby Flay and Mario Batali. The Chairman (portrayed by Hawaiian actor Mark Dacascos) is quality television at its best.

Before each episode of Iron Chef America, the Chairman presents the "secret ingredient" of the competition. This ingredient must be used in all dishes that are prepared and plated for the judges after the hour-long timed cooking portion of the show. Dacascos waits until the screen is lifted from the container of ingredients and after the camera pans across the spread of Lobster, Corn, Rice, what-have-you, he gives the camera a goofy-serious glare and screams the name of the ingredient. His delivery is classic and reminiscent of a sensei at a karate dojo. He keeps a straight face throughout (with the occasional quirky grin) and you really feel that the battle at Kitchen Stadium is for life or death.

Even though the Chairman claims to be the nephew of the original host of Iron Chef Japan, Dascacos is of Japanese ancestry at all. I'd love to have him over to my house for a week and announce the key ingredient in our dinner at home every night.

Enjoy some quality clips from YouTube that illustrate just how brilliant and comical the Chairman is on the show. I'm thinking of setting my DVR to record the first 10 minutes of every show just for the comedy factor. The next new episode airs on Sunday night. Much like Simon Cowell on Idol, I wouldn't watch Iron Chef America if Mark Dacascos leaves the show.

Did someone say Montage?


Doe said...

Alton Brown is technically the emcee, isn't he?

T. said...

Best show ever!!!